After more than two years of research and planning, the Session approved a strategic plan in June 2015. A year into implementing the plan, a lot is happening!
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?”
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. It called for two specific initiatives:
- The Neighborhood Mission Team (NMT)1 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. The team:
- – Met with administration from both schools to understand their challenges and determine ways that we can offer support
- – Volunteered at Hope Valley Elementary’s Family Fun Fest on April 9
- – Held a Back-to-School Community Clothing Sale on September 17
- – Is continuing to explore ways to be lunch buddies, tutors, and mentors
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. We need to talk, think, and pray more about whether such a partnership would genuinely help the children of southwest Durham.
- The Funding Matrix Committee2 was formed to examine the strategy behind our Local Mission funding. It created the Local Missions Funds Allocation Procedure, which was approved by the Session in August.
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.3 Another part of this is to have members involved in at least one small group activity outside worship, so that their connections to WPC are strengthened and they are contributing to, and benefitting from, the life of the church. The Congregational Involvement Report helps us measure members’ group involvement and shows us 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.
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. There is much overlap with the next section of the strategic plan here.
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. After completing the LFFP, the committee continues to assess its work in light of it.
Attendance tracking has begun to give us a better sense of who comes to which events, and how we can get everyone connected.
There were 128 people signed up for our first All Church Retreat in October 2015 in Montreat. The event was postponed due to weather, but turned out to be a wonderful success in January 2016. Another retreat, with 85 participants, was held in Montreat September 29-October 1 of this year.
The Adult Christian Education Committee has been offering varied short-term Church School electives (Learning Spanish as Church Hospitality, Making Sense of Evolution, Technology and Your Teen) to complement our successful long-term classes (Sojourners, Bible Roundtable, The Present Word).
Wednesday evenings remain a hub of activity here. we•form kids began last year, offering an hour each week of interactive community-building, Bible stories, and music for K-5th graders. It kicked off this year on Wednesday, October 6, with 28 kids!
we•form kids is complemented by WOW: First Wednesdays, which focuses on intergenerational community. We have crafted, played, packed meals for Stop Hunger Now, sung carols by candlelight, and square danced together.
Aperture: Third Wednesdays begins Wednesday, October 19, with an adult education focus. Bishop William Willimon will discuss his newest book. In November, Chris will teach us about The Belhar Confession, which was recently added to the PC(USA) Book of Confessions.
The strategic plan called for a review of our facilities to see if we have what we need to do ministry now, and what else we need to think about moving forward.
The Facilities Review Task Force,4 with the approval and support of the Session, consulted with Robert Sotolongo of DTW Architects. Robert was responsible for the design of the wings of the Mission Center, completed in 1997.
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 extensive work, they presented a draft of a 20-year Facilities Master Plan to the Session in August. The plan attempts to think about what we need now and into the future. After a couple of Session conversations – we took extra time because new elders rotated on – they approved a process to communicate with the congregation and think about potential consultants for a capital campaign in the next few years. A team has been assembled to coordinate sessions with the congregation for you to ask questions and provide feedback. This team will bring a summary of that feedback to the Session by the end of this year.
1. Monica Nichols (chair), Carolyn Davidson, Bo Ferguson, Louise Holland, Rachel Meyen, Lee Murphy, Liz Yancy, Edwin Yarbrough
2. Bill Pogue (chair), Jean Adams, Kirk Mangum, Forrest Perry, Nancy Safrit, Kay Wellemeyer
3. See 2015 and 2016 small group directories.
4. Helen Harrison (chair), Chuck Byrd, Bill Coppridge, Pat Gunter, Dave Pottenger, Lucy Stokes, Elizabeth Takla, Chris Tuttle, Doug Wellemeyer