November 21, 2018

Vitality Initiative 2017-2018

Dear Parkway Members and Friends,
As many you have heard from our recent announcements, we will be conducting a Vitality Initiative beginning in September. It will be 9-month program in which we will discuss and articulate in writing our congregation’s identity and mission [this might sound like we are rewriting what exists?]; focus on goals and strategies for the next few years; and decide on specific priorities and plans for achieving those goals.
You may recall that almost two years ago [18 months?], after many of us began reading Rev. John Dorhauer’s book, Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World, our Church Council put together a special committee to look at long-range issues.  After consulting with Parkway members and others, including Conference Minister Ginny Brown Daniel, the committee looked into consultants who could guide a vitality process.  The committee found and recommended a consultant, Rev. John Wimberly, who has extensive experience working with churches, to guide and lead that process, following a plan he has used with many other churches of varied denominations including our UCC.  Council considered the matter and approved hiring Rev. Wimberly. (His fee is reasonable and more than half of it has already been paid through special contributions.)
The heart of the Vitality Initiative will be a 9-month process, beginning on the weekend of September 15-17 with several sessions led by Rev. Wimberly.  After that, we’ll follow up, through our commissions and committees and special focus groups, with advice and guidance from Rev. Wimberly.  Rev. Wimberly will join us again in St. Louis next May, helping us develop a set of robust priorities and action plans, to guide us in moving forward.  He will also consult with us in the following year as we put our plans into action.
If this process sounds a bit business-like, it is, because the work of our church deserves the same quality attention and focus as occurs in the business world.  (It also may be influenced by the fact that our consultant, though a veteran pastor, is also the author of a book titled, The Business of the Church:  The Uncomfortable Truth that Faithful Ministry Requires Effective Management.)
Those of us who have talked with Rev. Wimberly have found him to be an engaging person who passionately cares about making churches strong, even amid difficult social-cultural trends.  He clearly relishes the opportunity to help an active and engaged church like Parkway move to the next level in ministry and mission.  And though he is a Presbyterian, he told us that he thinks that “if anyone is well positioned in Christendom, it is the UCC – it has the right message and the right history.”
We welcome everyone to participate as the Vitality Initiative begins next month.  On Friday, September 15, Rev. Wimberly will meet with Pastor Kevin, our church staff, and council leadership.  On Saturday, September 16, from 8am to 1pm he will conduct a program for our church leadership, the Vitality Initiative planning committee, and other involved church members.  (If you would like to attend, you qualify!)  And on Sunday, September 17, he will attend both services, and we will have a lunch afterward.  During the lunch, he’ll give a complete overview of the process and how each of us can participate.  We have sign-up sheets in the Gathering Space for the Saturday and Sunday sessions.
We look forward to the involvement of everyone at Parkway as we begin this initiative to strengthen our ministry and mission.
For a flavor of where this journey may lead us – see some of these articles on Church Vitality – includes a couple by our consultant, John Wimberly:
If you only read one of these VERY BRIEF ARTICLES, please read this one!2.
I think this one helps us with the WHY ARE WE DOING THIS CONSULTANT THING question.
This one was written by Wimberly himself.3.
In our US climate right now, this is a really helpful piece on a ‘culture audit’ for our church. Interesting …4.
How to structure ourselves and how to equip, send off and encourage our commissions/committees without micromanaging

Suggestions on how to make church committee meetings more productive

This is one of the reasons we are engaging in the Core Music Project – being more intentional about the songs we sing in worship! (Wimberly wrote this one as well.)

Mark Sableman, Vitality Initiative Committee                          Kevin Hogarty, Council President                                                       
Kevin Cameron, Pastor