Over the past year, the Session and its committees have been working on a mind-boggling range of things to strengthen, focus, and guide our congregation into a new era of ministry together. This has meant everything from new worship experiences, to a new staffing design, to new initiatives for children’s ministry, to new financial systems for greater transparency and accountability.

But one of the most important tasks has been a re-articulation of our mission as a congregation of Christ’s Church here in Bethlehem and now in the early 21st century, and of the values that we strive to uphold as we go about that mission. It is always important for a congregation to have a clear and unifying statement of it particular mission. But it is especially important for us, after a period of great conflict and division in the congregation, to re-state our sense of what God is calling us to do and who God is calling us to be. So the Session has undertaken that crucial work of discernment over the last year: in its regular meetings, in a special retreat last summer, in conversations with members, and even in presenting a draft for feedback at the Annual Congregational Meeting in February.

Having prayed and thought deeply about these issues, considered the various input, and debated over language, I am delighted to say that the Session officially adopted a new Mission Statement and Values Statement at its meeting last week. You can read these statements here. If you attended the Annual Meeting, you will find the language little changed, since there was a resounding affirmation for both statements there at the meeting.

But regardless, I think you will find that both statements capture our sense of purpose and call well: to be a congregation that follows Christ actively through the work of our hearts, minds, and hands; a congregation for whom faith is not simply an abstract set of beliefs but a way of life that empowers each one of us in active ministry; a congregation that trusts in the reconciling power of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and so is welcoming of diverse backgrounds and insights, believing that such diversity strengthens our ability to be faithful to God’s living Word and Spirit. I am immensely grateful to be pastor of this congregation, and am eager to see what God has in store for us as we continue to living into this common calling!