Archive

Tag: Balcony Group

November 21, 2017

If you’ve read the Strategic Plan document available around the church, you’ve learned about the four-pillared plan that grew out of the work of The Balcony Group over the last year. If you haven’t read the document, you may want to pick up a copy on Sunday or read it here. When you do, we hope you’ll feel the gratitude all of us on staff feel when we anticipate the ways we expect to expand our work for Christ here in the heart of Charlotte.

That work is already under way. Each of the Four Pillars of the Strategic Plan–Life Together, Welcoming Each Other and Our Neighbors, Serving Our City and Sustaining Our Future–has been broken down into three initiatives for implementing the plan. Committees are now in the process of developing action plans around those 12 initiatives.

Below, you’ll see who is heading up the committees that are developing those actions, how to contact the people chairing those committees, and the timeline for implementation. We encourage you to thank them for leading us into the future. We also hope you’ll have conversations with these committee chairs to share your thoughts about these initiatives.

In wave one, we will begin work on initiatives to:

Broaden Adult Christian Formation

Staff contacts Garrell Keesler & the Reverend Katelyn Gordon Cooke  (October 2017 through January 2018)

 

Deepen Our Relationships with One Another

Co-Chairs Jean Cochrane & Milt Childress (October 2017 through January 2018)

 

Foster Hospitality

Co-Chairs Melissa Toth & Jenny Allen (October 2017 through January 2018)

 

Offer Different Ways of Worship

Co-Chairs Tommy Holderness & Gail Henderson-Belsito (October 2017 through May 2018)

 

Embrace and Engage the Needs of Our City

Co-Chairs John Tate, Scott Warfield & Scott Bryan (October 2017 through May 2018)

 

Create a Financial Resource Development Plan

Co-Chairs Mike Fischer & Bart Landess (October 2017 through May 2018)

 

Cultivate Future Leaders

Co-Chairs Mark Caldwell & Amy Brinkley (January through May 2018)

 

Craft a Master Campus Plan

Co-Chairs Jimmy Dudley & Susan Keesler (October 2017 through Summer 2018)\

 

In wave two, committees will begin work on initiatives to:

Honor the Sabbath (January through December 2018)

Reimagine our Physical Space (January through September 2018)

Emerge as an Epicenter of Service in Our City (May 2018 through Spring 2019)

Expand Pastoral Counseling Outreach in Our City (May through December 2018)

 

Watch for updates from these committees under News & Announcements on the Now@FPC page.

 

 

March 24, 2017

For many months now, our Balcony Group has listened for the Holy Spirit in developing a strategic plan for the next three to five years. This group has listened through conversations with our officers; for the wisdom of our past efforts in strategic and long-range planning; during visits to other vital, center-city churches around the country; and during lots and lots of meetings.

The strategic plan they are drafting will be built on our existing shared vision—taking what we do well and enhancing/expanding it so that it moves us into the future.

The draft the Balcony Group is working on now will recommend specific, aspirational, yet attainable initiatives that flow from four objectives, or planks: Welcome, Serving our City, Life Together and Stewardship. As they aim for finishing that draft in April, here’s how the Balcony Group is defining those planks.

Welcome: In a time when there is a trend for people to choose spirituality over religion, our efforts in Christian hospitality matter more than ever. That welcome extends from our worship, to our physical campus, to our use of media and tools for communication.

Serving our City: We will always continue to reach beyond Charlotte—with mission to the world and cities other than our own. But now seems to be a time to pay special attention to being agents of transformation in the center of the city where we were established as a church for this community. To be effective agents of God’s transformation, we have to grapple with and seek to understand what Charlotte’s issues are. One providential piece of timing is that the Economic Opportunity Task Force is set to release its report, which will highlight particular areas of focus in our city that are in need of transformation. We imagine some of our initiatives under this objective will align with part of what the Task Force recommends.

Life Together: Deitrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book called Life Together, which describes what the family of faith looks like when we recognize the gift of Christian community. It is a stark difference from the frenetic, polarized, shallow existence that so often exists without the grounding of Christ’s presence. Initiatives under this objective will help encourage and affirm our life together as a community of every age and stage.

Stewardship: Stewardship is a spiritual practice that must be taught and valued. It does not happen by accident. Stewardship asks us to invest in a future that we do not get to see.  Initiatives in this area will develop strategies to deepen our commitments and diversify our approach.

