A Note From the Pastor
Rev. Barbara Fay
In October 2017, through Gary Step, Associate Director of Congregational Vibrancy of the West Michigan Conference, I heard of an opportunity for a congregation to look more deeply at itself and evaluate the current state of its affairs, so to speak. In other words, take stock and get a new perspective on perhaps a new direction. This led to the congregation's participation in the Futurecasting program. The information gathered through this program was illustrated beautifully on the tree that Linda Moore reproduced. It hung in Robinson Hall for some time, so each of us could review the survey results. This self-examination further led us to acknowledging we were not connecting well with each other for spiritual growth, nor were we accomplishing our stated mission— "Connecting people with the love and life of Jesus Christ!" This was valuable information for us and propelled us to action.
The best way to connect people with Jesus is through worship so, in March 2018, I announced to the Church Council we were going to begin to explore how God might be calling us to reach out to people in the community through a program called Multiply: "New Service for New People." A team of eight volunteers, who were excited to reach new people and willing to give of their time weekly to learn and explore together, was formed. The team was assigned a coach throughout the exploration process, Rev. Cathy Townley, from the Minnesota Conference. She helped the team members, on a monthly basis, to traverse the road to expansion of their thinking and an opening of their hearts, discovering to what God has called this congregation. The group began to read a book together called Building Worship Bridges about building a bridge between the community and the church.
After six months of meetings and expanding to 14 people, the team discerned God's direction for the congregation. Through prayer and discernment, we felt very strongly that God was calling us to reach out to those in the community who are struggling with grief, addiction, those who are far from God and feeling hopeless, what ever their status is.
We all know there is a huge alcohol and other drug additions in our county. We've seen how it devastates lives not only in our community but in our own families. We felt a strong pull to a 12-step, Christcentered recovery program called Celebrate Recovery. There is a brief description on Celebrate Recovery in this issue. We hope to kick off our first Celebrate Recovery night in February or March 2019.
Hoping to connect more people to Jesus through worship also led to the creation of a new Worship Design Team. The team will work to make the current 10:30 a.m., Sunday morning, worship service more creative and vibrant. Our hope is that it will speak to us and to new people too.
The Church Council and Finance Committee have also given their blessing to hire a Children's Ministry Coordinator for the church. This person will help with the children's Sunday school, plan four big events for children each year, etc.
Special thanks go to the Multiply Team members: Rick Milligan, Emily Byron, Laura Conrad, Pam Smith, Karen Walkley, Cathy Wilkinson, Amy Jones, Nancy Conrad, Marilyn Smith, Shelly Bos, Nancy Boehm, Susan Johnson, Judy VanMeter.
Please keep the church and the new plans in your prayers as we move forward to "connect people with the love and life of Jesus Christ!"
Rev. Barbara Fay