Greetings Beloved and Happy Independence Day. By now you have probably heard of the “Unmasking” process that Jim Wallace and Karen Palmer are presenting to the church family. This is something the Board has been working on with Jim and Karen for some time. It is designed to accomplish three things. The first goal of this program is to determine who we now are. As everyone is well aware, the pandemic has exacerbated the attendance issue. We need to find out who is going to come back and who is not. The second goal is to determine what we feel God is calling us to be and do in this new environment. It may well be the same thing we were doing, or it may be something new, but either way we need to tap into the community wisdom and find out what God is saying to us. The third goal is to find out how we can best match the answer to goal number one (who we are), with goal number two (what is God calling us to do). While it isn’t hard to articulate the idea, the implementation of that is going to take a tremendous amount of energy. I am very grateful to Jim and Karen for taking on this herculean task.
My prediction is that we will find we are about half the size congregation we were before the pandemic. If that is correct, then in my opinion, there are two choices—one is to adjust our missions, outreach, staff and facility to match our new definition. The second option is to commit to growing the congregation to a specific size within a specific time frame. Either option is, in my opinion, possible with the right attitude, effort and energy.
That brings me to my last point. I do think it is going to be vital to the welfare and health of the church to have a person leading the congregation that has the education, attitude, desire and energy to accomplish the goals that FCC will define. To be candid, I think it will take a person younger than I. When it comes to this discussion, my first and primary intention is for FCC to thrive by assisting in facilitating whatever changes are necessary for us to accomplish our goals.
To that end, I have an offer and suggestion. I know funding a new, younger pastor is expensive, so beginning in January 2023, I am willing to forego my salary and begin drawing my DOC retirement. When the church identifies a candidate and makes an offer, the church can apply that to a new hire’s salary. It probably won’t cover it but certainly can make up a big part of the expense. In order for me to do that, when I give up my salary, I am required by the pension fund to move to part time but that shouldn’t be a problem considering the fact that we would be bringing on a new person. This would also allow for an orderly transition of leadership not encumbered by a timeline, allowing the congregation to get to know the new person and them to know us.
Whatever we do, the welfare of the church must come first, so everything must be filtered through that lens. We have a lot of things to consider and accomplish that will take some time. You need to know all the pieces of this puzzle before you can begin to assemble it. For example, if the budget is going to significantly change due to a salary increase for a new person, you need to know that before you begin to review budget, etc. Before a new person can be hired, a search committee must be formed and before a search committee can be formed the unmasking program has to be completed so we know who we now are and where we want to go and what we have to work with.
There is a lot of information to be gathered and decisions to be made and that is the reason I am sharing this with you now. As Jim and Karen said, there are two ways to enter the future, by letting things just happen or by managing them. The first way is fraught with problems, the second with opportunities. Obviously, these ideas are first thoughts and most likely will continue to evolve but one thing is paramount and that is that we continue to be Christ’s beacon on the hill. Let’s create a bright and fruitful future for FCC so we can continue to share the good news of Jesus, the Christ.