— The Rev. Erin Houglan, Pathways to Vitality Deacon
These core values were determined by a group of 15 lay leaders and Good Samaritan’s staff. This was a collaborative process of transparency and openness. After the Core Values were determined, the group brought them back to the wider congregation to discuss. The following are what the Good Samaritan community has determined to be its Core Values.
Good Samaritan Episcopal Church is...
-A Church That Serves
-Eager to Grow Spiritually
-Generous and Grateful
-A Church Outside the Box
Design of Cottage Conversations
To do this, we created a collaborative process and asked our lay leaders to lead and facilitate the Cottage Conversations. By designing a group discernment program with the values of transparency and collaboration we have, we hope, created a process that is open for dreams, critical thinking, concerns and hope.
We have focused our Cottage Conversations by looking at these five points.
- Story: how did we came to be in this particular place with this particular mission? And further, how we can own this mission as a community moving forward?
- Sustainability: we can only exist with the leadership of the laity and this work can only happen with the investment of time and resources from the laity.
- Finances: We are living on grants and soon we will need to be self-sufficient. If we are passionate about our mission and our faith, what will it take, financially, to keep it going? And further, where do we want to be in the next three to five years? What financial resources will it take to get there?
- Constructive Criticism: We need clear and honest conversations about what we are doing, and what we could be doing better. While looking at our core values, we are grading ourselves (on a scale from 0=we don’t do it well, to 10=we do this very well) and articulating how we could do better.
- Vision-Casting/Dreaming: We are dreaming together and casting visions of our future into our discernment conversations and seeing what might take root and grow. We are being fearless and courageous in this process.
The next stage of this discernment process will be to bring original group of 15 lay leaders back together and asking them to look at all the data that was collected over the past month in these Cottage Conversations. We hope that the threads of a clear vision for Good Samaritan’s future will emerge and that our lay leaders will be able to compose a plan for the future of our faith community as well as the financial needs to make that future possible.
This process is unique to the specific context of Good Samaritan Church. This discernment process will look different from parish to parish. But I believe the values of transparency, collaboration and openness are the values every congregation should embrace when undertaking the difficult work of community discernment and mission development.
Many congregations today are searching for answers and rethinking their missions. No matter if the congregation is struggling financially to keep its doors open or enjoys the safety-nets of endowments and balanced budgets, it will benefit greatly by incorporating these values into its culture. I believe these values are the bedrock of sustainable faith communities.