by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          May 1, 2017who what where

     Who are we?
          What do we believe?
               Where are we going?

These are things that any organization (or individual for that matter) that wants to be successful should be able to answer. Think about these questions for a moment:

Who are we as an organization? What defines us? How do we see ourselves? How do others see us? Are we really who we think we are? Or what we want to be?

What do we believe? This is not just our theological beliefs (what we believe about God, Jesus, the Bible, etc.) but also about our core values? What do we hold dear? What are the core beliefs we have that, if were lost, BCCUCC wouldn’t feel like your church anymore?

Where are we going? What does the future hold? Where do we want to be in 5 years or 10 years? What do we want our church to look like as it goes forward? And what do we need to do now to be that church then?

These questions are at the heart of what it means to be a church, a community of faith, and we need to share some common understanding of our answers. A church that tries to go in 100 different directions either stands still, or pulls itself apart! This is why the church council voted in March to hire a church consultant. He or she will come in and work with us to help us answer these questions.

A word about our consultant.
Yes, we have contracted with a church consultant. Two, in fact. BCCUCC has partnered with the Center for Progressive Renewal (CPR) to have two consultants work with us over a period of 18 months to develop and institute a plan for ministry. CPR is a relatively new organization founded out of the United Church of Christ (UCC) to work McKinneywith churches and church leaders to spur the renewal of mainline congregations. For more information check out www.progressiverenewal.org/.

Our first consultant is Dr. William “Bill” McKinney. Bill is the former President and Professor of American Religion at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkley, CA, the oldest seminary in the American west. He is a sociologist of religion by training and an ordained minister in the UCC. His research interests include Protestant congregational dynamics, and the recent history of and prospects for Mainline Protestant denominations. His focus areas are: strategic planning, endowment strategies, and leadership systems dynamics.
Our second consultant is yet to be determined, because her or his expertise will be dependent upon our initial work with Bill.

A word about the process.
Our consulting process will consist of two parts. The first part will take place next fall and will be a time of assessment. This period will take 1-3 months and will involve onsite visits and regular communication between Dr. McKinney and the church community. When onsite, Bill will plan on meeting with staff, church leaders, regular church members, and community leaders in and around Barrington. After his period of learning about and listening to the church and our community, Bill will work with the church leadership to develop a plan of ministry for the congregation to review and implement.

The period of implementation, expected to begin in January of 2018, is the second phase of our contract. For roughly 12 months, we will work with another consultant, acting as a “coach” for the church leadership, to carry out the agreed upon plan. This period will involve regular phone calls and skype meetings with the church council and the minsters on staff.

A word about your involvement.
You have an important role in this process. It is vital that every member of the church participates in this work. you are the churchDuring the assessment phase, you will have the opportunity to meet with Dr. McKinney. We will arrange large and small group interviews, as well as an entire congregational forum, so that everyone who wishes to, has the chance to meet Bill and share their thoughts, dreams, passions, and concerns about our church with him. Additionally, we will be organizing a small “planning team” that will work with Bill to arrange his visit and these meetings with the church and community leaders. Please be sure to avail yourself of these opportunities as they present themselves. You, and your opinions, matter. (If you like to plan ahead, the current date for Bill’s initial assessment visit is Sept. 29-Oct. 2.)

We will also need your participation in phase two of our work. If we devise a plan of ministry that calls for new mission, outreach, or in-reach opportunities, we will need willing people ready to step up and help get these programs off the ground. It doesn’t help us if everyone clamors for a particular ministry during the assessment phase only to sit on their hands during the implementation phase. In short, we need you! You ARE the church!

This is an exciting opportunity for BCCUCC. It has the potential to define who we are, what we believe, and where we are going for the next generation (or at least the next decade). Please be sure to support it with your presence and your prayers. And feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about the process as we prepare for the fall kickoff! God is doing great things in our midst. Do we not perceive it?