As the seasons change and fall wraps around the city like a colorful quilt, I turn my mind and my heart to giving thanks.  One of the fundamental aspects of any healthy visioning process should be gratitude, and I am deeply and humbly grateful for so many things within, around, and beyond this rich, diverse, and vibrant community of faith.

As we look at and consider the demographic information we have about the neighborhood and the statistical information we have about participants in our church, I give thanks for the significant diversity of both.  I also take enormous joy in watching the “wheels turn” in the minds of our New Visioning Team as they try to make sense of the data of our community and then to extrapolate what this information means for the future ministry and mission of our church.  It’s fascinating and thrilling to see our folks have “aha!” moments

future-vision        As we have asked each Team and Board and Program related to our church to offer their own self-assessment, I give thanks for the multitude of ways this congregation serves those who come through its doors, and the neighborhood as a whole.  Each form we sent out asks leaders what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats/challenges, and unique mission of that group, I am thankful that we are strong enough of a church to both celebrate our strengths and admit our weaknesses.  It is a flimsy and precarious church that pretends everything is hunky-dorey and there are no areas that need improvement.  These self-assessments will be followed up with personal conversations with the leaders, to help all parts of the congregation envision what needs to be left behind as we journey forward, what needs to go with us, and what needs to be embraced anew.

As we have stretched out into the community and interviewed “community stakeholders,” those who have an investment in the Near West Side and want its residents, businesses, and organizations to thrive, I have been humbled and thrilled to hear how Franklin Circle Christian Church is understood as a force for good in this community.  From our vocal celebration and inclusion of the wonderful diversity of God’s people, to the awe of our long history and beautiful facilities, to the overwhelming support of our congregation’s commitment to healthy, safe, and engaging dialogue over issues of importance to neigborhood residents, this church is seen as a healthy and valuable partner in the revitalization of the neighborhood.  For this I am immensely grateful!

Finally, I give thanks in anticipation of the many congregational questionnaires that we will receive back, either in the mail or via the internet, letting us know about your vision for the future of this great church.  Such surveys are always a bit dicey in that they often are designed as more of a “whine and complain form,” but the New Visioning Team has worked hard to make this one focused more on the future and what you feel God is calling us to be and do and strive for in the great future God has for Franklin Circle Christian Church.  I am especially thankful for the hard and intentional work the Team has put into carefully thinking through the questions as well as in getting the mailing/online survey in place!

So, as the holiday for giving thanks arrives, I am grateful for the vision that is emerging – from the community around us, from those that gather weekly, and from the broad diaspora of FC3 folks out in the world – and am equally excited about what God has in store for us in the coming years.

 

God’s Grace Is Abundant,

Pastor Allen

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