by Pete Marvin,
chair, Bridge Team
by Pete Marvin,
chair, Bridge Team
The Policy Governance Board Transition Team has completed its work on the transition plan for moving from the traditional United Methodist Church governing structure to a nine-member policy governance board. This proposed change is subject to approval by the congregation at our Church Conference. The documents are subject to debate and amendment by the Church Conference. The Church Conference will be held on Sunday, November 19, with the Lansing District Superintendent, Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai presiding. The transition documents can be picked up at the church office or click the links below to print. You may also request a digital copy from the church administrative assistant, Kim Depew, 517-351-7030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Rev. William Bills
Chair, Faith Development Team
Faith Development Opportunities
During the coming program year we will offer a variety of opportunities for people to participate in Bible studies, discussion groups and short-term small group experiences. The dates for these events are currently in the bulletin. They will also be published on the church website and will appear in the Tower Alert in time for people to plan for them.
We will do three church-wide studies, with a corresponding sermon series. There will be one in the fall, winter and spring. Each will last five to six weeks. You are encouraged to read the book that will be provided for each study and sermon series. Additionally, we hope that you will organize into small groups with others in the church and meet together to cover the material. You may meet in someone’s home or at the church. Sign-up sheets will be available so you can join a group. You can also indicate your interest on the Connection Card. If you don’t know enough people to form a short-term small group contact Debbie in the office and she will help you.
In the fall and spring there will be five week dinner and discussions on The Gospel According to Harry Potter. You can come at 6:00 for dinner and guided discussion around your table. Invite some friends or make some new ones.
Living the Questions is a progressive study and discussion group that features 25 minute video segments by well-known progressive scholars such as Marcus Borg, Dominic Crossan and John Shelby Spong. There will be three seven week segments offered fall, winter and spring with breaks in between. Each session is independent of the others so one may attend some or all. More information can be found at www.livingthequestions.com
On Sunday mornings The Forum will continue to meet in the Copper Chimney Lounge from 9:15 to 10:15. The Covenant Bible Study will be available for Gateway Groups that are continuing to meet. Gateway Groups can also select their own material, depending on the desires of each group.
Watch for more information on additional offerings throughout the year.
by Susan Stahly
Chair, SPRC and Staffing Audit Team
The Right Staffing Configuration
Gary McIntosh, in the book Staff Your Church for Growth, emphasizes that staff in a growing church must be involved in both programming and administration. Growth comes with finding people, keeping people, and celebrating/worshiping with people. Your Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) has been tasked with addressing prescription 2A from our Vital Church Initiative (VCI) Consultation Report. We have been evaluating the current staffing configuration against UUMC’s vision, mission, and values.
Our staff is hard-working and multi-talented, and they are ready and willing to take on new responsibilities as they are assigned; so we’ve decided to focus on making adjustments to job descriptions and hours. Due to our financial resources, we will not replace the part-time clergy position most recently held by Leslee Fritz.
Supporting needs identified by task forces, enriching worship, and communication are major priority areas. SPRC will finalize current staffing decisions and continue to visit staffing needs as UUMC programming evolves.
We invite your comments and input. This year’s SPRC committee includes Marilyn Amey, Pastor Bill Bills, J. J. Burchman, Sherry Geiger, Katie Hanson, Dave Holloway, Sandy Mason, Sarah Musson, Luke Smith, Susan Stahly (chair), and Chris Waters. If you have comments or questions, you can contact Susan Stahly at <email@example.com> or Pastor Bill at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
by Sara Cardinal
Chair, Children's Ministry Team
The Children's Ministry Task Force has been investing our energy in the recommendations provided by the Cathy Townley report. The first and easiest project to implement came from page 5 in her report, where she identifies that the Gathering Space would make a very warm and welcoming space for families with young children who might not want to take them upstairs to the nursery during Worship.
In early May we had a realtor do a walk through of the space and provide specific feedback in regards to flow, staging, and the needs of young families. Then a few weeks later, our team had a work day to remove the old furniture, declutter the Gathering Space, and to install new furniture and decor per our professional recommendations. We will have 2 more seats added before the summer is out, and a screen will replace the white sandwich board that we use for Sunday School announcements.
Up next, our committee will be doing some dreaming about the children's ministry spaces. This will be a bigger and more complicated conversation, but we are excited by the possibility of positive change!
We welcome your ideas and your presence on the team. Contact me, if interested, at 517-351-7030, or email@example.com.
