Every week at our church staff meeting, the team does a “Looking Back, Looking Forward” exercise in which we all take a moment to look back at the major accomplishments of the previous week, before turning to the priorities that are coming up for us as individuals and as a group. It’s a great way for us to celebrate things that have gone well, learn from what could have gone better, and make sure everyone is clear about our common goals for what lies ahead and our individual roles in reaching them.

This Sunday, following a combined worship service at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary, we will be doing something similar as a congregation, but for the previous and upcoming year, not just a week! There is some very important but fairly brief business that the congregation needs to do: most obviously, elect new Elders, Deacons, and members of the Congregational Nominating Committee for the coming year. This is one of the hallmarks of the Presbyterian tradition; only the congregation itself can decide who is called to leadership of the congregation. But much of the meeting will be looking back at the extraordinary year of ministry we had in 2018, and looking forward to 2019 and beyond.

I’m particularly excited for the congregation to respond to the work the Session has been doing to re-articulate our basic sense of identity, purpose, and focus as a congregation of Christ’s disciples. The Session has drafts of a new Mission Statement, Values Statement, and the strategic priorities for our ministry over the next few years. The Session wants to hear questions and feedback from the congregation about those statements before finalizing them, to make sure they resonate with the congregation as a whole. This will not be an exercise in “wordsmithing” the language of the statements, of course; rather, this is a chance to reflect on how well these statements capture our congregation’s spirit and sense of call, so that the Session can consider that input before finishing its work on them.

Please plan to be in worship at 10 a.m. this Sunday to be an active participant in the Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporation of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, immediately following the worship service. And after the meeting plan to have lunch as a congregation in the Fellowship Hall, where a simple meal will be served for a suggested donation of $10, which will go to our mission partners at Northeast Ministry as part of our Souper Bowl of Caring program this year!

Grace and Peace,