Cascades Vital Congregations Initiative (VCI)
Covid-19 Edition – 2020-21
by Barbara Campbell
Isaiah 43:19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
Revelation 21:3,5 See, the home of God is among mortals…See, I am making all things new.
Cascades VCI Vision: By the power of the holy spirit, Cascades congregations will discover ways to renew, re-discover and live more fully into Micah’s call to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God” and Jesus’ call to “love God, . . one another, . . . and enemies.”
2020-2021 has been and will become…
- a time of re-awakening throughout neighborhoods and nations;
- a time to call the Church to transform and transcend cultures and contexts;
- a time to reform and revitalize the Body of Christ;
- a time to rediscover faithful discipleship within 21st century and interfaith contexts;
- a time to move from inward institutions to outward relationships and missions.
Cascades VCI plans for 2021:
- Create a “Covid-19 Edition” of the “7 Marks of Vital Congregations” as concise studies for use by sessions, Bible studies, and congregational gatherings that are specifically related to discoveries of being the “church” during Covid.
- Make all VCI resources available to any interested Cascades congregation via a VCI page on “cascadespresbytery.org.”
- Partner with Committee on Ministry Coordinating Council when they think that VCI resources/leaders might help a congregation in conflict or transition.
- Streamline ways of connecting with VCI material (via simpler frameworks, outlines, or checklist formats) geared to Covid-19 situations and non-VCI trained congregations.
- Continue optional, regular interaction between pastors that focus on a specific VCI “theory” via virtual gatherings.
- Recognize and celebrate how congregations are already embodying many of the “7 Marks of Vitality.”
- Request (in Nov) 2021 VCI budget of $10,000. (Half of what was budgeted for 2020) for congregational resources, online training grants, and Part-time VCI Coordinator stipend.re-discover
Joshua Dunham, Pastor at Covenant PC in Gresham, and member of Presbytery’s New Ministries Team recommends contacting any of the following people for help with learning about partnering with community non-profits in providing services to neighborhoods and communities. Each of these people have considerable working knowledge of partnerships they have created and work with.
- LaVeta Gilmore-Jones, Leaven Community – email@example.com
- Melissa Reed, Bishop’s Associate w/ the Oregon Synod – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ron Werner, Organizer for IMIRJ and Director of Together Lab – email@example.com
- Jules Nielson, Co-Pastor of Portsmouth Union Church – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sara Rosenau, Pastor of Waverley Heights UCC – email@example.com
“Effective Organizing for Congregational Renewal” by Michael Gecan
Pamphlet – published August 1, 2008, Available on Amazon for $5.95
If citizens’ organizations can be effective and powerful, welcoming and relational, why aren’t some of the religious institutions that make them up always that way? The answer is they can be, if they learn to use some of the tools that are taught and exercised in the organizations connected to the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF).
In this short booklet, Michael Gecan, who wrote Going Public gives a quick analysis of the tools of organizing that can be taught and mastered by the clergy and lay leaders of religious congregations of all faiths and denominations:
- The art and craft of the individual meetings.
- How to run effective public meetings.
- How to design actions and reduce creating new groups or structures.
- How to create a set of focused campaigns and avoid scores of de-energizing tasks.
- How to do a power analysis of a social or institutional environment before trying to act.
- How to identify and align with new allies.
- How to create and sustain a relational organization and limit bureaucratic demands on leaders.
Resources for Coaching in Renewal/Revitalization of Organizations
PCUSA Office of VCI Coaching Resources
The national VCI office now has trained VCI coaches available to work with individual congregations or presbyteries who request help. Scholarships are available to help cover the cost of these online (perhaps in-person at some point) coaches. Contact the VCI office for information. firstname.lastname@example.org 800-728-7228
Susan Graham, Pastor at Springwater PC in Estacada and Lake Grove PC is Lake Oswego, has been working with coaches through the following organization and recommends them highly.
Susan writes, “They reference their book – The Leader’s Journey – I would recommend that too and I really appreciate the podcast.”
Jeff Binder, Pastor at Valley Community PC in Portland, recommends another organization that provides excellent coaching for pastors and congregations.