William C. Bills, Pastor
The Vital Church Initiative is not a magic bullet. But it (and things like it) are being undertaken in churches all over the country. There was a post-World War II church building boom in this country. Now, church attendance numbers are at all-time lows. Many congregations are simply aging out. The children of older members don’t attend church at the rates their parents and grandparents did. Older people don’t attend as much as they used to. Because decline in churches is slow, it often goes unnoticed. If nothing is done to engage new generations, more and more churches will close over the coming decades.
I haven’t heard any dramatic success stories from VCI. In many churches, it has slowed or stopped declining membership and attendance. But VCI hasn’t caused many congregations to experience rapid growth. The one proven method of growing congregations is simply to start new ones. But new churches tend to settle into habits and traditions around the 25 to 30 year mark. Then most begin a slow path of decline.
The waning influence of the Christian Church in America has made this even more pronounced. Some churches are growing dramatically. Those churches tend to be newer. They are not afraid to innovate. Churches that have been in existence longer resist innovation. But staying the same isn’t really an option for churches in this country anymore. The majority of congregations over the age of forty face two choices: innovate and develop a plan for the future or accept a slow and steady decline. Slow and steady decline usually happens over decades in churches.
David A. Roozen of the Harford Institute for Religious Research published a study entitled “American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving.” According to the study, churches that thrive today are the ones that are willing to innovate. In the study, “innovation” is just the willingness to try new things. According to Roozen, churches that try new things fare better than churches that don’t.
While the Vital Church Initiative is not a magic bullet, it does afford congregations an opportunity to consider where they want to be in ten or twenty years. Obviously some of us won’t be here in ten or twenty years. But that is not the point. The larger question is, where will our church be in ten or twenty years?
by Pete Marvin, Bridge Team, chair
University UM Church must move beyond transactional ministry with the community into relationship building with its neighbors in order to extend the heart of Christ with the community and develop a relationship with those whom the church serves. This goal has been outlined for us by our consultants in Prescription 5 and many reading materials.
In other words, we need to get to know and serve neighboring individuals, groups of individuals, and organizations. And, we need to help them know us and the God we serve. UUMC’s Bridge Team is grappling with the development of an outwardly-focused, comprehensive plan for our church’s relational outreach ministries in the community.
Our first bridge event focused on reaching out to business leaders along the Trowbridge-Harrison corridor. UUMC hosted a “get acquainted” meeting on Tuesday, July 11, so they could meet our staff and tour our facility. While getting to know them better, we told them of our interest in building relationships with our neighbors, including the Red Cedar and Ivanhoe communities. We had hoped to invite residential neighborhoods to be our guests at UUMC’s fall kickoff Sunday brunch and concert. Although this has been put on hold due to the lack of a UUMC kitchen coordinator, we are discussing a variety of ways we might build relationships with our community.
Your ideas are sought. Also, you are invited to join present Bridge Team members Rebecca Berry Jost, Janel Horrocks-Boehmer, Pete Marvin (chair), Cynthia Webb, Sue Stahl, Melissa Hogan, and JoEllyn Roe. Just let us know of your interest by calling the church office (517-351-7030) or Pete Marvin (517-331-5477).
William C. Bills, Pastor
Bishop Robert Schnase notes that “The inner world is a source of power and strength but it needs to be cultivated.” (The Five Practices of Fruitful Living, p. 84) Caring for our spirits equips us to handle life’s difficulties. It also helps us serve God and our neighbors. Having a plan for faith development insures that one never stops growing in faith.
Faith doesn’t grow only by attending services, listening to sermons, reciting prayers and singing songs. These are essential to the corporate life of the church but faith development needs to be practiced with depth and consistency outside of worship. Busy schedules make this a challenge. Disciples have to make time to grow spiritually. Disciples also benefit from the intimacy, accountability and support of friends. Intentional faith development is practiced with depth and consistency with the help of others.
In Galatians 5.22-23 we are told that the fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Growth in faith increases the fruits of the spirit in us over time. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, taught that Christians could become more Christ-like over time if they availed themselves of the power of the Holy Spirit and lived intentionally as Christians. While it is unlikely that we will ever become altogether Christ-like, having a plan for faith development will help us become more like Christ over time.
