Below you will see the two final drafts prepared for the warned Congregational Meeting to be held after worship on October 28th. We will be asking the membership to vote to affirm that this is our vision for the foreseeable future in the United Church of Strafford. These are working documents that can be adjusted over time, and we can foresee new elements we may want to add in the future. For now every committee and board, the Church Council and the Pastor will be working to fulfill this vision.
We received many comments and incorporated all that strengthened the Vision documents while keeping them accurate as translations of the 22 Appreciation and Dream Statements that the congregation reviewed and largely approved. (You can click here to see those Appreciation and Dream statements.)
This has been a careful year-long process. The Future Directions Study Group thanks everyone who has given so generously of their time, thoughts and feelings to bring us to this place.
Please review these two statements before the meeting after worship on October 28th. Thank you!
Future Directions Study Group FINAL DRAFT Vision 2018
The United Church of Strafford aspires to be a welcoming congregation of open doors, hearts and minds, accepting our imperfections, embracing our differences and 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 to the church 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 church 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. We hope to 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—worship and the music in worship and concerts that is so important to us and all our acts of creativity, compassion and love.
FINAL DRAFT Future Directions Vision As a Unison Reading
The United Church of Strafford aspires
to be a 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 merely 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 learn and grow.
We want to provide training in contemplative practice
and to experience our lives and the world as sacred.
We hope to address big questions and controversial issues
openly and humbly, respectful of varied views and feelings.
We want children to be involved in every aspect of church life.
We seek ways to serve the changing needs of each generation.
We appreciate 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 love.