An Open and Affirming Congregation
of the United Church of Christ
Sunday 9:30 AM
35 Conant Street, Beverly, MA 01915
SCC Transition - A Process of Exploration & Discernment
Fall 2021 – Spring 2022
On-going Effort – Outreach to Active & Inactive SCC Members and Friends inviting/asking for their participation in process and coming events.
Objective: To do our best to maximize participation from all slices of SCC.
Step #1 – Event: Process Overview – for whole congregation, via zoom – Early Fall 2021 (Sept. 26 Forward Chat)
Objective: To build a collective understanding with all of SCC about the planned process moving forward. (How is this time different???!!) Experiments in change?
TASK – Establish a small ‘working’ team to manage the following outlined process. Early Fall 2021 (between steps 1 & 2)
Step #2 – Sharing Our Truth about Where We Are as a Church - Mid Fall 2021 (Pick One Sharing & Listening Session - Oct.18, 24 or 26, and Forward Chat 11/7)
Objective: To share our feelings about SCC with each other as openly and honestly as possible. To help everyone feel “heard” and deepen investment in this process.
Event: Sharing & Listening Sessions – 3 Groups at 3 different times
Sharing Our Stories
Sharing Our Hopes, Dreams and Fears
Sharing Our Truths – Do you believe that SCC is coming to a major decision point? What do you believe are possible outcomes? What is “realistic” in your view?
Sharing Our Prayers and Love
Everyone will be invited to please sign up for one of the following three times, by emailing their session choice to Church Admin. Mary Jane Clerk.
Monday, Oct. 18 from 7 – 8:30
Sunday, Oct. 24 - 10:35 – 12:15
Tuesday, Oct 26 from 7 – 8:30
(If there is a clear need after first round sign ups, we may add Sat. 10/23 am.)
In addition, we have volunteers who will sit with folks one-on-one to hear their sharing and report at the Summing Up Session. We will also gladly receive written reflections from individuals who wish to submit them. All due by 26th. ALL reflections will carry the name of the person who has shared – this process is not possible if individuals are anonymous.
Event: Summing Up Session – Reporting on what we have heard from the members of the congregation – Nov. 7 - Extended Forward Chat. 10:15-noon.
Step #3 – Project: Gaining Perspective – Learning & Thinking about What it means to be “church” in our world/society/culture/area today (and moving forward).
Objective: To raise awareness among SCC folk of current state of the wider church and what cultural trends and demographics can teach us about SCC’s place & future in the world.
Event: Overview of Realities of Church in Current Culture – whole church gathering - hybrid or in person depending on conditions – (Series of Short 'Webinars' to be viewed by individuals at their convenience - Winter 2022)
Individual Work: A “Deep Dive” An guided conversation with a 20 or 30 something– What Does & Might “Church” look like for them? Basic values & priorities? Nov.- Dec. 2021
Some form of church-wide reporting/sharing findings Event: Jan. 2022
Step #4 – What Are the Possibilities for SCC? Winter 2022
Late January Event: Presentation & Discussion with Assoc. Conference Minister, Rev. Alex Shea Will - Jan. 30. 2022
Feb. 13 Event: Forward Chat - Realities and Possibilities #1
Path 1 – Renew and Reinvent – Study, Discern, Plan with goal of calling new Settled Pastor for next generation of SCC ministries. Engage w said Pastor, process & ministries.
Path 2 – Sustainably Small (or Slowly Shrinking) – Part-time Pastor, Even Smaller Structure, Stream-lined everything... Intentionally continue more or less as SCC is, with the intention and planning for being small.
Path 3 – Retire SCC
And Create a New Entity
A “Church” or “Service Organization” or “Community Org.”
Path 4 - Other?
Which paths does SCC wish to investigate?
Who will be part of ‘investigation teams’?
Step #5 – What is Our Purpose? What is SCC’s “WHY”?? What are Our Values as a Church that guide our discernment & decisions? 2022 (March Event)
Step #6 – Investigation Results: The Possibilities – What’s real? What does each particular Path or possibility look like? What does the congregation need to know to discern between and amongst options? Late Winter 2022 (April)
Step #7 – Discernment - What is God calling SCC to do next? How is God calling SCC to be and serve the world? – Early Spring 2022 (April)
SCC 2021-22 Transition Step #4 – Learning about Possibilities
We need and want to learn about what other churches are doing!
Here are links to a few examples...
SCC 2021-22 Transition Step #3 – Listening to Perspectives/Stories of Others
Have an honest conversation with a young person (preferably between 20 and 35, but as young as 16 or as old as 45 is ok). Ask them to talk about their understandings and feelings in regard to church, religion and spirituality... Take them seriously and do not make judgements about them and/or what they share with you. Keep listening. Try not to ask them questions from your perspective; you are seeking to hear their perspective. Allow them to take the conversation in the direction they see fit, as long as it is teaching you something about the way they see the world. Don’t ask them to solve the church’s problems or offer solutions. You want to learn about them. Thank them sincerely.
Please take good notes, or record your conversation and use that to write up a ‘report.’ Please be sure to ask permission to share what you have heard and check if the person wishes to remain anonymous or if you may share their first name and/or the basis of your relationship.
Why I’m asking you to talk with me...
My church means a lot to me. But the church has not been connecting with young people. The new pastor has been talking about how much the world has changed. Churches in general, and my church, haven’t been able in find ways to create opportunities for meaningful connections with people your age... Some say church is no longer relevant.
I’d like to hear what you think about this. I want to understand more about why something that has been so important to for me, is not for others...
Are you willing to help me? I’m hoping we can talk for 45 mins or so...
Basic background info: you can ask for this info before or after your conversation...
1 – What year were you born?
2 – Briefly describe any experiences you have had with “church” or religious or spiritual practices in your life?
3 – Do you identify yourself as affiliated with a particular spiritual perspective, religion or religious institution? If yes, please describe.
Conversation Guides/Questions/Topics – explore and see what sparks your person to talk and engage... Ask them to look at the questions and choose one or more as a place to start... or to look at the questions and create their own starting place. The point is to explore together and learn how they think & feel, and/or what they believe – not to simply “get answers” to the questions.
Tell me about what you believe about the role of religion/spirituality or church in our world today.
Do you have a personal philosophy or a story about how you approach life?
How do you (and/or where do your friends) think and talk about finding meaning in life?
To whom or what do you turn when you are searching for meaning, for deeper understanding or for moral guidance?
Where/how do you experience deep sharing and/or community in your life?
Do you participate in trying to make the world better for other people? How and where?
If not, how might you imagine doing so?
Can you imagine attending a spiritual/religious gathering – ever? On any regular basis? Why would you do so?
Can you imagine a role for “church” in the world today?
Follow wherever your conversation takes you, as long as it seems relevant. Your purpose is to listen and increase your understanding of this person’s perspective. Try very hard to listen to them and not to tell your own stories. Express your gratitude to the person for sharing their time and perspective.