Where are we going? I get asked this question quite often. When are we going to build a new building? When are going to start this or that new program? All of these questions are on the minds of folks at St. Nicholas, and rightly so. We are in growth mode, which is an exciting place to be. We just moved to two services in August because our worship space was getting limited with only one. We just hired a fantastic music director who is building a solid music program. We are doing more education programs for all ages. There is a LOT going on at St. Nicholas.
This past weekend, our music director Sam Roney, the Vestry, and I gathered at the home of Tom and Sharon Cheatham for our annual Vestry Retreat. This is a very important meeting of the Vestry, as it includes our planning for the upcoming year.
This past year, the Vestry did some really great work on redeveloping our core values and mission statement, which are as follows:
In fulfillment of the Great Commission, the mission of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Harris County, Georgia is to be an example to the world of Christ’s love for all people. We do this by:
+Being welcoming & inviting of all people.
+Being supportive of our community & engaged in our community.
+Accepting where people are in their journey.
+Helping in any way, spiritually or physically
+Nurturing spiritual growth
+Educating people about who we are, what we do, and what we believe.
Or, to be brief, our mission is to be an example of Christ’s love.
This year, the Vestry invited DaAnna Stringer, a consultant, a teacher, and organizational coach from Cumming, Georgia. She was recommended to us by the rector of St. Paul’s in Newnan who used her in the same way to develop a new mission and vision for his congregation. Da (pronounced “day”) led us in looking even closer at our core values, which are the things that make us who we are as a congregation. Then, using principles from the business world, Da led us into thinking about shaping our vision for the next 5 to 10 years. Much of what Da used was from The Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono and Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James Collins and Jerry Porras.
All of this led us to consider our BHAG (“big, hairy, audacious goal or as Da called it, “bold, holy, awe-inspiring goal”) for the next 10 to 20 years. Balancing our core purpose (“to be an example of Christ’s love”) and our core values (see above), our next step is to envision our future.
We will be doing this in two ways. First, we have a Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by Nick Simpson. Nick’s group will be looking at the physical plans of St. Nicholas, reviewing our existing building and grounds plans and developing a new master plan. This will take a lot of time over the next year or so and will take a lot of prayer, discussion, and discernment.
Second, the Vestry is continuing to discern the vision of St. Nicholas. Who do we want to be and how do we want to serve Harris County in the next decade and beyond? We will be bringing Da back here in a few months to help us further look at developing our BHAG.
As we do this, we need the support of the entire congregation. We need you to begin dreaming about what you want St. Nicholas to be. We need you to talk with our Vestry members so that they can take the pulse of what everyone is thinking.
All of this takes time and all of it takes individual steps. The Vestry has created a list of reachable goals in the next year to further our journey toward what God is calling us to do. Perhaps first among this to create financial stability in order to have a balanced budget in 2011. Our cash reserves will run out in 2010 unless we do some major work on bringing new people into St. Nicholas and raising the amount of pledges in our stewardship campaign. Before we can build anything, we need to be cautious of this reality. We don’t need to be scared. Instead, we should see this as the challenge set before us. We can do this.
Each area of ministry has goals before them, and each of you are asked to prayerfully consider which of these you want to help with. If you see something on this list you’d like to do, please contact the Vestry liaison connected with the area.
WORSHIP (Sharon Cheatham, liaison)
Recruit more volunteers for Altar Guild and Flower Guild
Conduct Altar guild and Flower guild trainings
Minor repairs on our new organ, and consider adding speakers
Look into getting a clavinova
Survey the congregation on musical gifts
Raise funds for Choir robes
Recruit new Readers, Lay Eucharistic Ministers and Ushers and conduct a training
EDUCATION (Michelle Moody, liaison)
Order new Living the Good News curriculum
Develop St. Nicholas Academy
Plan Vacation Bible School
Conduct Sunday school teacher training
Send our youth on retreats
Continue to develop Adult Bible Study
BUILDING AND GROUNDS (Chris Butzon, liaison)
Purchase temporary storage space
Redecorate administrative space
Look in to selling trees
Update lawn maintenance schedule
Create Buildings and Grounds Standing Committee
Continue with Strategic Planning Committee
Build irrigation system for Memory Garden
Create new Memory Garden Committee
HOSPITALITY (Anne Simpson, liaison)
Create new Foyer Groups
Create a system for welcoming and integrating newcomers
Create Men’s fellowship events
COMMUNICATIONS (Drucye Price, liaison)
Plan, develop, and build new sign on corner of Mobley Road and Highway 116
Continue monthly newsletters
Conduct training on using our website
Create advertising plan
Look at creating a DVD for newcomers
Look into creating a Ustream broadcast of Sunday services
OUTREACH (Graham Horne, liaison)
Establish relationship with Christian Valley Church in Cataula and work together on Ferst Foundation literacy project
Continue participating in Relay for Life
Plan a U2charist in February or March to promote the Millennium Development Goals
Plan an outreach project for our youth group
PARISH LIFE (Sheila Dixon, liaison)
Plan Mardi Gras
Raise funds with a parish yard sale
Raise funds through Lobsterfest and create a leadership structure for it
Continuation of other events (parades, dinners, potluck lunches)
STEWARDSHIP (Dave Halmrast, liaison)
Establish Stewardship Committee
Create an action plan by March for Stewardship Program
As you can see, there are many things on our to-do lists for 2010 as we continue to do God’s work in Harris County. The train is rolling, full-speed ahead, so be sure to jump on board!