Earlier this spring Council approved an Emergence Team to work with the Leadership Team to advise, reflect, and guide the work of emerging from the pandemic restrictions. While the Covid-19 Action Team is set up to advise us on whether and under what conditions we can gather safely as a community, the Emergence Team has a different charge: to help us consider how we do this in keeping with our values and traditions. The team is meeting weekly for an hour with a “learning agenda.” Recommendations on how to move forward with both in-person gatherings and digital and online programming have been informed by those prayerful discussions, and we will continue to meet until there is a sense that we’ve “arrived” to a place of relative stasis.
Communicating about the thoughtful work behind all our necessary changes-in-motion in these incredibly dynamic times has been challenging! At the bottom of this email you’ll find a video and a written piece from the Emergence Team, sharing reflections on this faithful work. We also hope you’ll take a moment to complete our Emergence Survey. Your experiences, feelings, and expectations are important to us– and essential to ensuring we are flocking and emerging through this time together.
We appreciate your prayers as we continue this emergence journey, and please know that we are holding each one of you in our prayers, always.
The members of the Emergence Team are: Gini Stimpson, Terry Moore (Moderator), Ed Coleman (Assistant Moderator), Dana Weir, Sarah and Jack Marshall, Elizabeth Walkup, Gail Crouch, Vince Santo Pietro, Lisa Klingler, Greg Turner, Trent Siegel, and Margaret Stine, with Pastor Amy and Kyna as staff liaisons and Pastor Catherine and Pastor Steve as welcomed participants.
Click here to watch the Emergence Team reflection video
A reflection on emergence from Dana Weir:
I wanted to speak a bit more on the possibilities of the reimagined church, the process of recreating church, expanding the definition of the church body, and reinventing the idea of worship. This is so exciting and, yes, scary. This committee meets at a time when we are on the cusp of a massive transition, after a year and a half of so many transitions, we are shifting from the remote and individual ways we’ve accessed online church to the collective gathering of worshipers within the church building. We are also planning on creating a virtual experience of some kind that allows access for members and friends who cannot physically be at church.
It’s the body of the church growing…like metamorphosis! I believe we are in a chrysalis phase with this process of emergence. We don’t yet know what our wings will look like…
I grew up attending the tiny, rural church of Newport UCC, where my parents were very involved. Fortunately for me, my parents sent me to camp every summer (camp N-Sid-Sen). As a teen, I went through some painful years of feeling very isolated in Newport, very lonely and often depressed. But, I had a sense of belonging and family with my camp friends that didn’t exist in any other setting. I had a sense of “home” at camp that was deep and abiding. I joined the Youth and Young Adult Council when I was 16, and attended quarterly meetings in various cities with other WA youth, from all around the state (one of those teens is now my husband!). We had an amazingly fun time, but we also did some significant work towards creating programming, networking between churches and having a presence at Annual Meeting.
Being on this youth council and being part of church camp taught me that church was not located in a particular place. “Church” was creating a space for the experience of Spirit. In fact, when I was a teen, I did not often feel Spirit when I was going to my local church. I felt Spirit when I went to morning watch at camp. I felt it at WYRE, when we did community service. I felt it during those YYAC meetings, when we were outrageously silly and theatrical! “Church” was something that happened, something relational and not bound by place.
Now, we have this incredible opportunity to imagine UCUCC that is at once a physical place AND not bound by place. The miraculous portal of the internet allows us to expand the church experience to almost any location. It’s possible to share the culture and covenant of UCUCC with a physically distant and widening audience. It’s possible for the gospel of Liberation Theology and the creation of a Beloved Community can reach all of those who long for this spiritual experience, near and far.
Because we are growing new wings, it’s going to take time. It’s going to take a process of decision making, experimentation, making mistakes, trying again, more decision making, and on and on. But I have faith these wings will fly!
Blessings and thanks,