In early February 2017, the Vestry members—both the out going and the new members—gathered with a facilitator, Teresa Lingafelter, to take a look at how to move forward in 2017. This retreat resulted in this strategic plan update.
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The Vestry reflected together about what we have learned this year. These are our five ”learnings.” Often when a group looks back at what they have learned, it has a quality of “Well duh?” Perhaps this is because once it is learned it becomes practice and then routine.
Here are the five areas the Vestry thought they learned something about.
1. Plan-be ready-take risks
Our congregation is in a strange confluence. We have a donation for capital projects from John Pearson’s estate. This represents an enormous opportunity. However, we are running a small deficit in our operational funds. We have had to cut back in our staff and in our outreach.
And, fixing the carpet and the pews has been on some agenda of ours for 25 years. The Vestry asked the task forces to develop a plan to spend a $100,000 from the Pearson funds to fix up the church. They devised a plan to (1) improve the landscaping and (2) the replace the rug and pews.
Although the list of needed repairs is long and this action only takes off a couple of items, it is a start. We anticipate some momentum to do other projects.
Making the church more welcoming and hospitable is part of our efforts to increase membership and be active in the world. It is a risk, but one worth taking.
2. Information leads to opportunity
Data is important to making good decisions. This is generally known and appreciated. However, the Episcopal Church uses different criterion to count participants. And counting who takes communion is an important but not necessarily accurate count of our families and members.
One of the task forces took a look at what we called “active members.” The criteria for active members are (1) they attend routinely and/or (2) are regular givers. This report is included in the annual report. This becomes the baseline for congregational growth.
This will make the rector’s goal of increasing the membership by 20 families easier to measure.
3. Engagement grows commitment
One of the amazing aspects of our life together is the level of involvement of the members of the church in the community of the church.
Almost everyone is involved in one way or another. Often people are engaged in many ways. We have seen that as newcomers take on tasks, like coffee hour or nursery, they seem to increase their commitment to the church.
4. Face-to-face interaction drives our work and improves outcomes
Beside our services, we have increased the opportunities for working side-by-side and face-to-face with each other.
We have had lots of opportunities for the entire congregation to get together:
- Three breakfasts and a dinner in the past 12 months
- Nine St. Benedict work parties
- Monthly Memorial Garden and Vestry meetings
- An annual meeting
Every week the flower committee, the sacristans and the children’s education groups meet and execute tasks to keep the church rolling along.
Our experience over that last year is that these group interactions really do improve outcomes and collegiality.
5. Openly listen, adapt
Communication is always an issue within organizations. How do you get information that is accurate and useful to people in a way that they can hear it and apply it to their lives? Our website, the delivery of the Font to people’s homes through email, and the church bulletin are some of the ways.
Communication has to include doing a lot of things all at once in a redundant and repetitive fashion.
The strategic plan has four components or task forces. The retreat called for each of the task forces to decide what they wanted to accomplish next year with input from the entire group. The task forces are the following:
- Engaging with the Outside
- Rebooting our Organization
- Reviving our Sacred Space
- Discovering New Depths
Each task force developed program plans for the next 90 days.
Engaging with the Outside
Engaging with the Outside is the group that is focused on encouraging new people to come to church and to welcome them when they do. This quarter they are doing the following:
- Working on an Easter banner and postcard
- Doing some planning for revisiting the welcome packet
- Sunday school planning
- Looking at the role of the musical program in outreach
Rebooting our Organization
Reboot our organization is a group that looks at the structure of the church. The objective of this task force is to increase and make more visible the way we operate.
It is clear that we have “self-organizing” groups. This essentially means people do the jobs and tasks they are interested in.
Once the groups are listed and we see how people are participating, there is an opportunity to see if that continues to be the best and most fruitful way to organize.
Reviving our Sacred Space
Reviving our Sacred Space is taking giant steps this quarter to update the church—new flooring and new pews. There are about a million smaller actions involved in this and the schedule for activities will be posted in the parish hall.
The landscaping has been refreshed and plantings planned.
Discovering New Depths
Discovering New Depths is amplifying a couple of current programs, including the women’s retreat and foot washing. Both of these events are taking place in March. The women’s retreat is March 18 and 19. Foot washing is March 9.
Church of the Redeemer
Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. We are a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.
The Episcopal Church welcomes you.
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