Volume 4, Issue 4
Cabinet Planning Process
Our Cabinet is involved in an exciting planning and review process. We began with a
day-long retreat at the Huston Conference Center on May . We gathered to begin a
process of assessing who we have been as church, who we are now, and what God
might be calling us to be in the future.
We began by discussing what it means to be a leader and how leadership is organized at our church. We looked at our bylaws to see how we've named the responsibilities of different groups in the church, i.e. the Trustees, Cabinets, Committees and fellowship groups. We talked of how we work together with different styles and processes and examined what creates a healthy environment for working together as church.
We began to look at the history that is our journey as this church. We discussed how we are a product of our history although not solely defined by it. There was agreement about the importance of reviewing our history for its wisdom about what worked well and what didn't so we can build on our successes and not repeat actions that have been destructive to our community.
Our second meeting on May 23rd built on the work we had done at the retreat. We spent time discussing the makeup of the Cabinet and how to insure that diverse voices are represented so it does not become a group isolated from the rest of the congregation. Other issues raised were: How might we strengthen the Cabinet? How does the Cabinet work with committees/boards? How do we communicate to the congregation what we are doing?
We reviewed the past of our church and listed several areas we felt were important upon which to reflect. The larger list was prioritized to the 5 top issues we felt need attention:
At our next meeting on June 18th we decided to prepare a survey to distribute (mid-late summer) to members and friends of the congregation asking for their reflections on specific areas of our history. This information will guide us in deciding whether creating "house meetings" around certain topics would be helpful. We recognize that some people are complete with the past while others still have strong feelings about certain things. In order to move into the future unencumbered by our past and yet aware of its wisdom, we see the need to provide the opportunity for such expression.
We also spent time looking at our congregation in the present, acknowledging what are our resources, what yearnings we hear from the congregation, where are our comfort zones and which things are risk-taking edges for us.
We are planning to share more of this information in the fall but invite any of you
to talk to a Cabinet member or Pastor Diane to hear more about this energizing work.
Message from the Pastor
"The only thing that doesn't change is that there is always change."
My son and I were in the car a few weeks ago on the way to school and he was lamenting how things had changed in his class schedule: "Why can't they just leave it the same?" My son, even at age 12, is a traditionalist. He wants to drive the same way to school everyday; he likes the same snack when we read together each night; he doesn't like it when I come home with a different haircut. Change makes him uneasy and uncomfortable.
Last week the Cabinet met for another planning and review session in our continued process to assess where we've been as a church and where we're going. We created a list of our "comfort zones" at the church. The list included us being open to growing, recognizing we are always on a journey. The last item on the list was "staying the same." Being human is complex! We have a multitude of feelings within us.
Our next reflection was "What are the areas that are risky for us, outside our comfort zones?" There were different things on the list but the commonality they all shared was an aspect of change. Whether considering remodeling the fellowship hall, struggling with new hymns in the New Century Hymnal, reassessing our organizational structure, or initiating an official Open & Affirming process, it became clear how much change is a natural part of church life.
This church is nearly 100 years old. The list of changes experienced over its history would fill many pages. All through those years members worried how changes in the church would affect the congregation and how the church they loved would survive. In addition, all through those years God was present in the congregation loving and leading them into the future.
We are in the season of Pentecost. God calls us to let the wind of the Spirit blow where it may and to trust that what comes before us has God in the midst of it. We are continually invited to join in a dance of change where the steps may be unfamiliar and the music a bit unexpected. God is always our partner, in every melody and in every discordant note.
Let us move into the future with a resounding "yes" to God's invitation to dance.
For Your Information . . .
Right now I'm contemplating two extremes -- change and chaos contrasted with stability and serenity. So often the chaos seems unending, while I long for serenity. Many times during a service, Pastor Diane speaks so directly to me and what I'm going through, that I almost wonder if she has a peephole into my life! One of the many things I treasure about Pastor Diane is her accuracy in making my faith journey so totally relevant to my life. What a gift it is to receive a blessing at every service!
Our planning group has had two more meetings, continuing the work and energy which began during our retreat at Camp Huston. The task of contemplating who we are and where we are going is exciting, and certainly involves lots of discussion. If you have any questions, suggestions or concerns, please talk with Pastor Diane, a cabinet member or me. The beauty and strength of our congregational heritage is our participatory tradition.
