We are in a season of fulfilling a vision at Ford Street Church. For the last 5 years we have held to the vision of being a church that is “Knowing Jesus Christ Today, Growing Devoted Disciples, and Sowing Seeds of Faith for Tomorrow.” The outgrowth of this vision has been most visible in the achievement of 2 central goals 1) the expanded youth and children’s ministry through the sports camp and collaborative youth group efforts with Trinity UMC and 2) the construction of a sacred space and adaptation of our current worship space. We are at an incredible moment in which we see a vision be fulfilled! Its hard to believe that has happened even despite the pandemic and all the stresses which have tested us! God is so GOOD!
It is at this victorious juncture that we need to be honest with ourselves. After 2 years of pandemic, much striving and fruit in ministry, new members added, older members passed away- Are we the same congregation we were 5 years ago? The answer is surely “no”. Do we know what God is calling us to after this moment of accomplishment and vision fulfillment? I think the answer to this is also “no”. That the vision may not fit who we are any longer, or describe quite so adequately where we are going is not surprising. Andy Stanley, a leader in church visioning and planning, has suggested that many church “visions” last only for several years. Ours has done well to last this long! And to bear so much fruit! It is in the wake of these victories that the church council is aware of the need to pause and ask, “WHAT’S NEXT?”
Accordingly, the Church Council has named as a Vision Team Heather Morris, Larry Galliher, Trevor Cress, Joe Harris, Diane Mendenhall, Vicki Wayman, and Jessica Tharp to carefully listen to the congregation and the Spirit of God. This team will provide opportunities for the congregation to listen deeply to its own learnings and to God in the season ahead. They will then work with the Council and Pastor Glenn to distill all of these learnings in to a vision that will lead Ford Street Church into the future.
Here are some ways they hope to do that:
Nov 7 & 14- Pastor Glenn will be talking about the importance of vision in the sermons during worship. A survey will be released to the entire church at this time as a way of praying and reflectively asking who we are at this moment in congregational life. The Vision Team has determined that the survey will be extended with intentionality to both our digital church (yes, those who never have attended in person!), our community church (those who have connections via scouting, back to school bash, senior lunches etc), and our attending congregation (those present in building for worship and members on the rolls). The desire to listen to ALL these groups as we ask, “What is Ford Street Church and What will God have us to be?” is in and of itself a revolution and reflects something that has perhaps changed in a positive way at Ford Street Church in the last 5 years.
Sunday Evenings in November & December via Zoom at 5:15p.m. : Pastor Glenn will be leading a study that pertains to developing a “Culture of Multiplication”. This study focuses on our habits as individuals and as congregation and asks participants to think deeply about ways we can embody Jesus Christ’s presence in our lives. This will be a time of study and prayer as we collectively discern the vision of what is next. This will be open to all people.
Dec 1 @ 6:30p.m.- There will be a Visioning Event open to everyone connected with Ford Street Church. At this event the Vision Team members will lead breakout groups and discussions as the church dreams together about what God has in store next. (Keep in mind, by this time we’ll be worshipping in a new space!)
January 2022: At a Town Hall Discussion & Prayer Meeting the Vision Team will release its reporting of the survey data and the feedback from the Vision event. It is possible that a vision will be emerging at this time.
February 2022: The Vision Team hopes to present a new vision to the Church Council and to the Congregation for adoption. Hopefully through the process of deep listening, prayer, and discernment this will be a leading of God’s Spirit into the future that will lend vitality and clarity to Ford Street Church as we navigate the years ahead!
WHEW! THATS A LOT! It is an exciting time to be a part of Ford Street Church! I hope you will join me in prayer and study as we enter this season of celebration and then the season of prayerful discernment! In that spirit, let us pray:
Loving God, the one Jesus called “Abba,”
You have been with Ford Street Church all the way. You were with this congregation when it first met, birthed from revival meetings in the 1890’s as a United Brethren Church. You were with this congregation when it constructed a Sanctuary during a great pandemic in 1918 and when it did it again in 2021. You were with this congregation in days of great victory, as when the mortgage was paid off and burned for the church building in the height of the Great Depression in 1933- as on the day that Smith Hall was opened and basketball games first played. You were with this congregation in moments of agony, when dearly loved members died, when loss and evil faced members of the church in mighty waves. You have been faithful no matter if these people were United Brethren, EUB, or United Methodist. You have been their God. In these times you have not led them as you did the Hebrew people so long ago by pillar of cloud and fire, but by the still small voice of your Holy Spirit. Lead your church into the future that it might continue to be a witness in Lapel of your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, that it might continue to embody more nearly the reconciling community that is our God, Father, Son, and Spirit. Speak to our hearts in this season with the steadfastness you have always spoken with, and lead us to your vision what is to come. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.