Our church recently formed a task force for intentional faith development. Please pray for that task force. They are working to develop a plan for the entire congregation. In the coming weeks and months consider and pray about your own spiritual growth. Do you have a plan for spiritual growth or does it happen in fits and starts? Can you make time to devote to nurturing your own spirit or the spirits of other people? Please consider how and why intentional faith development can become a high priority in our church and in your lives. I hope you will commit to undertake a plan intentional faith development.
Please note that the July 4 monthly meeting has been reschedule to Tuesday, July 18 in the Copper Chimney Lounge at 6:30 PM.
Our congregation read Bob Farr’s book, Ten Prescriptions for a Healthy Church, prior to the most recent pastoral change. I am not sure if Rev. Jennie Browne covered the chapter on Intentional Faith Development in her sermon series on that book. At the risk of being redundant, I would like to remind us of the importance of Intentional Faith Development for every congregation. The mission of any church will rise and fall with the strength of faith and Christian character of the congregation.
In Cultivating Fruitfulness, Bishop Robert Schnase tells us that intentional faith development refers to all other ministries and practices outside of weekly worship that help us to grow in faith. Sunday school classes, Bible studies, small groups, prayer time, and other spiritual practices help us to deepen our faith. Intentional refers to deliberate effort, purposeful action, and high priority. Those who practice intentional faith development should be able to look back over their lives of discipleship and see some kind of progress, some evidence of growth (Cultivating Fruitfulness, p. 43). Christians who fail to grow in faith often find themselves going through the motions, creatures of habit driven by the church calendar or tradition with little appreciation for mission and vision.
Lacking a plan for intentional faith development, many churches experience declining participation, leadership, and financial support. Disciples who don’t mature in faith have a hard time sharing their faith. Believing in God isn’t a guarantee that one will grow in faith. According to Bob Farr, “All this has resulted in a church full of consumers. When you have an outward form of faith but lack the inner substance of faith, you become easily upset when the leadership of the church begins to change the outward forms of that faith” (Ten Prescriptions for a Healthy Church, p. 58). If we fail to continually grow in faith, we may become attached to the outward forms of religion. We may become attached to preference and tradition. Lack of growth often equates to lack of vision.
Every church should offer a plan for intentional faith development. We currently have a task force developing one for ours. We each have to work at deepening our faith. This is something we do together. Depth of faith and commitment to discipleship are essential for churches that earnestly desire to follow Jesus and serve others. Growing disciples understand that we follow Jesus and participate in church not only for our own sake but also for the sake of those God calls us to reach and serve.
Rev. William C. Bills
by Jay Makowski
Chair, Ministry Audit Team
Prescription 1 of our Vital Church Initiative report addresses the alignment of UUMC's vision, mission and values. Item B states, “The pastor, in consultation with the coach, will recruit a Ministry Audit Team of 3-4 people by April 30, 2017, to do the following:
1. Evaluate all ministries to determine their alignment with the vision, mission and values.
2. All ministries not in alignment by December 31, 2017 will be celebrated and dissolved at that time."
Pastor Bills started this process by asking Lisa Berg, Peter Berg, W. Winston Chu and Jay Makowski to form the Ministry Audit Team. In the current process, we are asking everyone who leads a ministry group to fill out the “VCI Ministry Audit Team Initial Survey.” The survey can be found online atwww.surveymonkey.com/r/G5S6WPC. If you would rather fill out a paper copy of the survey, you may obtain one at the church office. Please return completed surveys to Jay Makowski’s church mailbox.
This survey is simply an initial assessment of all ministries at UUMC. It is not anything final or binding. Once information is gathered and reviewed, the Ministry Audit Team may do a secondary, more in-depth survey, and may meet with individual ministry groups. This will be used in evaluating ministries to determine their alignment with our vision, mission and values.
If you have questions or need help with the survey, contact Jay (firstname.lastname@example.org), Lisa (email@example.com), Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Winston (email@example.com).
by Susan Curtis
Chair, Policy Governance Task Force
Vital Church Initiative Prescription #6, “Policy Governance Model,” calls for UUMC to “adopt a policy governance model of accountability, responsibility and authority for faithful and fruitful accomplishment of shared vision, mission and values.”
The eight-member Policy Governance Task Force has been meeting every two weeks since early April to plan for transition from UUMC’s current Administrative Board to a Policy Governance Board. As part of the planning and preparation process, our task force is reading “Governance and Ministry” by Dan Hotchkiss and “Leadership and Organization for Fruitful Congregations” by Stephan W. Ross. We have reviewed transition and guideline documents from several United Methodist churches that have moved to a policy governance board model.