Peace and Joy,
United Church News is now free!
United Church News is the monthly publication of the United Church of Christ with news of
congregations across the country as well as information about the national leadership of UCC. If
you would like to receive it at your home, let Pastor Diane know.
UCC General Synod
July 12-17, the 23rd UCC General Synod will meet in Kansas City, Missouri, with our partners, the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), around the theme, "Gather At the Welcome Table." This
year there will be live coverage of the Synod via "SynodAssembly.net." beginning the afternoon
of July 13th. The site will provide live daily gavel-to-gavel coverage of all business sessions,
debates, addresses, music, and worship, through videostreaming. Users will need RealPlayer
installed on their computers to watch online video coverage. A free copy of RealPlayer can be
downloaded from . Every evening at 7pm, a daily online newspaper will be uploaded to the site
with the latest coverage of Synod and Assembly events, elections of officers and votes on
resolutions – plus interviews and feature stories.
In Our Prayers
In Our Prayers
"For God So Loved The World: Evangelicals and Other Faithful Preach the Green Gospel" in the July/August 2001 issue of Utne Reader. It's on the web at www.utne.com. Another article of interest is in the Soapbox column, "Pharm Crisis." I also have a copy of the magazine if you'd like to borrow it (and promise to return it!)
Following services on Sunday, August 19, we will reconvene at Karen Rich's house at 509
South Lewis for an all-church picnic. It will probably be a potluck, but watch for further
Taizè Services . . .We are taking a break from the Taizè services to reassess the support
for this kind of service on a regular basis. We will be exploring the possibilities of making
this a joint ecumenical venture and ways we might communicate to the larger
community about the blessings of this type of worship.
Reflections of Gratitude
I am no longer surprised when I experience how wonderful Diane is. She has a wealth of skills
in communication and interaction and is a very kind and caring person. I have been glad that
most of her sermons are well thought out and thought provoking, but tonight I was reminded to
share how effective a facilitator Diane is also. As I looked at the agenda for our second post
retreat meeting, the printed prayers and readings that I enjoy at the beginning and end of the
meetings, and the minutes from last time, I am grateful that we are so blessed
I was delighted at the Saturday retreat at Camp Houston to find that not only did Diane have a clearly thought out agenda and program that included opening prayer and gathering exercise, but she supplied a small "altar" with flower/candle arrangement to set the tone. Consistently she encouraged without directing and kept us moving with support. As an example, the first task was to brain storm the characteristics of a good leader. She brought out the best from the group with guiding humor without being judgmental in a way that she met all the aspects of a good leader that we brought up. I am grateful that we have been so blessed and look forward to sharing Diane with our community.
Someone recently asked me if I am glad to be here. I said, "YUP!"
First, let me thank everyone who has expressed their appreciation for all the good music our Ensemble has provided. We love the 'positive' feedback. My thanks goes to the Choir Members for being supportive, willing to try new things and doing a "GREAT JOB".
As for our Summer activities; I plan to sneak in solos, duets, an instrument or two and a choir number perhaps every 2 or 3 Sundays. I know people want some time off to go on vacation or to just rest from the busy schedule. And you all deserve it.
I plan to work with our Pastor and the Cabinet in the later Summer months to plan for the Church's Fall activities, so that the music we provide will help in the flow of the services and the focus on specific worship themes and topics. This isn't always an easy task to organize, but can be done.
Since I know we enjoy "ALL" styles of music, I'll be looking for more Gospel and Spiritual tunes we can do.
Looking ahead, I plan on introducing a beautiful Christmas Cantata for our Christmas Eve. Service, which is for Choir, Piano and Flute (it includes Readings). We have discussed and need to further discuss, that since there are many meetings that take place on Sundays after Worship, we may need to move our Choir Rehearsals in the Fall to perhaps a Wednesday or Thursday Evening. I know from experience that this is a tough change to make, but once the adjustment is made, it's so much easier to get things done, with much less interruption.
Finally, "PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR"! The Evergreen Community Choir will be performing an all "Brahms" Concert sometime in September. I am helping them out on some piano parts (and also will sing with with them, too), along with Sue Bell and Karen Rich We hope many will attend this concert. Oh, it's a lot of work, too.
Your Music Director,