This plan and this impact begin soon—this year. And our implementation of this plan will set a trajectory that will lead us into our third century of ministry, which begins in 2021. The Balcony Group’s work on the strategic plan will certainly be what the congregation and our neighborhood feel first.  It will energize, focus, and deepen our mission to be for Christ in the Heart of Charlotte.

Watch for a recap of my comments about God’s call to us from the March 12 Town Hall in the April issue of FirstNEWS, which will be available beginning March 26 in the historic lobby and on the website beginning Monday, March 27.

– Pen Peery

March 17, 2017

O Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90:1-2)

We’ve watched so much change from our corner of center city. And we are all so aware that change will continue. Yet, from generation to generation and through every way Charlotte has changed, we have offered a faithful witness to Christ. As we’ve embarked on strategic planning for the next 3-5 years and an exploration of what God is calling us to do with the asset and responsibility that is our Poplar Street parking lot, the big question both the Balcony Group and the West Campus Visioning Committee keep coming back to is this:

How will God use our church as an instrument for proclaiming Good News in our city?

The next step is for the Balcony Group to complete its draft of a strategic plan. That work is in progress. We might expect to have a look at that draft in April. One thing I can say with certainty is that welcome and hospitality will be part of that plan.

Regarding the Poplar Street parking lot, we are still in the process of asking that question, and your feedback continues to inform that process of seeking clarity. In other words, we are several steps away from having concrete initiatives in mind. And timing for any implementation of a plan with implications for the parking lot property may be years away and will be thoroughly evaluated by Session before any action occurs.

Watch for a recap of the four planks of the strategic plan being written by the Balcony Group in next week’s blog, which you can also access from the Now@FPC page on the website. A third follow-up from the Town Hall meeting will be in the April FirstNEWS, available in the historic lobby on March 26.

As these conversations about our future continue, I ask for you to pray for God’s wisdom and for our continued faithfulness in following God’s call to be a witness to Christ in the center of Charlotte.

– Pen Peery

August 16, 2016

Pen mug 7-16Most afternoons, on my drive home from church, I witness a scene that has been gnawing at me since I arrived at First Presbyterian four years ago. It’s a bus stop where some of the people whom I have met over the past few years are settling down to sleep for the night, their belongings stuffed into bags that they hold close.  Other people at that bus stop aren’t there to sleep, but they look tired. I can see the stress of being overworked in their eyes and in their posture. They are on their way home after a long day and, even though they have spent their day surrounded by people, I see loneliness in their faces.

Seeing these people, day after day, suggests to me that there is more work God calls the church to do.

These two groups of people need different things. Some need food, access to healthcare, and a place to lay their head. Others need community, an opportunity to interact in ways that go beyond a transaction, and a place where they can have the space to explore the things that really matter.

Charlotte has a lot going for it, but we are still a city in need. We need more affordable housing. We need better economic mobility and access to opportunity. We need more early childhood education. We also need deeper faith, and places to be vulnerable, and an increased awareness of the holy.

In the heart of all this is our church home, with its mission to witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote to God’s people who found themselves in an urban environment, surrounded by need.  “Seek the welfare of the city,” Jeremiah wrote, “for in its welfare you will find your own…” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Over the past six to nine months I have been spending time with some leaders in our church thinking about the ways we might let Jeremiah’s words inform our actions. In the near-term we are considering God’s call for us in 2017, as we prepare for stewardship season this fall. In the mid-term, a committee called the Balcony Group is working to develop a strategic plan to guide the Session and the church for the next 3-5 years. In the long-term, members of the West Campus Visioning Committee are continuing their work to discern God’s call for the incredible asset that is our parking lot, a vision we expect to impact this church and how it serves the needs of our city well into our third century here in the center city.

I believe God’s purpose for us as a church is bound up in our willingness to seek the welfare of our city. That’s why we were founded almost 200 years ago, and it needs to be why we exist 100 years from now.

There is great work being done to embrace this particular calling for our church. In the coming months, you will be invited to contribute your voice to this planning effort—through surveys, focus groups, and neighborhood gatherings.

This is an exciting time to be a part of First Presbyterian Church. The need for our witness and ministry has never been more urgent. And as we look into the future, God’s providence and promise to be with us in our life together has never been more sure.

What if the people I pass each afternoon at that bus stop experienced First Presbyterian Church as a place of welcome, a source of strength and a community where they could deepen their faith?  If they knew us that way, I think we would be fulfilling our vision as the body of Christ that God sent into the world to save.

– Pen Peery