The last month has flown by! I've truly enjoyed our interaction with our friends at Summit Springs Community Church. Corey McDonald is a wonderful leader and pastor, and I'm deeply enjoying the friendship we're building. The worship teams from each church have worked hard together, and the combined teams, with a rotation of leaders each week, have helped design and lead some deeply meaningful worship services. Other teams have been exploring partnerships as well. The congregations have shared different opportunities to meet one another, and we have all sensed God's Spirit throughout the month.
So, the obvious question is, "What's next?"
The Session of New Summit met this week, and made the following decision: We voted to continue the experiment with Summit Springs for the month of May, 2015, and to take additional steps in the exploration of a merger or some other formal partnership. We know that the leadership of Summit Springs needs to make its own decision, but here are the things we would like to see happen in May of 2015, plus one that will happen this Sunday, April 26.
1. On Sunday, April 26, 2015, Pastor Corey and Pastor Dave will lead an informational time following the worship service.
2. During May, 2015, the leadership of the two congregations will encourage an increased level in partnership between the Children's ministry teams and the Fellowship teams of each congregation. (New Summit's language- we understand that Summit Springs may have different names for the teams leading these ministries.)
3. During May, 2015, the leadership of New Summit will meet together to fully review the last month. We'll share that meeting with an Administrative Commission from Heartland Presbytery. That commission has been created to help New Summit with the exploration of potential next steps.
4. During May, 2015, there will be a gathering of leadership from both congregations, to continue the conversation.
5. At the end of May, 2015, the Session of New Summit will meet again, and will determine whether or not to continue with steps toward a formal partnership with Summit Springs. Should our decision be favorable, we envision that the summer of 2015 would be a time for the establishment of working groups, each of which will have the responsibility of developing different parts of the formal partnership.
In addition to all of these things, New Summit will continue to explore other possibilities for the fulfillment of the mission of the congregation. One of these will be a meeting with leaders from Cornerstone Church, our next-door neighbor. We'll also continue to work on the development of a potential free health clinic, and for possible alternate uses of the property.
The bottom line: we have enjoyed our friendship with Summit Springs, and we want to keep our momentum moving forward. We're going to take further steps in the direction of a formal partnership, but we are not yet ready to commit to a formal partnership. May, 2015, will help us to clarify the way forward.
As you'll hear this Sunday, the potential for a partnership, while very exciting, is also very challenging. It will take time. It will guarantee changes for every single person. It will require that everyone participate. It will have some financial costs associated with it as well. The task of leadership is to build trust, encourage pure and unfiltered debate, make a clear decision, practice healthy accountability for each objective, and pay attention to the results. Over the next weeks we'll be attempting to enjoy the momentum while practicing good leadership skills at the same time.
Please remember that you'll have an important part in all of this. Be thoughtful, keep asking questions, participate fully, and lift up each congregation and its leaders in prayer. I'm grateful to be part of the journey with you!