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Pastor’s Ponderings – What’s Next?

So we did it (!). We took another step and weighed in on how we prefer next steps to go in responding to the proposal from Prestige Development to purchase land for affordable senior housing. It was clear that we are to enter a new phase of gathering input, through the 50% of you responded openness to or desire for more information around “all the options”, and 15% more choosing other ways forward–whether through discernment or allowing the next proposed step to move forward in process with Prestige. What is not as clear is how you envision participating in what comes next, or what needs to be included under “open to all the options for land stewardship”? What is your willingness to research a land stewardship option to then put alongside other options and it feels to y’all that a better informed choice is possible. And what is your level of commitment to participate in exploration of what it means to be of God and for God as a congregation? The answers to these questions will become evident through how you participate in these next steps.

Remember when I said that whatever way the vote went, it would only be a step in the work we need to do? Yup, that’s right — and I wasn’t kidding! Comfortable to consider or not, we still have much to figure out about our purpose as a congregation, how we are going to live into that purpose on the next phase of our congregational journey, and identify the resourcing steps needed to move forward. That being said, there is no need for us to map out a fully detailed five or ten year plan when our world keeps changing. We just need to identify potential next steps to move us along so we might discover what’s next around the bend after that.

Though I more typically consider imagery of traveling a road on a journey, you might also think of it like this: imagine we are in the middle of a pond, standing on a rock, knowing there are other rocks we could step on scattered between us and the shore, but a dense fog has rolled in and we can’t even see one other rock. We peer through the thick mist and begin to make out the shape of another rock we can move on to, trying to slowly get closer to the safer seeming shore, and …. (this imagery is thanks to the coach leading a coaching/class I am participating in for a few weeks)

To continue forward, we don’t have to have everything figured out, but we do need to “soften our gaze,” so to speak (i.e., challenge our own assumptions and expectations grounded in former realities) so that we may see and become open to previously unconsidered possibilities.

Now back to your expressed desire to learn more about options. To move forward the consideration of “all” other options, we need to form a diverse team of “researchers'' who will split up the work of collecting information/facts on various options, maybe working in dyads or triads. And then by a certain date, yet to be determined by Council, have teams share with the rest of us what they found. I can envision the teams sharing about the option they researched through storyboard visual presentations or providing creative presentations “on mic” to make the case for their option. Getting as many detailed options detailed for consideration, so that when a vote forward in action is made, people feel informed enough to experience greater confidence about what best fits who we are as a congregation and how we perceive God wants us to show up in the world now, in 2023 and beyond.

And let’s not ignore the fact that a significant number of people, 32%, voted to not move forward with consideration of any changes to our current land use. What are those of you who chose this option envisioning as BSLC’s way forward in ministry and mission at this stage of its life? What is your level of commitment for shaping and participating in the work required if we are to revitalize our ministry? And how do we, as a fuller community of faith, take this into consideration with whatever we do?

So: I ask again, what are you thinking now? What possibility for land stewardship do you want to have explored? How committed are you to the work of being in this community of researching an option? What does “land stewardship” mean to you—or do we actually need to begin by exploring the meanings that concept holds? Share your ideas and questions with the council (which includes me!) and as your leadership team, we’ll work on shaping a way forward.

With you on this journey of discovery, Pastor Jean

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