Steve’s Slant

Georges-Pierre Seurat was a French painter from the 19th century.  He is most famous for helping to pioneer a style of painting known as pointillism.  In this method, the artist applied hundreds of small individual dots of paint to a canvas.  Up close these dots looked just like the name implies–like a blotch of tiny little points.  But from a distance, they resolved into beautiful paintings whose subjects — the Eiffel Tower, Sunday afternoon outings along the River Seine — were easily recognizable.

I mention this because I’d like to update you all on several different pieces of news. Alone, these might seem like individual points on a canvas.  But taken together, I believe they comprise a larger whole.

First, as you may have seen in an earlier email from me, our Session has approved a recommendation to hire a part-time Associate in Ministry.  The position is for sixteen hours a week.  The work will be primarily focused around two of the primary goals of our ministry plan and supporting the leadership teams that are overseeing these goals: improving our congregational care and hospitality; and enhancing our faith development and spiritual nurture.  If you’re interested in more specifics, a copy of the full job description is available on our website.

(Just to be clear about this, my work will be focused on the other three goals of our plan and supporting the leadership teams overseeing and coordinating them: deepening our engagement with and service two the wider community, including the campus community; enhancing our worship and music experience; and strengthening our church for a sustainable future.  Beyond these broader duties, I will also remain primarily responsible for providing the preaching and pastoral ministries of our church, for overseeing and supporting our staff and moderating Session.  I also intend to remain active on Presbytery-level committees, and to continue serving as a visible faith leader — and public representative of this congregation — in the greater Asheville area.)

We have begun receiving applications for the associate position and are cautiously optimistic that we can have it filled by the end of this month.  This is clearly a very consequential hire for us.  So let me invite you to pray for the action team that has agreed to oversee and conduct this search: Corise Gambrell, Kristin Williams and Eloise Murchison.

The second piece of news I wish to share with you is that representatives of our Forward Planning Leadership Team met after worship this past Sunday.  We met mainly to review where we are with regard to the implementation of our Ministry Plan.

It’s worth remembering that from start to finish, it took us more than a year of focused, intentional effort to develop and produce the final version of our plan.  So, as the leadership team noted when we met on Sunday, it is no surprise that the process of implementing the plan is also going to take some time.

I resolutely believe our new team-based model of ministry is right for us.  It lessens the burden carried by a handful of our most active members.  It does this mainly by broadening the opportunities for more members of our church family to engage in and support our programs and ministries.  So, this is obviously a beneficial change for all of us.

But shifting from a committee-based approach to ministry to a team-based model is also a big transition.  To bring us all into a clear, shared understanding of how this model works — how the day-to-day work once overseen by our committees will get done, how our teams relate to Session and to each other, and, crucially, how individual church members can connect with these teams and get involved in our ministries — all of this is going to take some time.  It’s also going to require some focused, intentional effort to communicate this information simply and clearly to our congregation as a whole.

So, helping to paint a clearer picture of what our ministry plan looks like in practice is, I think, our first and most important goal for the immediate future.  As we head into the fall season, our plan is to meet with our leadership and ministry teams to get a sense of how things are going.  We want to know what’s working well and what may not be working as well.  We also want to know what our teams may need to realize their full potential and achieve the goals and objectives we’ve set for ourselves.

I am personally, and deeply, committed to this work.  I know that the members of our forward planning leadership team are also deeply committed to it.  And hopefully within just a few more weeks, we will have a new associate in ministry who can also share in the work of supporting our teams and helping us achieve our goals as we live into our bright, hopeful future.

That’s the big picture we’re all hoping to paint, together.