At the Church Council meeting of April 10, our pastor, the Rev. Nancy DeStefano, shared the good news that the Bishop and Cabinet of the North Texas Conference have approved our proposal to use some of the proceeds from the parsonage sale for new development. Three projects, based on the "prescriptions" from last year's Small Church Initiative study, are being considered.
Here's how Pastor Nancy described the process and the projects in an email to the congregation:
"As you are aware our church entered into a three phase process of church renewal and revival called the Small Church Initiative (SCI) in early 2014.
"The first phase was a six-month training experience for seven of our members. This was followed by an in-depth self study of our church and an evaluation by Conference representatives in phase two which resulted in three prescriptions being offered to us. We voted in an all church meeting to accept these three prescriptions and to implement them.
"Phase three is the process of working through these prescriptions and the new ideas that they generate. We have made great progress in all three areas and we continue to pursue the implementation of the results they are yielding. We are still in phase 3 as it is ongoing and unfolding every day.
The excitement of the SCI goes beyond the prescriptions themselves to the new ideas and creative energies that have been generated. One example of this is the moving of Sunday school classrooms to enhance our children's ministry. While not prescribed by SCI this decision grew from the self study and our workshops together.
"One of the steps given by the SCI prescriptions was for me as your pastor to develop a vision and goals for St Stephen for 2016. I did so and this vision was received at our 2015 church conference in November of last year. [These three growth areas are]:
- Our children's ministry is important to us and our numbers of children are growing. Just as we cherish our music and worship and so employ qualified gifted people to bring excellence to this area of our life together, SCI made us aware that we need to do the same for our children.
- Building on our strength in the area of worship and listening to our young adult members, we recognize that we are called to bring the best of technology to our worship experience. This led to the request for projection capabilities that are up-to-date and blended with our existing worship.
- SCI instructed us to revisit our vision and mission, which we have done. SCI also challenges us to find new and creative ways to get our unique message out to the world and to identify people and places that are aligned with that message. We are working on this in several ways - enhancing our website, seeking to expand our presence on social media, developing an app for smart phones, and looking for events and projects in our area with which we can become involved."
An information session will be held after worship on Sunday, April 24. At this time, church leaders will explain more about each project.
An All-Church Conference will be held after worship on Sunday, May 1 to vote formally on the proposed budgets for these projects. A vote to approve spending money in this way is required by the Book of Discipline, our United Methodist collection of laws.
These are exciting times for St. Stephen Church. We invite everyone to be part of our new growth!