We have formed a team that is crafting a strategic plan that will guide our ministries for the next two to five years. This plan is two-fold. One part of the plan deals with our budget shortfall and is strategizing how we can close the gap between our income and spending. This part of the plan has been assigned to the Finance and Facilities Team. The first step the Finance and Facilities Team will be taking to close the income/spending gap is to try to raise more income. They intend to do this through a multi-faceted approach which includes increasing the average giving of our members and constituents, increasing income from outside groups, holding fundraisers, targeting individuals/couples in the church for endowments, working on freeing up existing endowments so that they can be spent, and cutting the budget where possible. There is not a lot of fat in our budget, so that last one is a last resort. If you have any further ideas regarding closing the income/spending gap, talk with Charlie Boyd.
The second half of the strategic plan has to do with church growth. The Strategic Planning Team realizes that at the root of our financial struggles is a decline in membership and worship attendance. The United Methodist Church, at least in the Pacific Northwest, has been experiencing decline for the last 50 or more years. Lately, it seems that the decline has accelerated. I think this is due to many factors, including a paradigm shift on what church membership means, and aging congregations.
Church growth has been a focal point for the United Methodist Church (along with every other denomination) for a very long time. There are no easy answers to this complex and challenging situation. To turn this trend around will require a recommitment to evangelism, and a greater willingness on our member’s part to share their faith story with others. This must be accompanied by a greater willingness to invite others to worship and other church events. Worship is not the only entry point into the life of this congregation. The community dinner, the youth group, the small groups, the AA group, the quilting group, etc., all can be entry points into the life of this congregation. But people won’t come unless we invite them.
Another part of the strategic plan is to carve out a niche for our church in our community. We have been discussing becoming a Reconciling Congregation for some time. To be a Reconciling Congregation is to publicly state that everyone is welcome in our church, without exceptions or caveats. While the Reconciling Congregation movement has been aimed at helping the LGBTQ community to know that certain churches are safe places for them, our welcome must be broader than that. I believe Jesus practiced radical hospitality so that he could be in ministry with any and all persons. The Strategic Planning Team will be crafting a Welcoming Statement that will eventually establish us as a Reconciling Congregation.
We’re just getting started on this work, so if you are interested in joining the team, you are welcome. We meet on the first Sunday of the month at 12:30 p.m. Can we really turn around our church’s decline? My answer to that is, look what Jesus did with only 12 people. I’ll see you in church.
Sermon Texts, Themes, and Titles for March
We strive to make worship meaningful, relevant, and challenging each and every Sunday. You are challenged to make worship a regular part of your life. You are invited to take some time to read the Scripture and reflect on the passages before each worship service.
March 4th: Am I Accepted? The Scripture passage will be John 8:1-11 and the theme will be Jesus’ love and acceptance of us.
March 11th: Where Is God? The Scripture passage will be John 1:1-5, 14 and the theme will be how does God works in the world.
March 18th: Guest Preacher! Tom will be out of town, so we will have a guest preacher this morning. Filling the pulpit for Tom will be the Rev. Golden Neal.
March 25th: What about Suffering? This is Palm/Passion Sunday. The Scripture passage will be Matthew 27:27-31 and the theme will be God’s role in our suffering.
March 30th: Good Friday Service!
Worship is a vital part of a growing and vibrant faith. So make sure you attend on a regular basis. And bring a friend or two with you. It’s a great way to introduce someone to Jesus.
New District Superintendent for the Crest to Coast Missional District: Rev. Kathleen Weber
Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky intends to appoint the Rev. Kathleen Weber to serve on the Pacific Northwest and Greater Northwest Area cabinets as District Superintendent for the Crest to Coast Missional District, beginning July 1, 2018. She will be the first superintendent of this newly formed district comprising all of the churches in the current Vancouver District and fifteen churches from the southern end of the Tacoma District.
A second generation United Methodist pastor, Rev. Weber received her Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology in 2003 and her first appointment in 2005 as associate pastor to Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church. In 2011, she accepted her current appointment as pastor to Trinity United Methodist Church in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. In that missional context, Weber also serves on the Ballard Food Bank’s board and on the Community Advisory Committee for Nickelsville Ballard, a city sanctioned tent encampment. She is married to Dr. Danae Dotolo.
Centralia First UMC's Strategic Plan
Vision: To practice extravagant hospitality and live out the radical inclusivity that Jesus Christ modeled for us so that all persons find a safe harbor in this church.
There are so many people in our community who have felt unwelcomed by the church in general. Particular subgroups (LGBT and those who struggle with mental illness for example) have been judged and condemned, and often feel that the church is an enemy as opposed to a source of comfort and support.Throughout his ministry, Jesus was constantly reaching out and incorporating into his ministry the disenfranchised and marginalized.His unconditional love and acceptance of others was the catalyst of reconciliation and transformation.
Our target audience is all those who have felt unwelcomed by the Church, as well as the millennial generation who do not see homosexuality as a sin. Given the progressive nature of this vision, those of a more liberal mindset would also be targeted.
One of the first action steps would be for us to launch a study on officially becoming a Reconciling Congregation. The Reconciling Ministries Network only has one official step in becoming a reconciling congregation, and that is to craft a welcoming statement.After the church officially adopts this welcoming statement, individuals would be given the opportunity to declare themselves Reconciling United Methodists.
A second action step in this plan is to rework our published information regarding our church to reflect this change. Newsletters, websites, Facebook page, brochure, etc. would all have to be updated.
A third action step is to establish and nurture a deepening relationship with the student body at Centralia College. In order to reach out to the millennial generation, we would take advantage of our close proximity to Centralia College.Some actions steps include strengthening our connection with the College by holding a Pastor Chat type gathering on a weekly basis at the new Student Union building upon it’s completion.
Another action step is to erect a chalkboard of some sort that engages the students in thought-provoking ways. For example, on the chalkboard are printed, “My Biggest Regret…” and people are invited to share their thoughts.At another time, the words, “Love is…” are printed on the chalkboard, and students are again asked to share their thoughts.This could be an ongoing interaction.Results would be posted on our Facebook page as well as our website.
The timeline for these action steps vary. The goal of becoming a Reconciling Congregation can begin immediately so that it is completed by the end of January 2017.
The chalkboard outreach is in process and should be up by the end of 2016.
And as soon as the TransAlta Student Commons is completed (scheduled to be done by September 2016) we will begin to hold our Pastor Chats there. The hope is to offer the students an opportunity to meet and get to know the pastor, and maybe even engage the pastor in some theological conversation.Hopefully, these contacts will eventually lead to more millennials worshipping in our church.
Benchmarks we will be striving to meet include a greater participation from the LGTQ community in the life of the church.
Another benchmark will be increased participation in worship, outreach, missions, etc. from the millennial generation. The millennial generation is defined as people born between 1977 and 1994.
The stakeholders include the pastor and all the leadership team. They will be primarily responsible for carrying out and sharing this vision.
Most of the action steps do not require any additional funds.
We will begin by sharing our vision with the rest of the leadership team. Their buy in will be key.We will also use publications such as our newsletter to communicate the plan to the congregation.Our website and Facebook page will also be key in spreading the word.