by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          April 29, 2020

Despite the pandemic, we are still moving forward. There isBCCUCC Barrington Congregational Church a lot happening with our church. As many of you know, after the first few weeks of “stay at home” (where things were virtually at a standstill), we have been slowly getting ourselves back to some semblance of “normal” in church. Worship seems to be hitting its stride, Happy Hour and Coffee Hour have moved online, most of our teams, boards and groups have started meeting regularly (virtually of course), and the church has adapted pretty well to our new mode of operating. No doubt, there are still major disruptions to our “typical” flow of ministry, especially when it comes to visitation and pastoral connections, but we are doing our best to keep our ministries happening. As a part of this, there are two major initiatives happening in our church life that I want to make sure you are aware of.

Search for an Associate Minister of Congregational Life

The first of those initiatives you may have heard about this past week. We are moving forward in the process of hiring a new settled Associate Minister. It seems to me that Linda just arrived here at BCCUCC and we are blessed with the ministry and leadership she is providing. She’s been great to work with and I pray you have appreciated her leadership in worship and elsewhere. However, our contract with Linda was set for 11 months and that means we need to be looking ahead to next January when we hope to welcome a new settled associate minister. There is a lot of work that needs to be done before that can happen.

The church council recently released a job description outlining what they are suggesting we need in a settled associate. They have named this position the Associate Minister of Congregational Life. This new title denotes a shift in the focus of the associate position from primarily focusing on children and youth, to focusing on people of all ages as we journey through life. They will place specific emphasis on youth and senior ministries but will try to take an inter-generational approach to their ministry. We thought this would be especially helpful in addressing the current needs of our church family and permit our other staff members (primarily Andrea and me) to focus our efforts in other areas of need within our congregation. All our staff will continue to work collaboratively to address our broad mission to “worship God, embrace all people, minister to one another, work for justice and peace, and render loving service to God’s world.”

With this background work done, we will move forward in recruiting a search committee. Although this work will need to begin during social distancing, it is important to keep moving forward. It is more difficult, but manageable (we hope). Along these lines, if you have suggestions for search committee candidates, please forward them to Kate Colby (kcolby@fullchannel.net) by May 4.

A New Church Structure

You may recall the angst we experienced at last year’s annual meeting over a severely depleted nominating slate. Despite their best efforts the Membership Team put forth a list of nominations which contained a significant number of vacancies. For those of you who have been a part of BCCUCC over the years, you know this has been a growing trend for the better part of a decade. BCCUCC is not alone in this reality. During the discussion after electing our nominees, the congregation decided to create a group that would look into this issue and explore how to change our by-laws to streamline our ministry team structure. A handful of intrepid souls stepped up at the meeting to undertake this task. This group, The Vision 2020 (and beyond…) Team, has met regularly since last June.

It was initially the hope of this group to share with the congregation many of our findings at the annual budget meeting in January. However, we quickly learned that this exploration is a significant undertaking and we were not prepared to reveal our work at that time. We then anticipated having some congregational informational sessions through the spring with the hope of presenting a plan at our annual meeting in June. This time it was the pandemic which derailed us. However, this group continues to meet and is making tremendous progress.

Over the past 10 months we have met with the leadership of every ministry team in the church, explored the wide variety of ministries we engage in, broken down every individual task completed by staff and volunteers in the church, and researched a wide variety of church structures utilized by congregations around the country. More recently we have narrowed our work down to a particular model of ministry which we think may work well for our church and community. We are currently molding that structure to meet our specific needs and hopes. Again, the pandemic disrupted this important work, but the Vision 2020 (and beyond…) Team is now working strong and hard. We hope to have more detailed information to present to you in the foreseeable future.

Moving Forward

Life during the Covid-19 pandemic has been rough. Everything takes more effort and a longer time-frame than anticipated, but we are all adjusting; not just with these projects, but all across our church and personal lives. I want to thank all of those involved with these projects and others throughout the church as we keep working to be an effective and relevant part of our broader community. Things may be more difficult at times, but thanks to you we keep moving forward.