Visioning and prayer should always be present
During this same time, the Minnesota Conference was going through a strategic planning and visioning process. Our church benefited from having a representative on the Conference Board of Directors, so we also received ideas, resources, and encouragement from our wider connection within the United Church of Christ. In addition, our partnership with the New Ulm United Church of Christ and the sharing of pastoral leadership from Rev. Hank Campbell has also been helpful. Rev. Campbell has supported our desire to build community connections. He has also been willing to experiment with our worship services, introducing new music and hymnals, supporting guest concerts, programs, and special worship services, etc.
The table was set for July and October 2012, when church leaders and our current pastor, Rev. Campbell, attended two uplifting VRV workshops and June 2013 when we attended the Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Conference UCC. These gatherings were not only inspirational, but they reinforced Rev. Guttermann’s words of advice from a decade ago. And our former Associate Conference Minister, Rev. Elena Larssen, emphatically supported our efforts to move past our fears. The advice was consistent: “Visioning and prayer should always be present.”
We were reminded that visioning and prayer should go on constantly. We remembered Rev. Guttermann’s advice to “grow the ministry.” We learned that vital congregations stop and say “YES, we’ll try that!” VRV – What an exciting concept! VRV – Vitality*Renewal*Vision! Church leaders were re-energized! We saw and heard about ideas other congregations were successfully doing. We decided to try the VRV approach with our small (95 member) congregation and see what would happen. Guess what? The congregation is re-energized!