Report of the Visioning Task Group
Congregational Meeting, February 11, 2024
At the Congregational Meeting in January, 2023, in light of long-standing budget issues, First Church members committed to a process to determine a vision for the future of the Church. This task was undertaken by the Visioning Task Group, chaired by Anne Conway. Members of the group were Moderator Anne Sprague, Ruth Ann Clark, Bob Longsworth, John Gates and Jim Heron, with valuable input from David Hill and Jen Bertoni. Small group sessions were held in the summer and fall, and the group compiled a report, which was presented at an Adult Education session in October.
The first result of this work is a new vision statement, designed to be short, memorable, and meaningful. The statement, as crafted by the Task Group and amended by Executive Council, reads as follows:
As followers of Jesus, we aspire to minister to one another, our community and the world.
The choice of wording is important. We are followers of Jesus, not followers of creeds and rules, not bound by traditional forms and practices, but led by love. We aspire. We know we’re not always right, but we are, as John Wesley said, moving on to perfection. We aspire to minister, to act, to practice what we preach. We aspire to care for one another in times of joy and sorrow, to serve our community, and to care for God’s creation.
Some of you may be thinking, “you did all this work, and the result is one sentence?” But it’s a sentence that can be used to measure any project or program we may consider. It helps us answer the question “why?”. It tells people who we are and what we seek to do. It has already led to discussion in the Executive council about how we might put it into practice, such as using our terrace and front yard as community gathering places. It will help us discern how to use our resources wisely to ensure the Church’s future.
It's also important what it does not say. It doesn’t say we aspire to balance the budget, increase our investments, grow our membership, or increase our giving. These things are the “what” and “how”, and that work is yet to be done.
Our First Church community is strong, resilient, and beloved. It’s also full of ideas. The Task Group members trust that together we can chart a course for the next century of ministry.