Slideshow image

Please note: A link to the page containing this letter (and all other resources mentioned in the letter) can be found here.

A direct link to a more detailed version of the letter below can be found here

Dear First United Church,

Welcome to Fall! It has been a strange time in which we have been living these past number of months. As you know, in February 2020 First United Church began a renewal and revitalization journey – a journey that we put on hold as we tried to pay attention to what was emerging for our world during the Covid-19 pandemic. While the pandemic is not over, it has entered a type of “new normal” phase. We know now that this pandemic will be with us for a while. At this time, it feels important to restart our renewal and revitalization journey, to think together about what it means to be the church during and following a pandemic.

By way of reminder, I want to highlight the steps we have taken on the renewal journey thus far:
      • February 2, 2020: Gathering regarding what it means to be the church in
        an age of anxiety.
      • February 2020: Survey and interviews
      • March 1, 2020: Gathering regarding who First United is today and what
        it means to wrestle with our sense of identity (including
        how Jacob wrestled with God.)
      • March 29, 2020: Sermon regarding seasons of wilderness and an
        invitation to prayer.
      • April 2020: Weekly invitations to prayer and to listening for how God is
        calling First United.

It appears that our society is still in a season of wilderness: Alongside the age of anxiety that we talked about in February, we are experiencing a pandemic, a collective reckoning with our nation’s history of racism, political turmoil in various parts of the world, and news of traumas related to environmental crises. The question of how God is calling our world and First United is critical. Taken together, the struggles of our society seem to be forcing us to ask the following questions:

      • In what kind of world do we want to live? What kind of world do we want
        to leave for our grandchildren? Or, said differently, what
        kind of world is God wanting to call into being?
      • What is our role as First United in helping this world to emerge?
      • What spiritual disciplines must we practice in order to be the kind of
        people that can help the world God envisions come into being?
      • What does this mean practically for First United?

Could it be that we are being called to become co-creators of the society God is seeking to call forth? What would it be like to use this pandemic moment to help shape the world that emerges from this time?

We want to think through these questions together. Our timeline for doing so, is as follows:

      • Please, take some time to review the videos you find here. They
        are recordings of the material we covered in February and
         March 2020.
      • Please review the attachments to this letter. These documents record
        the work we have already completed together.
      • On October 25, 2020, Credence will provide the sermon. Following the
        sermon, Credence will facilitate a congregational conversation.
      • Between October 25, 2020 and November 15, 2020, the congregation
        will be invited to enter of time of prayer, conversation
        and discernment regarding how First United is being called.
      • On November 15, 2020, Credence will facilitate a second
         congregational conversation.
      • The Reference Group will meet with Credence after the November
        gathering to sort through your feedback and propose a
        plan for First United.

We look forward to meeting with you!
With best wishes,

Betty Pries & Cayla Charles
Consultants Credence & Co.