On Sunday, November 17th, worship centered around a time of visioning. During the worship service, I asked people to answer two questions.
The first question was:
“If you were asked to describe Oakland UMC, what would you say?”
Answers included: “A place where all are welcome; family (security, acceptance, belonging); community; unconditional love; caring; support; community outreach; built on a strong foundation of faith from our forefathers and mothers; a willingness to help others; part of a global connection.”
The second question was:
“What have we done as a congregation over the past 18 months?”
Answers included: Sunday worship, choir, Communion, baptisms, weddings, Sunday school, bible study, VBS, missions, funerals, special worship services (Christmas Eve, Holy Week, Easter, All Saints Sunday); youth group, community meals, birthday parties, Koinonia fellowship time, church committees, confirmation, community aid and assistance fund, social media (Facebook), celebrations, banners, food pantry, and community events in our building, and many other things
I then asked the congregation to divide into small groups and write 1-3 vision statements for our congregation for the coming year.
Here are those vision statements:
- Serving God through our time, talents and gifts so that we grow in Christ-like love for others.
- Taking what we learn in Sunday worship into the rest of the week and sharing it with others.
- Worship that ties together a theme through song, scripture, and sermon, including scriptures for the week to carry on what was studied in worship.
- Having plans of action to put our faith into our everyday lives.
- Making Oakland UMC a place for everyone.
- Creating bonds within our own church and with other local churches.
- Nurturing young people to take the next steps with Jesus.
- Creating a place where faith and the real world intersect.
- Fostering a welcoming place for the youth group to serve on Sunday and be involved in other ministries within our church.
- Sharing the love of our God using our prayers, resources, talents, and skills to uplift our church family, our community, and our world.
- Outreach to community youth (e.g. family fun night, play area), mission and worship.
- Becoming welcoming and accessible to more people of varying abilities (handicapped).
- Encouraging people to personally grow and find their gifts for sharing their faith.
- Getting more young people in the community involved in Oakland UMC.
- Providing opportunities through the church for people to experience and know God & Jesus.
- As a part of the Body of Christ, experience and share God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit by putting God’s word into action and being the hands and feet of Christ.
- Being Christ’s representative on earth.
- Opening the Bible and following God’s directions.
- Leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ.
- Seeking to grow in Christ so that we may share Christ with others.
These visions are what guide us in our ministry and help us fulfill our mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ.
And as I read through these visions, I am encouraged.
I see us as a congregation of people that want to:
- Connect our worship and faith to our daily lives.
- Involve more children, youth, and young adults in our church and in worship.
- Be involved in our community in meaningful ways.
- Put our faith into action through service -- sharing our time, talents, and gifts in mission and ministry within and beyond our church walls.
- Share Christ and help others experience the love of God/Christ so that they might become followers of Christ.
- Grow in our faith and in our relationship to God/Christ through worship, study, and service so that we might become more fully devoted followers of Christ.
- Create community within our church.
- Be a family -- a place where everyone is welcome and our building is fully handicapped accessible.
- Connect to and work with other churches in our community in mission and worship.
As I said in my last newsletter article, changes are coming to the United Methodist Church in 2020 and beyond. Just what those changes will be, what form the UMC will take going forward from General Conference 2020, and how changes in the denomination will affect annual conferences, pastors, and local congregations is unknown. But pastors and congregations that are clear on their mission, their vision, and their core values will be better able to navigate these coming changes. I think that Oakland UMC is one of those congregations. We have a clear sense of our mission, vision, and values that will guide us into the coming year and beyond, whatever changes take place in the United Methodist Church.
I look forward to being your pastor and being in ministry with you as we go forward into the future together, wherever God leads us.
Please continue to pray for our congregation, each other, myself as your pastor, and for our denomination in this uncertain, yet exciting time.