August 1, 2012 ends our three-year covenant for revitalization with the Penn Southeast Conference/UCC and our Covenant Pastor, Michael Caine. Last August, Bob Schneider, on behalf of the Elders, wrote the church, outlining a three-step plan for transitioning from the covenant into continued congregational revitalization:
1. Evaluating our revitalization efforts to date.
2. Contracting now with Michael for him to continue as pastor for a specific interim period after the end of the Covenant Ministry.
3. Conducting during the interim period a broadly participatory discernment process, led by a Discernment Task Force, to determine if Michael should continue as our settled pastor.
To begin the evaluation (Step 1), the Revitalization Task Force has developed a multi-pronged assessment (i.e., a survey, talking in smaller focus groups, polling our Standing Leadership Groups). The RTF has also begun to assess other measures of the effectiveness of the revitalization efforts, for example attendance at worship, increases in giving, and new programs and fellowship groups.
For this survey to be helpful in Old First’s planning toward continued revitalization, it will require a robust and broad-based response. Therefore, I urge you to complete the survey.
On Monday, March 19, you will receive an email message with a link to the online survey. For anyone without email access, you can obtain a paper copy of the survey at church this Sunday. The Revitalization Task Force is asking you to complete the survey within one week, by Monday, March 26.
Please also note on your calendar two focus groups sessions that the Revitalization Task Force is scheduling to assist in understanding your evaluations of the revitalization process. These sessions, to be held after worship, are planned for the two Sundays immediately following Easter, April 15 and 22, and will be led by our trained Circle Process facilitators.
At our last Elders meeting, we also began step 2 and will report back to you as we get that accomplished.
Step 3 in this process will commence with the appointment of the Discernment Task Force once the evaluation of the revitalization has been shared with the congregation, most likely by the end of May.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to speak to me. I ask that you keep our church and these efforts in your prayers as we work to determine what God wants from us next.
Steve Wilhite, Moderator