first Presbyterian Church

of Cumberland, Maryland
Our Visioning Process
In September 2013, the Session approved our congregation’s participation in New Beginnings, a process designed to help congregations consider a new vision for their ministry, and appointed a leadership team of five congregation members. Originally designed for congregations who face urgent and often drastic decisions about change, the use of New Beginnings is now also used to help congregations who are getting older and smaller, like ours, engage in self-examination and reflection about how to adapt to the changing context in which we do ministry.
 
The message of Christ hasn’t changed but the context in which we are called to share and live out that message has changed drastically. Our call is to determine how God is leading us to adapt to the change so that the wider community knows that we still have something very important to share. For example, how do we do ministry in light of:
 
  • The pluralistic culture of today in contrast to the Christian culture of the 1950s and 1960s?
  • The recognition that more people today attend church out of a conscious desire to connect with the faith community rather than because “that’s what everyone does on Sunday?”
  • A time of great emergence, in which the ultimate shape of society and church is yet unknown and where change is occurring at a dizzying pace?
  • A shift from the attractional model of ministry yesterday to the missional model of ministry of today?
 
We started this process in November 2013, with an assessment conducted by a New Beginnings consultant. In January 2014, our New Beginnings Team attended a two-day training to help guide us through a look at the assessment, which included a description of our community, the make-up and commitment of our congregation, our financial viability and total assets, our mission life, and our buildings and grounds.
 
An important assumption of the New Beginnings program is that congregations are led by God into the future, not by the Presbytery or an outside consultant. That’s why more than 70 members of our congregation participated in small group conversations between March and May. Our time together helped us see ourselves and our context more clearly and raised helpful questions and posed exciting possibilities for our future. The discussions were lively and led us through a range of emotions as we contemplated our future.
 
In June 2014 the Leadership Team presented a report and recommendations to the Session, which were adopted and are being carried out, not as part of a final strategic plan, but as one more step along the way. 
 
Click here for a copy of the New Beginnings Report and RecommendationsJune 17, 2014
Click here for a copy of the New Beginnings Leadership Team Annual Report- January 25, 2015
Click here for a copy of the New Beginnings Reccommendation to Session- May 12, 2015