Dear FPCNH Community,
Last month, we kicked off the annual stewardship campaign with a luncheon wherein we gathered around tables and shared our hopes for our community. We focused our conversation around three questions:
How does this church inspire you?
What does this church inspire you to do?
What are your hopes and dreams for this church in 2018?
If you were there, you might remember the sheets at the tables on which answers to the questions were written down. At the November Session meeting, we took about an hour and reviewed the responses, listening for the Spirit among us, and there are some strong themes that the Session and I are picking up.
First, we sense a strong desire for deeper connections, to cultivate a sense of belonging for every person who crosses the threshold of the church.
Written down on the papers, we heard several requests to “resume” ministry groups that once had been active in the church – a young adults group, a campus ministry group, a women’s group, a men’s group, etc. However, the Session and I agreed, rather than look to our past to see what worked for that time and place, we’re looking to you all in the here and now, and listening for what might enable us to feel more connected and spiritually nourished.
Thinking about the levels of engagement, thinking about what might work for introverts and extroverts, for people of all ages and abilities, we’d like to create opportunities for the community to feel accessible and welcome in ways organic to the community. From the first-time visitor to the longest-time member, each person is indeed welcome here – our task is to extend that welcome and create opportunities for folks to engage as they feel called. Therefore, looking ahead to 2018, the Session and I invite you to share with us how you might feel more connected and experiment with us as we seek to cultivate deeper relationships with one another.
Second, we sense a strong desire for a more unified mission identity rooted in God’s call, to shape our activities, and therefore, community.
Though faithfulness is not practiced for the recognition of others, there is a strong desire for our church to be known not for the building where we worship, but for the way we love God and love our neighbor – for the way we participate in mission. We know there are countless projects, organizations, and missions to support near and far. For several years, we have supported many and we have several members who are passionate about several causes. However, our church, as a community, is also being called to focus our lived faith.
2018 will be a year of discernment for us. We will spend some time as a community discerning what we will focus on. We’ll not start with the projects or organizations that we can support. We’ll start by asking questions: What barrier to life abundant would you like to see eliminated for the people of God? Would it bring you the most joy to see a world without hunger? Would it be an honor for you to labor for a world with clean water for all? Would you like to teach children that they can live in a world with no homelessness? Would you like to create a world where every child is educated? Would it bring you the most satisfaction in life to leave a legacy of a world that is greener? Is it most important to you that all people, created equal and in God’s image, no longer suffer under racist oppression?
This will be a time for us to dream big – to shoot for the moon. And, from there, we’ll learn of and engage with the ways we can practically bring about our call to serve God’s people, starting right here in New Haven, CT.
As we get to know each other, as we build up Beloved Community among us, let us listen for God’s call among us and decide together how we, as a community, will live a life of love.