In the policy governance model, the current Administrative Board would be replaced with a Policy Governance Board responsible for UUMC’s goal setting, strategic planning, final budget approval, setting policies, goal adjustments and allocation of resources. This structure will allow us to move to a mission focus with decisions being guided by the mission, vision and values of UUMC.
The task force is working on: 1) developing a plan for transition to a policy governance model which will be presented at the UUMC Church Conference in the fall of 2017; 2) developing rules for the new Board; and 3) creating a slate of nominees to present for the new board at the Fall 2017 Church Conference. It must also ensure that the transition plan is in alignment with the United Methodist Book of Discipline. A vote on whether to approve the transition plan to a policy governance model will be voted on at the Fall 2017 UUMC Church Conference. If the plan is approved, the current Administrative Board will be celebrated and retired and the new Board will assume its responsibilities effective January 1, 2018.
To date, decisions for the transition plan that have been made include: The Board will consist of 9 lay members and the lead pastor and secretary. The pastor and secretary will be non-voting members. We will have 3-year terms with staggered classes of three members each. Qualifications for the Board include being an active UUMC member for at least 2 years, regular giving and demonstration of services/volunteering.
Work in process: We are developing a participant covenant and the application process which will include a letter describing the individual’s calling, spiritual gifts and desire to serve and commitment to complete leadership training in early 2018. We are also developing a formal transition plan and the relationship for SPRC, Finance and Trustees to the Policy Governance Board.
The Policy Governance Board Task Force welcomes your participation in the planning process. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact Rev. Bill Bills (firstname.lastname@example.org or 351-7030) or Susan Curtis (email@example.com) or any task force member.
Note: This report references several items discussed in our VCI Prescriptions and Cathy Townley's report to UUMC. To read the complete text of the prescriptions and recommendations, see the full version of this Policy Governance Model Prescription at: www.universitychurchhome.org/vci.
by Janel Horrocks-Boehmer
Chair, Hospitality Task Force
The Vital Church Initiative Hospitality Team would like to update you on our progress. We are actively working with Prescription 3, the Sunday morning experience at University UM Church. Prescription 3a prescribes that our church develop and implement a process to track and intentionally connect with all new persons to our congregation. Prescription 3d has to do with required training for our greeters and ushers related to providing this hospitality. Our training principles are based on materials written by experts in this field.
Our team members started in the parking lot and entered UUMC as an apprehensive, unsure “guest.” With a focus on intentional hospitality and the Sunday morning experience where each of our guests feel comfortable and valued, we evaluated the 7-minute window of opportunity that we have with each new guest from the parking lot until the worship service starts. UUMC is continually hosting new attendees with three or more groups of guests each week.
To make the gathering and garden areas more visually appealing and accommodating, we moved the Welcome desk to the side. We are incorporating a team approach of greeting which includes having greeters at the doors and stairs, connectors, ushers, persons at the Welcome desk and the pastors. Following the prescriptions and recommendations in our readings, the task force is embracing coffee and refreshments in Asbury Hall, the Gathering and Garden areas and the entire church facility. Further, our intent is to provide a warm, positive and welcoming experience for all guests.
We are designing a “connecting card” with the goal of effectively collecting information on guests and regular attendees. We are also refining a protocol for follow-through in order to maintain a connection with and provide information to guests. An event is being planned to recognize and thank all of the individuals that have served in the capacity of greeting including connectors, greeters, ushers, and welcomers. Additional required training designed around these prescriptions will be held this fall.
With both of our summer services and the new school year ahead, our real challenge is for each of us to see ourselves as instrumental in the greeting process from the parking lot to the pew. We encourage each of you (kids and adults) to sign up to greet, help with coffee and help people out of their cars. If we create a warm, welcoming, accepting and sincere environment, we will excite people to visit us again and again and allow each of our guests to develop their spirituality and realize the love of God.
The Hospitality Team welcomes your comments and particularly welcome your participation in the current work we’re doing and in the exciting planning and training ahead of us as we seek to carry out the mission of the church.
by Dan Cummings
Chair, Facilities Task Force
Editor's Note: This report references several items discussed in our VCI Prescriptions and Cathy Townley's report to UUMC. To read the complete text of the prescriptions/recommendations, see the full version of this Facilities Task Force update at: www.universitychurchhome.org/vci.
