On January 23, 2021, a small group of church council members (three from Camp Hill UMC and three from Grace UMC) met with Gary Shockley, our conference office’s Director of Equipping Vital Congregations, as well as Pastors Kathy, Anna, and Jason. The 5-Hour Vision Day was focused on discerning if there is a viable path to partnering in ministry together on the West Shore. We offer this as a summary document of the day as well as recommendations for next steps.
Our day began by centering on passages of scripture in which Jesus calls us to “come”. We contrasted those with instances where Jesus tells us to ‘go”. As we seek life-fulfilling experiences we come to Jesus. Once we have been taught, we go (to share what we’ve learned). Our first task of the day was to discern the “why” of the partnership. We broke up into three groups and studied scripture together. Each group came up with a “why” statement, based on their assigned scripture. When we gathered back as a group, we formed a combined “why” statement:
We exist to love God and are empowered by Jesus’ love and authority, as we are drawing near to others in meaningful relationships, embracing tangible opportunities to serve, and sharing God’s great news with the world so that strangers become family.
Following our “why statement” discussion, we discussed the Mission Insite analysis that was provided by the conference. The data covered a 1-mile radius around the Calvary UMC building in Lemoyne. As we studied the data, we realized that this was not the ONLY way we were going to learn about our community. We must do some “second level” demographic research (more to follow). We did, however, come to a consensus that due to the transient nature of the community, the statistics stating that over 60 percent of people in the area did not have any connection at all to a faith community, and the idea that there are 100+ people scheduled to move into the apartment complex immediately across the street from the Calvary Church building, that this area would seem “ripe” for embracing relational ministries.
As the day progressed, we shared multiple ideas regarding what we could do together. Being United Methodist, many of them revolved around food. We will be sharing all of the specific ideas on a vision document with both church councils, as well as our congregations. A sample of the ideas were community tables, community gardening, pop-up restaurants, medical loan closets, and a full-fledged community partnership center modeled after “The Mix” in Dallas. There were many other thoughts. The idea was also brought up to host revenue-generating ministries in the Calvary building in order to fund some larger future ministry goals (food truck commissary, co-working rental space, etc).
As the day was ending, we made sure we identified next steps. Primary in those next steps is a clear nudging that the group does feel led to partner, as two churches. We hereby make a recommendation to our respective councils that these conversations continue, with the intent of developing an intentional ministry partnership. Further, we have committed to praying over this building. We are finalizing arrangements to allow everyone from both councils a chance to get in to see the Calvary space (we will eventually expand this invitation to our entire congregations). In the next week, we will have a list of key community organizations that we feel would be valuable partners in assessing the needs of the community more closely. Once we have that list, we have committed to contacting these partners and reporting our findings back to the group. We will continue to update our list of questions received as well as unveiling a “vision” document, which lists all of the ideas we currently have for ministry together. The current vision team is tasked with praying through the vision document and “sticky noting” the top three visions that they feel God is leading us toward accomplishing together. We are proposing a shorter follow up meeting with the visioning group on February 13, 2021 from 9:30 until 12pm to discuss the findings of our community research and vision goals.
Our day finished with scripture from Philippians 4, in which Paul writes: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things…” We covenant to “think about these such things” - including by prayer walking around the Calvary building and out into the streets of Lemoyne.