If you attended one of the Sacred Circles this summer you’ve heard our consultant Anna Tansi talk about moving from an ending (a particular change) toward a new beginning (the hoped-for future). Anna defines this time between the ending and the new beginning as “the neutral time.” For some, this time is marked by anxiety, a yearning for certainty and stability, or a desire to “simply get on with things.”
There is often a desire to move through this period of neutral time as quickly as possible, if not skipping over it altogether. And there is the notion that it is a time of inactivity.
A biblical example of the neutral time is the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering in the desert. The time when God’s people won their liberation from slavery and exited Egypt was a change. Crossing the Red Sea was an event that signaled things would be different for their community going forward. Yet, the hoped-for future, the Promised Land, was not an immediate reality.
For 40 years, Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness, and it wasn’t easy. In fact, God’s people were extremely uncomfortable, and Moses did a whole lot of hand wringing. However, the years spent in the desert were vital and necessary to prepare the Israelites for their future. Wandering wasn’t a passive time, rather it was full of lessons and reflections and growth.
It is our hope that as a community of faith we will use our transition time wisely, learning how to intentionally “wander” together – having the difficult conversations, taking in the lessons, reflecting and growing together, so that we can be ready for the future. It’s not always comfortable, and that’s why we do it together.
Stepping into the Future
We are calling this neutral time, “Stepping into the Future.” The bulletin board pictured above is the hallway between Drew Hall and the front office. Check in there for reflections, and ways in which we can all participate in the process. As well, there will be monthly updates about our journey in the HCN, as well as the Thursday email with messages between monthly HCN publications.
If you do not currently receive the weekly email but would like to, please click on the envelope icon at the bottom of any page of our website, ahcc.org to sign up.
So what are the Stepping Stones we are using to move forward? Great question!
Step 1: Sacred Circles, which have taken place this summer, have engaged about 200 church members. These conversations are about rebuilding an atmosphere of open, honest conversation. If you have not had the opportunity to attend one of these Sacred Circles, please register for the final one on Monday, September 11, at 6:30 pm in Twichell. Please sign up on Sundays or by contacting Mary Way at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.525.5696. Childcare is available and sign up is required.
Step 2: Café Conversations, which are currently being planned, will build upon the open-heartedness restored in our Sacred Conversations. These will be held throughout the fall and early winter 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. These are a few of the topics we believe really matter.
Step 3: Vision Gathering, which will take place sometime in later winter/early spring, 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.
As you can see, this neutral time is a time of great opportunity for engagement, and we hope that you will take every opportunity to participate in shaping our church’s future together.
Let us all be a part of Stepping into the Future.
In faith, hope, and love,
Holly, Bart, John, and Erica
Note: Anna Tansi is the principal of Counterbalance Consulting, LLC, specializing in the work of organizational and leadership effectiveness for a range of clients encompassing faith-based, corporate, and non-profit organizations. Anna began working with AHCC leadership in May 2017.