The Future Directions process began with churchwide conversations and a questionnaire a year ago, in the fall of 2017. The Future Directions Study Group (Danette Harris, John Hawkins and Pastor Tom Kinder) then took the twenty-six pages of comments and organized them into twenty-two summary statements of appreciation or dreams for our church. This spring the congregation responded to those statements online or with color dots on the Parish Hall wall. You can see the Statements and dots by clicking here.
Now the group has studied those responses and drafted a Future Directions vision in two forms, a relatively short Unison Reading and a longer, more comprehensive working version. You can read them below.
The Study Group urges you to study these drafts and speak with them or send your responses or suggestions to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The congregation will be given the opportunity to vote to affirm the statements once they are in final draft form.
Thank you for all that you have done to make these possible, and for all you will do to help us get them just right. The questions are:
Do these reflect the church that our Future Directions process has been defining (you can refer back to the statements here)? Do you have suggestions to improve their wording?
Here is the longer statement first, followed by the shorter version that we will be trying out as a Unison Reading in worship in the weeks ahead.
Future Directions Study Group
DRAFT Vision 2018
The United Church of Strafford aspires to be a welcoming congregation of open doors, hearts and minds, accepting differences and imperfections, embracing other cultures and traditions, and maintaining freedom to choose beliefs as individuals while living up to the name United Church. We want to be a place of faithful Christ-like love to which anyone who needs spiritual, personal or material support can turn, a beloved community connecting deeply and sharing honestly our joys and concerns, honoring and celebrating the experience of our elders and helping to raise the children of the town, a warm nest for us to land in when we are new that becomes in time our spiritual home and extended family.
We want to be a congregation that has vital involvement in everyday life in the community and that reaches out to help those in need. We intend to be a force, not just a presence, responding to wrongs, threats and destructive forces in the world and effecting positive social change, connecting religion to issues of peace, justice and the care of God’s creation.
We want this congregation to be a sanctuary in the midst of a complex world where we come to be renewed to go out and serve again. We need it to be a place of inspiration and wisdom, with worship services that allow us to connect to our better selves and reflect on a deeper meaning in life, enriched by beautiful words and music, by traditional scriptures, rituals and seasons, by other religious perspectives and by contemporary voices that help us find new ways of speaking about God and the spiritual realm. We want to offer training in contemplative practice and cultivate a way of seeing the world and our lives as sacred. We want to be a center for questioning and discussing, learning and growing, where we can consider seemingly insurmountable world problems and find a ladder of faith, hope and love to climb out into thought and action, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
We want to create a safe forum where we can consider big questions and controversial issues, sharing with healthy communication, where we can disagree and still get along, listening humbly, openly and with fairness and compassion to others with differing views.
We rely on the dedication and generous gifts of our congregational leaders and volunteers. We value traditions and also embrace evolution when change is necessary. We understand that to serve younger generations we need to find new ways of being a church that work for them. We want to help parents see that their children can benefit from what church uniquely offers and to have children involved in every aspect of church life.
We appreciate the old feeling and simplicity of the spirit-filled place in which we worship. It was built with love and we want to continue to love and care for it. We also appreciate the beauty of what takes place within it—the music in worship and concerts that is so important to us and all our acts of creativity, compassion and care.
DRAFT Future Directions Vision As a Unison Reading
The United Church of Strafford aspires
to be a beloved community of open hearts and minds
embracing differences and diverse traditions,
extending faithful Christ-like love and support to all,
reaching out especially to those in need.
We intend to be a force, not just a presence,
effecting positive social change
for peace, justice and the care of God’s creation.
We come to this sanctuary to be renewed to serve,
finding inspiration and wisdom
in traditional words and music
and in new insights and expressions.
We want to offer training in contemplative practice
and to experience the world and our lives as sacred.
We want to learn and grow.
We hope to address big questions and issues
with healthy communication, speaking and listening
humbly, openly and with fairness to differing views.
We want children to be involved in every aspect of church life.
We seek ways to serve the changing needs of each generation.
We love the beauty of this building
and what takes place within it
as we celebrate and follow the way of Christ
with Spirit-filled acts
of creativity, compassion and care.