On March 19th, we had our Visioning retreat that marked the culmination of our nearly 18 month journey of visioning and strategic planning. Through unanimous agreement, we solidified our Vision Statement and our three strategic priorities:
Vision Statement: FCC of Milton is an open Christian community for all to belong, grow, and engage the world in acts of service and justice.
- Belong. As a community of faith, we will provide opportunities for fun, for relationship building, and for spiritual and intergenerational connections that cultivate diversity and value all people for who they are.
- Grow. We will provide a nurturing environment where all people can pursue personal growth and deepen their faith and spirituality, wherever they are on life’s journey.
- Engage. We will provide and communicate ways to connect our members and participants with opportunities to engage in acts of community service, stewardship of the earth, and social justice in collaboration with other churches and organizations.
This journey began at the annual meeting in 2022 when we voted to begin a strategic planning and visioning process. We began by hosting 9 internal listening sessions to identify what our most important values as a congregation are. We ended up with a list of our most important values. By far, the value that the most people identified as important was a sense of community and belonging for everyone, followed by a commitment to racial and social justice, diversity, and the opportunity for people of all ages to experience spiritual growth.
Last summer, in partnership with East Congregational Church, we turned to our broader community and discerning its needs. We took prayer walks through local communities and conducted interviews with other organizations, churches, and leaders in the surrounding community to listen for community needs. Again, we heard a whole host of needs, including mental health challenges, safe spaces for belonging and community formation, and environmental and social justice. We also heard that there is a strong need for more volunteers/engagement and for bold partnerships.
At the beginning of this year, we began to focus on how we can turn all of this information into specific, concrete goals and priorities for the next few years. To that end, we sent out a congregational survey soliciting specific ideas. We had 38 people return the survey. While there were a number of ideas and goals that people named, some of the most common themes/priorities were:
- Continue to support our music program which was identified as one of our strongest areas.
- Nourish was identified as an exciting new ministry with opportunity for growth.
- Reach out to the elderly and address food insecurity and mental health challenges.
- Help people who are part of the live stream audience become engaged members.
- Do more for racial and social justice and increase the diversity of our congregation.
- Rebuild our Sunday school and children’s program to where it was before the pandemic.
- Plan and host community-wide events (like the strawberry festival, caroling on the common, etc.)
- Increase member engagement and develop more leaders within the church.
- Prioritize small group participation.
- Some challenges people identified are: continued division over political/ideological differences, the need for a settled pastor, and possibly rethinking our church governance structure.
The Vision team used all of this data in planning the retreat. The Vision Statement and priorities are a reflection of the common themes and values that we heard throughout the entire process.
We believe our work developing our Vision Statement and Strategic Priorities will impact our church in at least two specific ways:
1) The Church Council will work with all of our committees to integrate our vision and priorities into the overall life of the congregation. Each committee will be encouraged to use the Vision Statement and Priorities as a compass to guide their work. For example, how is our church budget reflecting our three priorities? How can our Sunday school program be structured to reflect our priorities? How can Nourish promote our priorities?
2) Our work at the retreat has led to some ministry ideas bubbling up organically. Some of our members are already planning to try to start new small groups and ways to reach out to the surrounding community. The beauty of a congregational church is that we truly believe in the “priesthood of every believer.” You can read about the specific ways we are trying to live into our priorities by clicking HERE. We will also be sure to notify the congregation about these new opportunities as they develop and R.G. would love to talk with anyone who has an idea that you think we should work on together.
This work is the result of so many members choosing to participate in listening sessions, participate in prayer walks and community interviews, complete the survey, and attend the retreat. We had excellent participation throughout and feel that our Vision Statement and Priorities reflect the hopes of our congregation and, more importantly, have faithfully discerned who God is calling us to be. Thanks so much to all of you who participated and we look forward to continuing working together to live into this vision.
Members of the Vision Team