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Strategy Sessions and Goals, Part 2

Last week I wrote a bit about the church strategy sessions held earlier in the year. Today I am writing about the goals that were proposed as a result of those sessions. I say proposed goals because because they do not become designated goals until the strategy group presents them to the congregation and listens to the congregational feedback. In this step we will be looking to determine what the will of the people of the church is. It is for all of us TOGETHER to discuss and then move ahead with what the majority of the people decide is the correct course. This work cannot succeed unless the majority of the people believe in it and are behind it.

The Bishop’s Committee is still working to define and refine the proposed goals. In August we will present to the congregation our proposed goals in detail with proposed action steps and names of people responsible for accomplishing them. What I am presenting here is just an outline – just an appetizer to get you interested in hearing more.

In choosing these goals, our focus was to build upon what we do well, and also to strengthen our weaknesses so that St. Stephen’s becomes the best that it can be. The proposed goals can be divided into three categories: work that has already begun, primary goals (need to accomplish sooner rather than later) and secondary goals.

Work that is already in process

* Schedule a presentation of the strategy work and resulting proposed goals to congregation AND LISTEN TO THEIR INPUT

* Property improvements – most visible by the congregation at this point in time

* Structure and organize an Outreach Team

* Create a financial sustainability plan

Primary goals

* Increase ASA (Average Sunday Attendance) by 20% from May of 2017 to May of 2018. Our average attendance in May of 2017 was 83, so that means we are reaching for an average of 100 people in church (sum of attendance at both services) every Sunday by May of 2018.

* Have in place a complete Christian formation program for all ages for fall of 2017

* Establish a process of welcome, assimilation and involvement of new people

* Define and communicate membership and membership process for St. Stephen’s

* Deepen the integration of the Nursery School as a ministry of the church

* Examine the staffing structure for our church. The old model of full time rector with support staff is not financially possible at this point in time, so what combination of people and responsibilities will enable us to be successful?

Secondary goals

* Improve communication, particularly our web presence

* Examine and communicate the characteristics of a healthy church

This is not an exhaustive list. We certainly named many other worthy goals as we held our discussions. This list is our attempt to be realistic in what we can accomplish, needing to hold some other items for future work.

If you have any questions or comments about these proposed goals, our process in establishing them, or any other aspect of life at St. Stephen’s, please do not hesitate to talk to any member of the Bishop’s Committee. We welcome your feedback and your questions.

Cindy Willis, Bishop’s Warden

Thoughts on Strategic Planning from the Bishop’s Warden

In reflecting on our most recent strategic planning sessions, it is easy to see the hand of God at work guiding our discussions and deliberations. For this planning team, Fr. Al assembled a diverse group of people. The 15 people represented a range of ages, backgrounds, experiences, gifts and talents. Some folks had been Episcopalian for many years, some for only a short time. Some had lived in NW Pa their entire lives, some moved here from other parts of the country. All of these unique individuals came together wanting to answer only one question: how do we make St. Stephen’s, Fairview the best that it can be?

We began each of our four sessions with worship, including a Bible passage chosen to focus us on that morning’s discussion topic. During our discussions there were serious times, and there were times of laughter. No one came with a personal agenda, and all ideas and thoughts were considered and respected. Of course there were also plenty of yummy snacks.

First we took a walk through the parish history, which gave us a shared knowledge and understanding of what has happened in the past and how we got to where we are today. From there we discussed what we do well, and what areas need improvement. Those were mighty long lists!

As much as we wanted to, we knew that we could not do everything immediately, and so we had the tough decision of where to focus our attention first. What will help us the most to do God’s work in our part of the world – help us to welcome in and minister to God’s people? Eventually we decided on a group of goals including, but not limited to, new member welcome and incorporation, care and formation of members of all ages, financial stability, and the maintenance and repair of our property.

I will write in more detail about the goals in the next Voice of Vision article. In the meantime I invite and encourage you to talk to, and ask questions of, the Strategic Planning group: Don Inderlied, MJ Radock, Dorene Sommers, Brian Biggs, Dave Vogt, Steve Ropski, Susan Schuette, Jim Steele, John Rushe, Kristy Snyder, Missy Greene, Claire Wachter, and Megin Sewak.

Cindy Willis, Bishop’s Warden

Summer Ministries

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,

What do critical ministries look like for the summer?  Most Sundays our priest will be Fr. Denny.  I’ll take two Sundays; one in July and one in August.  We will have Morning Prayer on June 25.  Pastoral care will be administered through the church office and managed by our Bishop’s Warden, Cindy Willis.  Claire Wachter and Megin Sewak will combine on the administrative work.  Missy Greene will manage the Alms Fund and Sunday sitter.  Our fantastic Office Angels will continue their essential ministry.  The Gregory’s will count the money.  All will be well.

The Bishop’s Committee will meet the last Tuesday of all three months as usual; the staff will meet once a month led by Claire.  During the time Cindy and I are both out of the country, Brian Biggs and Claire Wachter will have ecclesiastical authority pending the Bishop’s approval. Sunday worship will continue as will other events generally scheduled for the summer including only one service at 8 AM on Father’s Day, Waldameer Day for the Diocese on Father’s Day as well, Diocesan camp, vacation bible school, nursery school camps, God’s Garden, general property projects, and other ways that life intervenes in life.

I will be in touch with Cindy and Claire on a weekly basis.  Again, I’ll also be in town for a few days at the end of July and August tied to Sundays and Bishop’s Committee Meetings.   Gifted leaders and committed members comprise the strength of St. Stephen’s.  There is no doubt in my mind that the summer will be rich and we will all discover new places God wishes for us to explore.  Thank you.

Love and Blessings,




1070 Dutch Road, Fairview, PA 16415 * 814.474.5490