Posted by: smstrouse | August 5, 2010

A Church with San Francisco Values?

“Growing (and Blossoming) as a Congregation of Disciples”

Sometimes it takes an outsider to tell you who you really are.  We’ve done the self-study. We’ve been through the mission statement process ad nauseam.  And we still have trouble articulating  who we are in a way that would be accessible and understandable to those whom we would like to reach and invite to our church. 

Then we asked a public relations friend of a friend to come and meet with our council.  The first thing out of his mouth, after listening to us tell our stories, was:  “You’re a church with San Francisco values.”  Well!  Can you say “dumbstruck”? 

I know, I know – there are lots of churches out there with values like ours.  He said “a church,” not “the church.”  But you know it’s a big challenge to find the soundbite, the pithy phrase that says it all.  We’ve struggled to get it all into one statement:  our diversity, our commitment to marriage equality, economic justice, environmental healing, our progressive theology, our creative worship and music.  Yikes! Too many words!   So a year or so ago, we narrowed it down to six. 

Open . . .  Passionate . . . Reflective . . . Daring . . . Engaged . . . and Playful.   Hmmm, that does sound like San Francisco. 

So now the council and SPA, our strategic planning association (committee just didn’t fit with the spa thing), have something to think about. As we move into a discussion of whether or not to rejoin the ELCA, we also move into an exploration of how we are a church with San Francisco values and what that can mean – for ourselves and for those who are looking for a church that is both rooted in the Christian tradition and open to new and innovative ways to be the church in the 21st century. 

I love that our pea plants that we’re growing as part of our summer theme Growing as a Congregation of Disciples have just decided to blossom. What a lovely symbol for First United.  We are blossoming. Stay tuned (or rather, keep an eye on the pea plants); there’s lots more to come.

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