Three years ago this month large number of church leaders crowded into the hot basement and met with George Howard from The United Methodist Church for All People for a weekend of visioning and ministry consultation. The fruits of that weekend were four audacious goals for ministry as we embarked upon the establishment of The Free Store, The Growing Community Garden, The KL&F Food Pantry, and a The Emerging Worship Service. We worked out of a mission that Sunnyside is being called to a bold and committed journey of discipleship; engaging in service, united in God’s purpose.
As soon as the weekend was over small teams of committed people went to work on our ministry goals and within one year Sunnyside saw unforeseen changes in ministry and in worship attendance. I remember filling out our annual statistical reports with Ruth and laughed as our “number of people served” increased by the thousands in that one year alone. We also saw a significant increase of 14% in worship attendance, and the following Easter we welcomed 12 new members into the congregation. Our growth was the direct result of a compelling vision for the future and our commitment to seeing that vision through.
At the President’s 2nd Inauguration, United Methodist Minister, Rev. Adam Hamilton was invited to preach in the National Cathedral at the inaugural prayer service in front of President Obama and his staff. The focus of Adam’s sermon was vision and in his message he made the point that “A compelling vision has power. It unifies. It excites. It leads people to a willingness to sacrifice and imbues them with a sense of purpose.” Looking back on our past few years at Sunnyside it is evident that this statement has been true for our community. Many of our newer members came precisely because they were compelled by our commitment to the work of justice in the community, and I would add that many continued to attend because of our inspiring worship services and strong sense of community. We had what Adam Hamilton named. The results were a surge of growth both numerically and spiritually.
Our growth however has plateaued and its always the business of the church to move forward and continue to grow because growth means that we are creating new disciples for Jesus Christ, which ultimately is why we exist. A church that is not making new disciples for Jesus Christ has ceased to be the church.
All that being said, the church leadership has discerned that it is time for Sunnyside RE-VISION and establish new goals for ministry to propel us into a new period of growth. The first step in this process will be the establishment of a new vision statement and core values. (A Vision Statement tells us where we are going. Core Values are our non-negotiables: words / phrases which represent the heart of our congregation). The Church Leadership is currently working on a new vision statement and core values for our congregation and we need YOUR INPUTE in the process. If you are a member or a committed participant in the life of this church please save two very important dates.
August 17th immediately following worship we will have a 1 hour meeting for the congregation to review and hopefully approve our vision statement and core values. The work of the leadership team will be before you with plenty of time to review and give it prayerful consideration prior to this date.
September 13th, from 8:30am to 5pm @ The Sisters of St. Joseph / Transformations there will be a visioning / strategic planning retreat led by Rev. Gordy Barry of Stevensville UMC. All members and committed persons are encouraged (dare I say expected?) to attend the entirety of this meeting. With our vision statement, and core values before us, Rev. Gordy will work with us to create a new 3-5 year plan for ministry; establishing goals and creating teams of people to help us reach those goals.
Then at our annual charge conference (Date TBT) we will officially approve our new vision statement, core values, and strategic plan for ministry.
This is an exciting and important time in the life of our church so please come and allow God to speak through you so the entirety of our congregation can be well represented!