Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; let the rough ground become a plain, the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the Lord will be revealed. - Isaiah 40:3-5
AHCC's journey of transition to a settled senior minister began with the Diaconate Leadership Retreat in June 2017, engaging 35 lay leaders and staff members, along with consultant, Anna Tansi, of Counterbalance Consulting. The group was led through sharing of concerns about where we are now as well as our hopes and dreams for AHCC's future. We learned deeper listening skills, enabling us to better understand other points of view, and we committed the Diaconate to a process of engagement with the congregation.
We learned that there are three phases of transition: a time of letting go, when we decide what we will leave behind and what we will keep; an uncomfortable neutral time in which old behaviors and attitudes subside, making room for what is to come; and finally, the emergence of a renewed sense of purpose, new understandings and a new identity. You may find yourself asking, "Are we there yet?" but the time of transition, to be an effective and successful process, can not be rushed.
Stepping into the Future
We are calling this neutral time “Stepping into the Future,” and have identified five steps in the process.
Step 1: Sacred Circles, took place in the summer/early fall 2017. These conversations were about rebuilding an atmosphere of open, honest conversation.
Step 2: Café Conversations will build upon the open-heartedness restored in our Sacred Conversations. These will be held in late fall and early winter 2017 and can be best described as conversations about “things that matter.” Examples include: the creation of a culture of respect and gratitude for all of God’s people, church governance, our church’s relationship with our denomination, the United Church of Christ, growing the church, racism and its effects, the mandate to “do justice” and what that looks like for us.
Step 3: Vision Gathering, which will take place sometime in later winter/early spring 2018, will be an all-church, congregational event during which we will celebrate the common vision for the future of our church which has emerged from our work together during the fall.
Step 4: Completion of the Church Profile where we discern who we are now, and who is God calling us to become; and formation of the Senior Minister Search Committee. The congregation will be asked to vote upon the members of the search committee.
Step 5: Calling a settled senior minister to AHCC. The congregation will be asked to vote upon the candidate selected by the Search Committee.