To the Parish:
I’d like to take a few moments to talk about the work of the vestry during 2017. From where I sit, you have much to be proud of.
We spent a good part of the year simply listening, to take the pulse of the parish. It started with the Parish Survey and continued through the vestry and rector’s work on the Mutual Ministry Review. We held four “Town Hall” sessions, enjoyed the input from guests attending vestry meetings, and each of us, myself included, held one-on-one conversations with new and long- standing parishioners.
This listening helped us start a conversation, one that we called “Visioning”. As we have dreamed of how we can best be God’s hands and feet in the 21st century, we know that this will require us to re-imagine how we use our financial and property assets. Seven visioning sessions were held, and our parish came up with over 200 unique ideas to help us imagine how we might “do church” a bit differently. These sessions were great listening opportunities as well.
To get our arms around the visioning process, and to make sure that we followed best practices from churches who have undertaken this work before us (and there were many), we formed a Visioning Management Team (VMT). Through their research, the VMT provided valuable insights and direction, so that we could structure our work most effectively. Part of this included the Episcopal Church Foundation’s guidelines to determine our unique “Core Values”, as well as to develop Vision and Mission statements. We’ve taken to calling them “VMCV”.
The vestry’s listening efforts, over many months, bore fruit in mid-December, when we finalized the long process of reaching consensus on the VMCV. You will be hearing more about these in the weeks to come. While the vestry is proud of the work they have done, the VMCV are simply a milestone in the visioning work we have undertaken. So I will touch on the VMCV briefly and look to have many conversations with you in the coming weeks.
Our Vision is the desired future state, while our Mission is how we will go about getting there. Core values define what we stand for and what brings life to St. Stephens.
A world made whole through God’s transforming love in action.
Embracing and living God’s commandment to love our neighbors – through worship, stewardship, and service to others.
We are an inclusive, welcoming community that nurtures the spiritual development of all members in the recognition that often God is revealed to us through love, respect, and care for others.
In the spirit of the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ, we are committed to using our gifts in service to our neighbors and others in God’s created world.
We are committed to using our assets and blessings with great care in order for our beautiful, historic church to remain relevant and sustainable for this generation and those that follow.
These are beautiful words (and perhaps aspirational) but again the completion of the VMCV is simply a launching point for the visioning work that remains. As we contemplate the work ahead of us, these will act as a set of “strategic filters” for the visioning ideas that will, and have already, been revealed to us. We will be asking ourselves: does this idea/process/ministry support our Vision, Mission, and Core Values? If so, it stands a much better chance of support and hence success. If it does not, we risk putting our (finite) energy and resources behind something that may not work in our unique parish.
We (your vestry and rector) see this as an interactive process throughout the 2018 year.