In early January 2020 the Vital Congregations Initiative (VCI) workbooks for leaders and congregations arrived hot off the presses from Louisville and were distributed to our first wave of twelve VCI Congregations. The pastors and leaders of these congregations that were trained in 2019, are now busy beginning to map out their timelines for introducing worshippers to the Vital Congregations Initiative and especially the Seven Marks of Vital Congregations.
A recent email from the VCI Office in Louisville reported that they have been working diligently on Spanish and Korean Translations for Vital Congregations material. The translated material will be ready in a few weeks. They also announced that the Second Wave of VCI Congregations will be kicked off with a Gathering and Facilitators Training in Austin TX on April 23-30, 2020. Any Cascade congregations interested in training or seeking more information about VCI congregations are encouraged to contact Barbara Campbell, email@example.com, as soon as possible. Training may also be available locally for our second wave congregations.
Who is the Vital Congregations Initiative for? It is not for congregations that are no longer vital. Every one of our congregations is a vital faith community in their own way, but many are also recognizing that we are called to some new ways of being the Church in the 2020s. We are all aware of how fast the world around us constantly changes. The Church has met changes in reforming theology and cultural understanding ever since Jesus first called us to stick together in worship and service and we began meeting in house-churches. The Spirit continues to lead us to marvelous new ways of being the Body of Christ.
The Vital Congregations Initiative affirms and challenges our dedicated disciples and faithful congregations to continue to look for revitalization; for new ways to reach our neighbors with the Good News and care for those in need around us! We celebrate the many gifts among us and the strength that we have always find when we pull together toward a common and exciting goal.
At the same time, as always, there are challenges we need to face together and if we don’t commit to meeting those challenges who will? We have the experience of faith. We have the knowledge of how God has been and continues to be at work in us and in the world around us. We have the wisdom that brings perseverance, courage, patience, balance, and grace to being a faith community of diverse individuals. Nothing new there, so let’s use what we’ve come to know and love about being Church to build a new Church for our neighbors who, like stranger from the east, are desperately wondering and wandering, falling a star perhaps, to see if there’s anything out there worthy of homage, trust, and renewed hope.
We have asked our first twelve congregations to keep us informed about their VCI work so that we can celebrate with them. Pastor Andrew Hoeksema from Redmond Presbyterian writes, “I preached a real “We Can Do This” kind of sermon about discerning God’s calling for us as a church in the new year and new decade yesterday. Going for it in 2020! At Redmond, we will do the primary sermon series and Adult Ed efforts around VCI in the weeks following Easter instead of the season of Lent. We will feel better prepared with material at that time and in my mind it fits better with themes of resurrection than journeying to the cross.
Pastor Jeff Binder from Valley Presbyterian in Portland reported that Valley Community will be celebrating their Vital Congregations kickoff in worship on Sunday, January 26th at 10 am! Everyone is welcome to join them. Valley has recently completed an assessment on their congregations Seven Marks of Vitality following a sermon series on those Seven Marks last fall.
More to come! Stay tuned!
Barbara Campbell, Cascades VCI Coordinator
Jeff Binder, Valley PC and Bob Barrett, Yachats PC,
are also serving as Cascades VCI Facilitators.
2020 Cascades VCI Congregations