This is an exciting time to be a part of our congregation. After several years of transition from the distinguished and long tenure of Frank Hall through the interim ministry of Roberta Finklestein to calling me as your new senior minister this congregation is rightfully relieved to be “happily moving on” as one leader put it. There is much to celebrate; worship is full and lively, our classrooms are filling up with children, our social justice work is increasing in effectiveness and reach, our pastoral care team is expanding, adult faith formation is focusing on several new spiritual offerings, small groups are gaining strength and our staff is efficient and responsive.
And yet with so much happening we are far from being done with our transition work. I came to you fully aware that we would have several more years of work to do as we grew into the large program church we have the potential to be.
Several weeks ago in my sermon “Liberating Theology” I spoke of my plan to carry us through this remaining transition. We have already begun the first phase, that of turning intentionally towards justice making opportunities in Bridgeport. This spring we will formally join the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, the first non-Christian congregation to do so. We are expanding on the good work we have already been doing and will continue to do so. The second phase will happen next year as we work together on a covenant of right relations; a congregational effort to help us better manage conflict and remain in a loving relationship with one another. The third phase will be for us to revisit our mission statement, along with an intentional outreach to younger populations. Finally, I hope we will consider creating a shared theology that undergirds our identity and effectiveness.
This will take more than a few years. Along the way we will need to complete our shift to policy styled governance, increase the effectiveness of our volunteers and staff and think more creatively about what our congregation means for the decades before us. We will hit some bumps in the road, bumps we are familiar with. Even in this first year of our shared ministry our leadership has struggled to complete earlier transitions at some personal cost. Your leaders are to be heartily thanked and encouraged to stay the course. We will reach the promised land.
Now we need your help. When asked to serve, please volunteer. And when asked to make a pledge to our next year’s operating budget please do your part. Our goal in this pledge drive is 100% participation from every member and friend of this congregation. We can reach our dreams but it will take all of us pulling together. Please pledge soon.
I have never been more committed to a congregation and its dynamic future as I am to you. Join me in realizing the power of our ministry in the lives of those we know and those we have yet to serve.
With Grace and Grit, Rev. John