UCCT VISION 2025 - Background
Every faith-based organization must periodically assess whether the organization’s vision and mission remain relevant as it operates in a constantly changing world. Given rapidly changing societal trends, many of which were accelerated by the pandemic, the UCCT church council recently initiated a review of UCCT’s vision, mission and supporting governance structure. The church council’s goal in launching this visioning process is to ensure that our blessed church is well positioned for continued success in carrying out God’s will in the future.
The Vision Team designated by the church council is reaching out to you today to inform you about this visioning process and to ask for your help. First, we are requesting your input on a brief (enclosed) survey regarding UCCT’s vision for the future. This survey will help set the tone for a congregation-wide conversation on UCCT’s vision. Second, we are requesting your participation in one of two forthcoming UCCT 2025 Vision discussion sessions that will be held in the church sanctuary to discuss the survey results and the church’s vision. (Please note that all UCCT COVID-19 protocols, including pre-registration and mandatory masking, will be followed). Finally, we invite you to share your thoughts and suggestions with any Vision Team member as we complete this work on behalf of the church council over the next several months.
For many organizations (e.g., companies, non-profits, community groups), an organizational mission focuses on the well-being or goals of the collective shareholders, employees or organizational members. The charter of a church, however, is quite different. The mission of a church is to support God’s will on earth – including reaching out to those well beyond the church registry or the confines of the sanctuary. The visioning process, therefore, is to understand that God is Still Speaking, to discern his/her plans for UCCT and to develop a Vision that carries out these plans in service of God’s will.
But what IS God’s call for UCCT? What STRENGTHS do we offer that can be extended in carrying out God’s mission? How should we CHALLENGE ourselves and push past the comforts of the familiar to service God’s works in our community? How do we then ALIGN our scare resources in FULFILLMENT of these works? These questions, which form the foundation for the visioning process, are not easy and require prayerful contemplation in order for the discernment of God’s message for UCCT. The visioning process engages church leadership, the congregational membership and other stakeholders in a discussion intended to illuminate God’s plan for UCCT.
In 2015, UCCT initiated a 5-year plan with the final recommendation to launch a new visioning process at the end of the 5 years – a simple recommendation made all that more critical (and difficult) by the magnitude of change facing the church in 2020/2021. In looking at the trends at the church, town, state and overall societal level, we are living in a period of transition – to where, we do not know. However, we do recognize that the traditional model of church worship is being severely challenged by these trends.
Examples of these trends include, but are in no way limited to, the following societal trends in the U.S.:
Increasing mistrust of institutions
Widening gaps and polarization of beliefs
Economic instability and widening levels of social inequity
Increased levels of social isolation and feelings of dissatisfaction
Increasing dependence on technology
Emotional and economic challenges accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic
Increasing cultural focus on individual freedoms vs commitments to groups/society
Rising pressure to address climate change
At the same time, surveys continue to point to a strong and growing demand for systems of belief. This newfound religiosity, however, is being cultivated outside of organized religion. “We are only just now coming to terms with the fact that more and more religion happens outside of traditional institutions.” (Nancy Ammerman, Professor of Sociology of Religion Boston University). The challenge for churches like UCCT is how to meet these needs outside of the traditional church setting.