What we have done
Bulletin boards (Cathy Townley report, page 6)
The Facilities Task Force took a close look at various bulletin boards in the church building. What we noticed, upon inspection, is that most of the boards are firmly in the category of the “wild, wild west.” There doesn’t seem to be management of the boards' content; indeed, we saw many postings 1 to 2 years old. Current information is most certainly hidden in the clutter of interesting, but dated, material. Owners of bulletin boards are encouraged to prune, prune, and prune. You know better than the Facilities team which postings are important, but, if you prefer, we can bring in a gardener to help with the effort. Bulletin boards in the Wesley hallway have been relieved of all dated material. And, not surprisingly, there was nothing left. Those bulletin boards are candidates to be celebrated and retired.
What we going to do
Directional Signage – Church exterior (Cathy Townley report, page 4)
This item is in the to-be-done category. Straightforward and less than $200 to complete.
Chalk Boards (Cathy Townley report, page 6)
Several movable white boards (less mess than chalk boards) can be available for positive comments. As with the bulletin boards, content must be kept current. Expect the white boards to be cleaned after the service. Again, a simple item and inexpensive. Expect to see this completed in the next month.
Sunday Morning Experience (VCI Consultation Report, Prescription 3b)
This prescription has been the source of some dismay, particularly taking down the pastor’s pictures. Think of this as your child’s artwork on the refrigerator. As new works of art are produced, some of the previous pieces must be taken down to make room. Reducing the clutter around the new work of art allows for focus on the newest, most current offering. The point, as a church with a mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” is that the past must take a back seat to current and future mission activities. The Facilities Task Force is discussing alternate locations for those items currently on display.
Lobby and Building Navigation (Cathy Townley report, page 5)
Improved directional signage will help to improve the ability of guests to navigate to the children’s space on the second floor, find the bathroom facilities, and locate all the other important destinations in our church. We need to think like a visitor and answer their questions the best we can. This has easy implementation and low cost. Look for these improvements in the near future.
Screen Usage During Worship (Cathy Townley report, page 6)
The Facilities Task Force had the fortunate opportunity to meet with a nationally-recognized projection consultant from the east coast. Contacts are everything, and this gentleman is a childhood friend of one of our task force members. He volunteered to meet with us on his way to the airport after visiting with family. Summary of the discussion: Creating projection in our worship space is fairly straightforward. Two 10-foot wide screens and two high-definition projectors from the corners of the balcony that would provide the images. 2-3 cameras mounted to the front of the balcony with remote aiming would capture the images. The heart of the system would be mounted adjacent to the sound board. This computer-based console could also provide content to various bulletin boards throughout the church building. Estimate of the total system cost is $100,000. We will be requesting bids from several local firms for this project. The projected image would allow better visibility of the sermon, children’s time, baptisms, soloists, etc. Additional content can be projected for prior, during, and after the service. Usage will be developed by the Worship Team.
Prayer Chapel (Cathy Townley report, page 6)
How many of you are aware that UUMC has a prayer chapel? Know where it is? If you haven’t visited Tennant Chapel, feel free to visit on Sunday morning. Go straight through the door next to the pulpit and the chapel will be ahead of you. The Facility Task Force is discussing how to best implement Cathy Townley's recommendations regarding prayer chapels and where an additional chapel could be located. We do not anticipate making any changes to the existing Tennant Chapel.
Chancel Area (Cathy Townley report, pages 6 and 7)
This is a redesign process. We still need the function of a pulpit and lectern, but they can be smaller and portable. We are also considering how to make the Lord’s Table portable to increase the flexibility of the worship space. This is a tandem effort with the Worship Team. Look for updates in the near future.
Recommendations Recap (Cathy Townley report, page 10)
Cathy makes an excellent point in her recap list at the end of her report: "Count the cost for repurposing your space with screens and repositioning where kids meet (ﬁnancial, emotional and spiritual). Count the cost if you do nothing. Which will be more costly?" I admit, my initial reaction to the scope of change and the price of construction for those two actions involved only $$ signs. In terms of the cost of inaction, the cost of action is small. Look for a fundraiser in the near future.
I will be back in August for additional Facilities updates.
On Thursday, May 25th at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary the Vital Church Initiative Leadership Team and the leaders of our various task forces will be available to offer updates on what they have accomplished and what is coming up in the near term. Each task force leader will give a brief overview of their prescription and the work being done. Following that there will be a time for questions and responses.