After more than two years of research and planning, the Session approved a strategic plan in June 2015. We are now two years into implementation. Building on the strategic plan update provided in the October 19, 2016 newsletter, this update aims to give an assessment of where we are now.

The plan is divided into three sections, echoing Micah 6:8, “…and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and walk humbly with your God?”

Do Justice
This section of the strategic plan encourages us to think about how to build on our historic commitment to mission in Durham and around the world.

The Neighborhood Mission Team (NMT) was formed as a subcommittee of the Local Missions Committee with the goal of identifying ways to 1) support Hope Valley Elementary and Githens Middle School and 2) be more involved with our neighbors. Since October, the team has:

  • Taken collections for Hope Valley Elementary and Githens students: food items and school supplies (July 2016), sweatshirts (November 2016), hats/gloves/tissues/wipes (January 2017), school supplies (April 2017)
  • Held a Community Workday on April 22, with over 80 volunteers on WPC’s campus, visiting church members, and working at Hope Valley Elementary and Githens Middle. They hope to transition this to a “blue jean” Sunday next year, for which members wear work clothes to worship and then head out to various worksites.
  • Requested box top donations to help subsidize the cost of attending the spring festival for Hope Valley Elementary families and requested volunteers to be test proctors for Hope Valley and Githens

There is a significant need for afterschool care in our neighborhood and conversations have continued with the YMCA about a partnership to address this need. Church staff met with Local Missions and NMT chairs in February 2016, and determined that, right now, the organizations aren’t aligned quite right for a partnership to be mutually beneficial. WPC isn’t in a position to support it financially in the ways that would be needed, and it would not benefit the Y or the children of the neighborhood to bus children here since the Y has a number of locations nearby. Future expansion of a Y program to Hope Valley Elementary might provide the best opportunity for partnership.

Local Missions Committee Chair Forrest Perry will visit the Session soon to reflect on the process of the Local Missions Funds Allocation Procedure, which was created to examine the strategy behind our Local Mission funding.

Our partnership with La Nueva Jerusalén continues to grow. We invited the Rev. Alfredo Miranda to speak at Aperture: Third Wednesdays on February 15, and they invited us to worship and dinner on Saturday, April 1. Forty-two of our members RSVP’d for that dinner. La Nueva members assisted in painting the Fellowship Hall on April 22, and attended WOW: First Wednesdays on May 3. We will worship together at WPC on August 6 (see page 1).

Love Kindness
This section of the strategic plan encourages us to be better coordinated and thorough in connecting our members to each other. Part of this goal is to be even more intentional and clear about opportunities to connect, especially around Rally Day.

Another part of this is to have members involved in at least one small group activity outside of worship, so that their connections to WPC are strengthened and they are contributing to, and benefiting from, the life of the church. We have developed a Congregational Involvement Report to help measure members’ group involvement and show where we may have gaps in our offerings.

Westminster on Wednesdays is an important part of this effort. Committees have settled into their Wednesday meeting nights, and the Fellowship Committee has successfully coordinated meals for each of those evenings. Please find someone on the Fellowship Committee and thank them! We have struggled some with meal attendance away from larger events, especially on nights when only committees meet.

Pop-up Supper Clubs and one-time or short-term events have helped us think about new ways for people – with peers and intergenerationally – to make meaningful connections, whether just in fellowship or as part of Christian education or mission. We’ve not had much success here, but Fellowship keeps working hard!

The Assimilation Committee changed when they ask for Time & Talent pledges from October (in conjunction with the stewardship campaign) to August in 2016. This provided good space for conversation but little change in pledges submitted. Assimilation continues to discuss how to best use Time & Talent. Chris will meet with the committee after each Inquirers’ Class to talk through each new member and see who might best connect them with opportunities to share their gifts.

Walk Humbly
Most of the work of this section of the strategic plan falls under the Christian Education Committee, and involves the creation of a Lifelong Faith Formation Plan (LFFP) that outlines goals and educational stages for each age group. Here are a few things going on in this area:

Vacation Church School transitioned from being a daytime camp at Camp New Hope, to something intergenerational at WPC from June 13-15, 5:30-7:30pm.

The Christian Education Committee has developed a three-year Confirmation preparation curriculum for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade beginning in the fall of 2017. During Church School, the 5th grade class will do a survey of the Old Testament, while the 6th grade class surveys the New Testament. The 7th graders will study Spiritual Practices.

The CE Committee will review and evaluate the following programs in January 2018:

  • 3rd Graders – Receiving Bibles (January 7, 2018)
  • 3rd Graders – “Learning My Bible” (February, Saturday morning)
  • 2-4th Graders – Sacraments class (January, Saturday morning)
  • 5-6th Graders – Church School, Bible Survey
  • 7th Graders – Church School, Spiritual Practices

This is the third year of the Child & Youth Protection Policy’s implementation, so it’s time to retrain volunteers.

Another All Church Retreat is being planned for the end of February 9-11, 2018.

Facilities Review
With the approval and support of the Session, the Facilities Review Task Force consulted with Robert Sotolongo of DTW Architects. The task force talked with groups and committees throughout the church, and heard about what folks needed, as well as problems with our present facility. They filtered this information in light of the strategic plan, trying to think about both who we are and who we believe God is calling us to be.

After that, a Facilities Review Communication Team held six gatherings to receive feedback on the Facilities Master Plan developed by DTW Architects. Helen Harrison compiled that information and contacted Robert Sotolongo with the following feedback from the congregation:

Facilities Master Plan Re-work Requests

  • Glass box entrance didn’t grab members. How might that entrance be re-worked to be more integrated with existing architecture, but be better than the current “cave”? Then entrance should include a covered entry all the way from a car exit.
  • The back parking lot entrance to the new space is not a very obvious, welcoming entry. How could the back entry be improved to look more like a main entrance?
  • We missed the mark on the Memorial Garden. Stakeholders did not like that it was so open to all the surrounding buildings. A visit to the Memorial Garden should be private and contemplative. How could this be accomplished while still building around the space?
  • Is there a way to put the multi-purpose building behind the Mission Center? What compromises would need to be made to do this? Is it possible to put an additional large classroom next to this building rather than by the back parking lot? Alternatively, is there an option where the classroom by the back parking lot might be done as a phased addition?
  • An early version of the plan included a covered patio area beside the current Fellowship Hall instead of enclosing the space and adding two classrooms. Could we revisit this idea as an option?

The Session approved a contract with Tom Norwood of Horizons Stewardship to work with us in the fall on the stewardship campaign and a a feasibility study for a potential upcoming capital campaign.