Moving Forward

Comments on Our “Interim Time” and Beyond

When our most recent Senior Minister, Dr. David C. Fisher, announced his retirement, we began anticipating, and eventually entered into, our current “interim time.” Council leadership responded proactively by immediately focusing on transition study and preparation. The Council read and discussed “Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership”, by Dan Hotchkiss. Much of the book’s recommended transition process was then adapted to our situation. Council members committed themselves to maintaining the positive momentum of the last nine years and continuing it through the interim time and beyond.

To that end, among other things we:

  • Dedicated ourselves to a two-part transition, beginning with a period of discernment to inform the search process that would follow it
  • Engaged the membership in the discernment process related to the work of interim time
  • Encouraged the membership to pray for God’s help and guidance throughout the process
  • Completed the expansion and realignment of our administrative staff
  • Embarked upon a strategic planning and envisioning process, which is ongoing and ready for leadership by a new senior minister
  • Reinvigorated our stewardship efforts
  • Carved out a part-time staff role to help our Christian Help Committee grow service opportunities
  • Deepened our engagement in the anti-trafficking area, spearheaded by a major fundraising concert for Free the Slaves in January
  • Expanded our weeknight Christian Spiritual Development programming
  • Expanded our Lenten education and service offerings

With God’s grace, the data indicate that we are continuing to move forward.  Examples include:

  • We had 14 new members in December and expect a similar sized class in May, which is consistent with our average new member classes the previous years
  • Attendance at 2013 Easter services was the largest in 5 years
  • Average Sunday attendance thus far is headed for a number similar to the previous year
  • Fellowship events, such as our Harvest Dinner and Greening of the Church, were well-attended and vibrant
  • Stewardship giving has increased an average of 12% annually for the past 10 years
  • Our church-wide Lenten service project was a significant and multipronged project
  • We had 11 young people in our most recent Confirmation class
  • Our recent Maundy Thursday Agape Feast was the best attended such event yet
  • We organized very well received and well attended annual Men’s and Women’s retreats

The next five to 10 years

God used our previous senior minister to till the soil and scatter the seed and now we believe it is time for these seedlings to start growing the strong roots necessary for deep faith. The work of the next senior minister will be to help our congregation, a diverse group of Christians, move beyond a Sunday-only experience of Christian life and toward holistic discipleship through Christian education, missions, and service opportunities. Our new senior minister will also lead us in strengthening and enriching the relationship between Plymouth Church and the Plymouth Church School and developing and executing a plan to maximize the use of our ample historic facilities for God’s work. The outward signs of a successful inner transformation will be Plymouth’s financial self-sufficiency through increased stewardship commitment; growth in our role as an anchor for Christ in our community; and expanded outreach efforts to heal God’s broken world.

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