The first of several opportunities to consider the future direction of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church has been completed, and I wanted to let you know some of the take-aways from that event.
On May 20, more than 20 members of Session met together for a Foundations Retreat. This was an opportunity for the Session to recall and discuss programs and ministries of PHPC since our founding, what programs and ministries have been continued, what programs and ministries were tried and discontinued, and why.
Although I was not able to attend, the Transition Team has since met and discussed what arose at this retreat. Two things struck me most when the Transition Team was talking about this: the consistency of the focus of our ministry since Day 1 and the wide variety of programs we have tried over the past 32 years to accomplish this ministry.
From the very beginning, PHPC has focused on providing a grace-based message of relationships to God and to each other. Starting with our mission statement, “Connecting faith with everyday life”, we have looked for ways to spread the love and grace of God to our congregation and to the surrounding community. We have always emphasized the cooperative nature of the leadership of our church.
Whether we are seeking new elders for Session or someone to help serve a meal, we have always tried to be inclusive, welcome new ideas and reach out to encourage all members to be involved. We have always cared for those around us, whether that was the children and young mothers in our community, prompting us to create a Christian Preschool; creating Care teams for Seniors; or focusing on mission trips for adults, families and youth. We embrace diversity, providing a safe, positive and nurturing environment to explore our differences. This makes us a more complete body of Christ. And we have always sought to have a variety of programs so that, no matter people’s interests, there will always be a way for them to participate in ministry.
The programs and ministries were the second thing that struck me as we discussed the Foundation Retreat. I had forgotten many of the ministries that we have had over the years. But, just reading the list brought back many memories. I remember now how cutting edge it was to have a female Associate Pastor who actually preached from the pulpit; that now seems like ancient history. We also tried some different forms of worship over the years including the Sunday night contemporary UpWord! Service and the Southern Gospel service.
I was reminded of special fellowship events like our softball and basketball teams, the Open Door singles group, the 30s group, square dancing, 50s night, PHPC family camp, and alternative Christmas parties. I remembered spending the night at the Clifton Men’s Shelter and some eye-opening events that really encouraged a lot of people to move out of their comfort zones. I was reminded of the first time we tried other outreach opportunities including International Mission trips, Family mission trips, Youth mission trips, Rainbow Village, and Family Promise. And other significant steps in a developing congregation were illustrated by the various dedication events as we built our first facility, an education building, the West Wing, and then the current Sanctuary.
As we prepare to bring in a new Head of Staff, we all need to consider what programs and ministries are important and critical to the life of PHPC, which could stand to go away, what we might want to bring back and try again, and what new ideas for ministry we might try. The Congregation Assessment Tool will be available in the next several weeks and it is very important that everyone provide input. Don’t leave this to others and assume that someone else will bring forward your ideas. We need to hear from everyone.
Clerk of Session, Pleasant Hill Presbyterian