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  • Writer's pictureNancy Rexford

Forward Chats #10 - June 23, 2019


Nineteen people attended this forward chat. Elsie had suggested that we might need to discuss how people are feeling after the stress leading up to Fred’s departure (his final Sunday being June 16), but I confess I can’t remember the exact question that provoked such a wide array of answers. Apologies! I left for England a few hours after this meeting, and by the time I got back the mental detail had disappeared.

Whatever the question may have been, we started by going around the circle to get everyone to speak, but side-comments erupted from time to time. The following documents people’s comments. Speakers are identified by their initials in the interest of privacy on the internet.

PM Welcoming, keep worship side strong, as well as missions

CT Communication: listening, not just talking; reading

· LS Active listening from the heart, without judgment, not just hearing; Yes, And

· RM Also truthful - take time to find the true facts instead of jumping to conclusions based on rumors

· WL Sometimes we don't know the whole truth - and it's not ours to know. Be compassionate, consider what people are dealing with (personally)

GJ When a pastor leaves, we should each ask what we can do to pick up the dropped work

PM Invite others

EJ Speaking directly takes care - there's a tension between truth and hurting others' feelings

DB Fred as a catalyst for change - we talk and talk without moving forward; we need actual change

WL Be bold - risk doing something different

GP There are goodhearted people here - there is something open and loving and positive

GM How are we going to treat our new interim pastor?

NK There is a lot of "parallel play" here (we work/play beside each other but not actually with each other); we talk the talk but don't walk the walk. Clarification from a later email: “As a church, we fully supported Family Promise as a mission, but it is always the same people who volunteer to cook, host, and sleep. It is not a mission that the "church" supports when it comes to taking action. There have been times in which we have had to seek out other volunteers from other churches because there are not enough people form 2nd church to fill all the slots. As an example, I made 4 dinners and SM made 3 dinners when we hosted 2 consecutive weeks because no one signed up.”

· LS We go forward but at the last minute step back from the brink of change. We have to be God out in the world. We're stuck on bringing people to us, not going out.

· DK You need it all! The inside too, not just the outward;

· LS Talk to First Baptist Beverly and to Wenham UCC - what is working there?

· NK Mike Duda walks the walk and takes the congregation with him.

· AT Like a social service agency, not mentioning God?

PB Supportive yet conflicted about things said so far. People didn't try to be unkind to Fred. Agreed with Donna, but also need to be a presence in the world. We need a good shepherd, a wise leader

MJC Agreed, we need a shepherd.

JB Is listening from point of view of being on interim committee

AT Less is more. Too much talk is mind-numbing, and nothing gets done

DK When issues arise, it is important to nip them in the bud. Example when she had an issue with Fred: if she hadn't talked to him, it would have festered. But instead, in talking, a connection was forged between them.

· RM It doesn't always work that way. The new pastor needs to be truthful, about their health, for example. Regarding the exit interview/evaluation, Fred didn't say why he wasn't the right fit.

· PJ We got off on the wrong foot with Fred, and Fred didn't accept apology (?). She wants to find out more about this church. Keep working so there is no real estate sign.

CT Three ideas: (1) What about a feedback questionnaire - what was most meaningful about the service? (2) We need a view of the future we want, and then work backward. (3) What constituencies do we reach outside of church that we can talk to about church?

NK We also want the new pastor to talk about the outside work they are involved with

CT Brag about victories and create something people want to be part of

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