Phase One – The 90-day Journey- January 2019
By April 2, the small groups each finished their 90-day journey. We have reflected on our church, our faith, and our community through discernment, observation, writing, interviews, and spiritual practices. We have gathered data that reveals a new understanding of our community and ourselves. During this time, Kevin has encouraged us to ask how we might bring about the realm of God in the Santa Cruz mountains by responding to the deepest needs of our community.
Emerging themes that have occurred in all of the small reVision groups have centered on Thriving in a Safe Community(e.g., fire safety, health and well-being), Building a Nurturing Community(e.g., community- building and social events) andCreating a Learning and Resource Center(e.g., classes on mountain living, conflict resolution, information sharing.)
Phase Two – The Convergence Summit and Formation of Proposal Teams
The Convergence Summit was an idea incubator around these emerging themes. Participants considered the information from Phase I that led to the themes and discussed them in small groups with respect to how the themes could meet the deepest needs of the community. Everyone chose the theme on which they would most like to brainstorm, and groups reorganized around the themes to begin generating their theme-specific ideas. As ideas were generated, documented, discussed and organized, the excitement grew.
During the lunch break, the facilitators/guides distilled the ideas into about a half dozen discrete ideas arising from the theme tables. The individual ideas were hung around the room in Whitaker Hall. After lunch, each of the ideas were explained briefly by representatives of the theme table that generated the idea.
After reviewing the various ideas, each participant rose and stood by the idea they wished to further investigate and develop. A proposal team was formed with a first task of creating a name for their team. Five proposal teams were formed: Fire Safety and Roads, Mountain Hang-out, Intergenerational Resource Center, Community-Building Events and Connected Through Adventures.
As we closed the Convergence Summit, we celebrated and honored all the work we have accomplished thus far in reVision, and thank God for guiding us in this work.
Phase Three – Proposal Teams and Proposals
The newly formed proposal teams were recognized and consecrated on Easter Sunday 2019. On May 5, the proposal teams had a workshop to define the steps of creating a proposal, including how to:
· Create a timeline for implementation
· Create a budget with people/hours, resources, materials and money required
· Identify people involved inside the church
· Identify partners outside the church,
· Define multiple activities/actions that produce the desired outcome
· Define communication strategies to create community engagement
The proposal team also discussed these important questions and summarized their answers in the proposal:
· How is this consistent with our values and purpose as a church?
· How will this foster spiritual formation and community engagement?
· Does this connect to or potentially replace an existing ministry?
Phase Four – Action Summit and Implementation Plan Phase
The five proposal teams presented an activity from their final proposal to the entire congregation at the Action Summit on July 21.
The congregation voted on the proposed activities and the Proposal teams became Action teams to implement the activities. Anyone interested in implementing a particular activity joined the Action teams, including people outside the church.
As reVision at Skyland Church progresses, we seek to become the kind of church God is calling us to be through ministries and missions that serve the deepest needs of our local community.
Participate, generate, create and celebrate! Thank you God for the stamina and wisdom to change.
The Interim Period July 2018-June 2020
Skyland Church is currently in an “interim period,” the transition time between a settled pastor’s leaving, and a new settled pastor’s arrival. This is an important time for rediscovery of a church’s identity, their calling and the role that they want to play in their community.
The first step is to find an interim minister.
Reverend Kevin Omi began serving as our intentional interim minister on September 24, 2018.
The second step is a process of discernment and revitalization.
With the guidance of Reverend Omi, Skyland Church will review the five focus areas defined for transitional ministry: heritage, leadership, mission, connections, and future.
Much of the early part of this work will take place via the reVision program with Daniel Ross-Jones, our Associate Conference Minister beginning on January 6, 2019 with the 90 Day Journey, which integrates small group discussions, worship and reVision themes. Our next step is the Convergence Summit on April 7, during which ideas identified during the 90-Day Journey will be shared and a few selected. Proposals will be created by late June and the congregation will vote on the proposals for new ministries that will be launched.
The third step is to search for and “call” a settled minister.
Skyland Church followed the UCC protocols to form and commission a search committee for a settled minister in 2020.
We have an exciting year ahead of us in 2019, including regular Sunday services, reVision, and Interim Time activities. Rev. Kevin has created a consolidated roadmap that sequences our activities so we don’t have too much going on in a given month.
The core leadership for the reVision program consists of Rev. Kevin Omi, Deana Arnold, Jackie Seymour and Anne Evans. Rev. Daniel Ross-Jones is our official coach from the NCNC UCC, and Rev. Kevin will act as our on-site coach. Our small-group leaders are Marcia Rollins, Jan Swayne, Patricia Wood, and Jeremy Cole, in addition to the core leaders, Deana Arnold, Jackie Seymour and Anne Evans.
On November 3 all of these leaders received training, developed and conducted by Rev. Daniel and Rev. Kevin using the reVision program. This training encompassed small group processes and theology, and preparations for the 90-day journey. The small-group leaders then received emails from the Center for Progressive Renewal to help them further prepare for the 90-day journey.
Small Group meetings began on January 6, Epiphany Sunday. There will be one meeting per small group every two weeks for 90 days. Rev. Kevin is excited to begin this journey with Skyland Church, and has been encouraging and supportive to all the lay leaders who are willing to volunteer their personal time to help our church grow and listen for where God is calling us to go, as we begin reVision and move through this Interim Time.
Discernment and Openness: 90-Day Journey
90-Day Journey – “Be Open”
The small-group work will encompass discernment, spiritual practices, and time for generating ideas.
Discernment: Discernment is rooted in our relationship with God. It calls us to be open to the God of surprises and possibilities. In discerning, we seek to distinguish the voice of the Divine Caller from the many other voices in our environment and culture. It requires that we pray and reflect on the real question before seeking answers; it asks us to generate a wider range of options instead of settling for the familiar. Discernment involves opening our entire selves to the work of the Holy Spirit. It bids us to let go of preconceived ideas so that we can be open to new possibilities with a readiness to view things from new perspectives. (Suzanne Farnham: Grounded in God)
Spiritual Practices will include individual and group practice, i.e., prayer, meditation, reading and discussing scripture, fasting, tithing money or time, and journaling.
Idea generation: Ideas arise out of interviews of each other and of neighbors in the community, as well as out of the talents, gifts and passions of our whole congregation.
The ideas generated in the small groups are presented and discussed at the Convergence Summit in April in front of the whole congregation and any interested community members. New groups form around their chosen ideas and proposals are developed for the Action Summit in June.
Background: The reVision Program
In March 2018, the congregation voted unanimously to participate in the reVision program. In this program, churches work with curriculum and a coach to deepen their connection to God, to each other and to the wider community and world.
ReVision gives us fresh insights and energy as we look to the future. The program is designed to go deeply into our spiritual lives, both individually and together, and help us attune ourselves more fully to what we feel God is calling us to do in our community and in the world. Our associate conference minister, Daniel Ross-Jones, is also excited about what this program could do for our church. He would be our coach throughout the process.
A “Convergence Summit” will be held in April where everyone in our congregation will meet to discuss the inspirations conceived in the small groups and decide together which ones to pursue. “Proposal Teams” would then work with the coach to develop projects based on the inspirations. Later in the year at an “Action Summit,” each team would present a plan to implement their project to the congregation. The church will then decide which projects to implement.
By participating in the reVision process together, we will strengthen our connections to God and to each other and jump start some new ministries in our community.