Our goals for 2020-2021

Our progress as of March 31, 2022

Our current Map focuses on forming, adapting, and building. We want to form ourselves in line with the character of Jesus as his followers. We want to adapt to the world around us in order to present the Gospel to the next person. And we want to build a church that can grow into who we need to be next. The Pastors offer stories below which aim to illustrate the real time impact of the goal and give you a window about how you might get involved or realize how you are already involved in your own story.

Form: be molded as followers of Jesus.

“Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” Romans 12:2.  

A story about our formation from Julie Hoke: In a cell meeting recently, a cell member was struggling with feeling like listening circles for certain groups of people are exclusionary. Before the cell leader could respond, two other members offered a beautiful vision about how centering voices of those on the margins and creating safe spaces to process actually makes room for everyone. It was evidence to the cell leader that people really are being formed and transformed in this work of anti oppression over the last year. The vision is spreading!

Specific details on our objectives below. Review our progress from previous quarters at bottom of the page.

The U.S. has been formed by racism, materialism, and militarism, and God is calling us to be transformed as the New Creation. It is apparent from the dialogue in our cells that we want to recommit to addressing the sin of racism in our own lives, in society, and in our church. We want to take this challenge seriously because God is calling us to form the New Humanity in Christ, and the groundswell of change in our cultural conversation about racism means that even more people are ready to join in the work of antiracism.

  • Amplify the voices of people of color, increase their presence on our Leadership Team, and commit to listening to their perspectives even if they cause discomfort.

This quarter we have been discerning a new map together, and each step of the process has been filtered through the lens of those who have been marginalized.

In January, Iboro Umana, leader of the New Humanity Team led the cell leaders to consider antiracism work in our cells and applying this lens in our mapping process.

  • Hire an antiracist consultant to lead us in an extended process of exploration that results in concrete steps to name, confess and address our personal, organizational, and systemic racism.

Bethany Stewart continued to meet with the BIPOC Advisory Committee once a month, and the pastors bi-weekly, providing learning modules, supervision and recommendations for next steps.  

  • Schedule quarterly gatherings to confront the myth that discipleship is just about “correct thinking.” We are continuing to reform, as we imagine our world and our church beyond the frameworks that the powers that be have given us. 

No progress on this goal in this quarter.

  • We expect pain from all of this difficult work. It will require us to go deep. We want to expand engagement with the tools we have already created. Make a team to facilitate and connect people to our Gifts for Growing events and the Way of Jesus. 

Jeff James, author of Giving Up Whiteness, led a workshop on the book in the first week of January. It was well attended, and many folks stayed late for more dialogue. White people are seeking to further their understanding of the often unconscious implications of whiteness in personal and spiritual lives and how it shapes our systems.

  • We designate the existing funds for partnering gifts toward a local organization working for racial restitution.

In total, we set aside $8,049.20 to support racial restitution through a local organization. If you have a recommendation, please let your pastor know!

Adapt: respond to the present circumstances in order to love well.

“I have become all things to all people, so I could save some by all possible means. All the things I do are for the sake of the gospel, so I can be a partner with it.” 1 Cor. 9:22-23

A memory about our adapting, reported by Julie: Wednesday night of Holy Week a team from the Marlton Pike congregation designed a beautiful observance for the whole church that touched on the grief of loss, the confusion of unrealized expectations and daunting transitions. To be able to do this, they asked for what they needed: a 6:30 p.m. start time instead of 8 p.m., like the other nights. They figured if many of them are navigating bedtimes for little ones, others might be too. They provided childcare so more people could participate. The room that night was full, and they even had to add more chairs. Leaders told me that they felt seen, heard and supported by being able to do this in the way that they could. The flexible posture of the church has made space for the Marlton Pike congregation to adapt to being without a congregational pastor, and to continue weekly worship and cells that have brought space for healing and solidarity with the rest of the church. Praise God!

Specific details on our objectives below. Review our progress from previous quarters at bottom of the page.

As a way to love one another we are adapting to the needs of the most vulnerable groups among us. In our immediate context, we are thinking of children, people with disabilities, people who are immunocompromised, people of color, and LGBTQIA folks.

  • Publish a covid-19 safety plan:
    • Continue online Sunday meetings for the foreseeable future.
    • Allow for experimentation of in-person meetings in cells and local Sunday meetings.

The final At Home Sunday meeting happened at the end of January. We are grateful for all the creativity and organization Nathan McGlothin brought as the AHSM Coordinator. Regular attenders were invited to connect via Zoom at our congregational meetings.

We continued to ask that everyone attending in person be fully vaccinated (and recommended that everyone be boosted if they are eligible). 

  • Expand and improve our online presence to stay accessible to all people even when we are able to meet in person (this will require investment in equipment and perhaps personnel). 

Integrating what we learned about inclusion and accessibility through the AHSM meetings into the life of the church, hybrid and online cells continue, and Zoom options are provided for many other meetings.

  • Hold meetings for the vulnerable groups among us to foster community and safety.

BIPOC, LGBTQIA and Disability groups met several times over the course of the mapping discernment process to continue to shape the goals.

  • Reduce our environmental footprint and conserve natural resources in our homes, buildings, and events by acting together on a proposal from one of our Compassion Teams.

No progress on this goal in this quarter.

  • Develop resources and opportunities for Village Parenting during this time.

Becca Pulchalsky, who was the Children’s Team Coordinator for several years, has left the church. Each congregation is reforming local children’s teams. The Germantown and S. Broad congregations restarted children’s Sunday meetings. Frankford Ave will begin after Lent.  

The Germantown congregation is using a new way to engage children in worship and wonder through Godly Play. Kathleen Karnak-Glasby and Aaron Bergmann are organizing an upcoming training in May for anyone interested in becoming a storyteller. Other congregations are exploring this.

Build: grow as the organism we are.

“Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.” Ephesians 4:15-16

A story about building from Rachel Sensenig: I was eating dinner at a local restaurant last week and was delighted to see several dear friends walk in, one by one. We chatted and caught up and they all sat down together because they were a cell, having their cell meeting over some delicious tacos! Jeff James planted this cell this quarter simply by calling a few folks personally and asking if they wanted to start some local community in Christ, having a regular time to hang and care for each other and include new friends. The gravity of their love was felt in that restaurant and is spilling out into the neighborhood, simply by their presence. I pray we continue to gather like that this year, in all the ways we can.

Specific details on our objectives below. Review our progress from previous quarters at bottom of the page.

Our communal life expressed in cells has been essential to the health of our church during this time. Healthy cells grow, and we want to support their health and growth in all the ways we can. We are not contained by property or geography. 

  • Focus all of our Cell Leader trainings on overcoming barriers to relational discipleship in this isolating age.

Our trainings in 2022 so far have included an interview style of content-sharing because we learn best by relating with one another.

  • Complete the project of getting a new version of the Cell Plan online in an easy-to-use format

We are moving toward making updates to our cell plan that reflect more liberation theology, in a more simplified format (See new map draft in progress)

  • Launch circleofhope.church, a new website that clearly communicates who we are to the region and is easier to find on search engines. 

Our Communications Manager, Laura, continues to improve and update the website with content we all create. Did you see the Easter video from our resurrection celebration on Lemon Hill?

Previous Quarters: