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  • Writer's pictureNancy Rexford

Forward Chats June 9, 2019 - Change

Today was Pentecost, and the service was about the influence of the Holy Spirit within us, both personally and as a force for change in the church. Twenty people were present at Forward Chats, where the topic was change.


What are the qualities in this church that would we want to preserve for our children and grandchildren? The idea behind the question was that we can preserve the values that are important to us, but still find new ways to express them.


  • Warmth and welcoming atmosphere especially for new folks (5-6 people dittoed this)

  • Spirit of community, a caring community

  • A church that reaches out to others unconditionally

  • Feeling of being at home

  • Growth toward being REALLY Open and affirming


  • Building in good shape, in use, light on spire, looks cared for, gives a good impression

  • If we can’t grow the congregation and keep the building, then use the building as a cultural center


  • Active Sunday School

  • A church that is still relevant, still capable of drawing people into faith and worship


  • Culture of service to others


  • Diversity of belief and theology


  • Participatory music (not just music that is listened to)

  • Music that is more varied, broad, comes from other musical and religious traditions (folk, taizé, hymns in Spanish, etc.)


Maybe we don’t need this building

  • Maybe it’s the people who are the real church – you can feel at home as long as our church family is still together

  • Maybe we’d be out doing more, being closer to the community, if we didn’t consider the building so important a part of our identity

  • If we had no building, we might meet in people’s homes, as house churches, which builds closer relationships than is possible at church

  • If the building were too much to take care of, we could sell it and rent back the Sanctuary for services

  • Note also the idea mentioned earlier that we might feel good about the building having a second life as a cultural center

  • This was a difficult conversation with a lot of silences, but people did try to engage with the concept

Need to go out and do, not just talk about our values – walk the walk

  • Gail mentioned a church that visits laundromats, hands out snacks and quarters and chats in a friendly way

  • Going out into the community seems hard because people are not sure what to do. They don’t believe in proselytizing like Jehovah’s Witnesses. So how do we live the faith outside the walls?

o Set a good example? Yes, but people asked, how? And how are others going to connect your good example with this church?

o It helps when we have leaders pushing us, the way Tara encouraged us to join the Gay Pride march, etc. But we have had only spotty leadership for quite a while. Can we make up for that with Working Teams?

Maybe we need a younger pastor

  • to attract a younger congregation – someone who shares younger people’s styles

  • Andrea said that we need to know where we want to go as a church BEFORE we try to choose a pastor

  • Dale Miller-Bouton talked about using a recruiting agency like Shepherd’s Staff - she explained how it worked – some people expressed concern that they might send us candidates that are too conservative (they’re in Texas)

  • We will want to know where the candidates have been trained

  • Essex UU had an entire weekend of social events to get to know proposed pastor, not just a sermon and then a vote


June 16 – we will not meet because of Fred’s send-off party

June 23 – discussion of where we’d like to see the church go in the sh

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