What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-26-21
At our February 14 discernment meeting an FCC Granby member repeated something that had been said in an earlier conversation about the consolidation/collaboration proposal: “Let’s just get to know each other first. If we do that well, the building issues will work themselves out.”
Research on successful (and failed) consolidations bears this out. Even though up to this point most of the anxiety at First Church and South Church has been around buildings, research shows that buildings and facilities are the least likely deal breakers in consolidation projects (only 4%). The most likely deal breakers are conflict over personnel (28%), trust issues/power struggles (22%), traditions (18%) and culture (10%), (Better Together, p. 108) . . . Which brings me to the concept of “below the green line.”
Put very simply, the “green line” is an imaginary division between what is concrete, rational, and public in an organization and what is relational, irrational, and subconscious in an organization.
Above the green line are the “rational” parts of the organization, such as “structure, process (operations), and pattern.” In a church organization, these are the pieces that what GUCCI is calling the “nuts and bolts” working group will be dealing with: governance and by-laws, staffing and personnel, legal work for creating new identity, finances, endowments, financial audits, insurance, and properties, including memorial gardens.
Below the green line are the “irrational” parts of the organization, such as information, relationships, and identity.
Information is “like oxygen in the system . . . access to information greatly minimizes the negative rumors that can occur within organizations.” GUCCI team has committed itself to regular, clear, and consistent messaging around what’s happening with our collaboration work and what we envision the next steps to be.
Relationships: “People need to have open relationships with the people they work with, trusted relationships that lead to commitment and powerful work getting done. Relationships occur not only between people, but between programs, departments, and organizations (think connections).”
Identity “looks like repeated opportunities for self- reflection and connecting personal beliefs and values to the mission and vision of the organization. It means being reminded of why we come to [church], what’s most important to us” about our faith, and “finding ways to stay true to ourselves” while building a new congregation that wil have a new identity. This is our “Why.”
For the reasons above, below the green line work will be critical to the success of our project.
Prayer of Confession
Holy God, Scripture tells us that Jesus, our brother, was tempted. We’re forever grateful for Jesus, your beloved one, who shares our weaknesses and knows our human tendencies to stray from your intention for us. Give us the courage to stop the pretense that we have it all together. Give us the humility we need to let down our guard. Give us the wisdom required to create a congregation safe enough and brave enough for each of us to be like Jesus–fully and authentically human. Amen.
What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-19-21
Congratulations! First Congregational Church of Granby took an historic vote this past Sunday in a process of “re-uniting” with our UCC siblings, South Congregational Church of Granby. The “engagement” decision means that the two congregations will begin a more formal process of taking steps to become one, new United Church of Christ in Granby.
I’m aware that as a congregation we are experiencing quite a mix of feelings: grief, disappointment, hope, excitement, confusion, doubt, impatience, elation, and many others. This is normal and doesn’t necessarily speak to the “rightness” or “wrongness” of the decision. Our congregational ancestors handed down to us this practice of congregational meeting in which we prayerfully seek, to use the words of Jesus, that “not my will, but thy will be done.”
So, we did our best to seek God’s will and the outcome is that we will be pursuing consolidation with South Church using a “marriage” model (see last week’s column). And while there are questions of “what’s next” that the GUCCI team is working to answer, I encourage us to take a moment to sit, breathe, and appreciate this new place in which we find ourselves as a congregation. What does it look like? Feel like? Sound like?
Years ago I did training with the Mennonites in spiritual discernment for congregations. Mennonites practice Christian peacemaking. They come from the same branch of the Christian family tree as Quakers, Amish, and Bretheren. As I remember it, an important part of the discernment process is “resting,” that is, once a decision is made, take some time to search your heart. What arises? Was something overlooked in the process? Is something unresolved that needs more conversation? Is there a sense of peace? Regardless of our personal feelings about the outcome, is there a sense of completeness that allows us to take the next step forward with confidence?
I invite us to take this moment to deepen our walk with God.
What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-12-21
The GUCCI (Granby United Church of Christ Initiative) team has been using a marriage metaphor to describe the collaboration/consolidation process we are imagining.
In the book Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work the “marriage model” is one of four consolidation models that the authors describe. Here’s what they say about the marriage model:
“Marriage mergers occur when two comparable churches, similar in size and/or health realign with each other under a united vision and new leadership configuration. Marriage mergers in churches are a lot like a marriage of two people coming together as one bringing strengths, and liabilities to the new entity. and like a lot of human marriages churches coming together may have some difficulties, but they can work through them.”
This seems to pretty accurately describe our situation. In this metaphor, as I understand it, the past three years of Union Services and GUCCI meetings and other joint efforts could be described as “dating.”
The vote this coming Sunday is to “get engaged.” No metaphor is perfect. Different folks will have different understandings of what it means to “get engaged.” The important thing to keep in mind is that getting engaged is NOT the same thing as getting married. It’s a commitment that the parties will make whole-hearted and good faith preparations for making public and sacred vows of union.
So engagement is serious, but it doesn’t mean the marriage is a done deal. Even with the best of efforts things can fall apart. That’s OK. There’s no way to know for certain beforehand, but if we proceed with openness and honesty we can walk this journey together and find some blessing in it regardless of the outcome.
My wife, Nicole, and I are both children of divorced parents. We approached our engagement with few illusions. I asked Nicole to marry me Valentine’s Day (I know, so cliche) 1996. She said, “Yes.” Afterward we had a very serious but honest conversation about our expectations for our engagement and anticipated marriage. Nicole said to me, “This means that whatever happens, we do it together.” Fast forward, this year we are getting ready to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.
That’s my understanding of the step we as churches are being invited to take. What’s yours?
How marvelous! How wonderful! We gather in your presence, Holy God. We gather in this sanctuary space. We gather in our home spaces. We gather online here in Granby and around the world and in every place and every time you are there. Each cup of coffee, each snowflake, each fur baby, each floorboard, each thing shines with your light. Every smiling face, every salty tear, every broken heart, shines with your glory. Give us eyes to see, minds to perceive, and voices to praise you. Amen.