Long Range Plan 2010-15
All Saints’ Episcopal Church
South Hadley, MA
Letter from the Rector
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
In January 2010, at the Annual Meeting of All Saints’ Church, I announced my intention to engage a Long Range Planning Committee in the task of creating a Long Range Plan for the parish, and outlined a process in which everyone would have a voice in creating our parish’s sense of identity and vision. Now, in September 2010, by listening to 70+ members of the parish, and after months of hard work and with deep gratitude to the Committee and to Greg Williams, its Chair, I am pleased to present to you the completed project.
This Plan is a statement of belief and a parish narrative. It articulates who we are as a parish, what we believe, and how we understand and strive to support the fundamental ministries of Welcome, Worship, Learning, Serving, Giving and Connecting. The parish does a lot of things well, and we respond quickly to need; we have fun programs and meaningful, faithful worship. The key to the future success of our programs and to the growth of the congregation is that we move forward intentionally, by naming who we are and by claiming the vision to which God calls us. This identity will clarify our unique character as an Episcopal Christian community, will help us to become better known in South Hadley and the surrounding towns as people begin to develop a sense of who we are and what we are about, and will assist newcomers in accessing more and clearer on-ramps as they attempt to connect with the parish.
This Plan is a planning tool and a living document. The vision articulated here will be essential in helping us, as a congregation, to make mature and careful decisions as we move forward, and will help us maintain a sense of direction as we grow and develop our programs with intentionality. The vestry in particular will use the Plan as it prioritizes and makes decisions, as monies are allocated and as new programs are developed. As a living document, the Plan will likely transform over the years; it is not set in stone, but will be able to change and grow with us as we move forward, evaluate, and continue to reflect on our vision.
This Plan is an invitation and a call to ministry. Each of our Core Values reflects one or more aspects of our common life in community. When they are grouped into six categories, all our efforts, the visible and the not-so-visible, fall into place as vital, different yet complementary, ways of living and working together as God’s faithful people. My hope is that as you read this Plan, you will read yourself into it, and see in it an invitation to participate more deeply in the life of All Saints’ Church. Each of you is an essential part of this community, and each of you has gifts that are needed to make this Plan successful and to help in realizing the Kingdom of God. As you read, ask yourself where God is calling you to connect, and where you are inspired to offer your time, talents and treasure in our shared ministry.
This Plan is steeped in prayer. We began every listening session and meeting with prayer for our parish family. We trust that it is God who guided us in and through this process, and who will continue to lead us to be faithful witnesses, through word and example, to a world in need of God’s healing and direction and love.
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With blessings upon you,
The Reverend Tanya R. Wallace, Rector
Letter from the Committee Chair
This Long Range Plan was developed between March and August by an ad hoc committee, announced by the rector at the 2010 Parish Annual Meeting, with broad involvement and guidance from the vestry and parishioners.
The purpose of this plan is, in its simplest term, intentionality. More specifically, it is to express the vision of where our parish desires to go over the next five years and some ways it may get there. It is important to note that it does not attempt to outline all the specific steps, resources, responsible parties, and timelines. The vestry, in collaboration with other parish stakeholders, must develop specific implementation plans, whether formal or informal, for the various strategic priorities and actions within this plan. The vestry will be responsible for reviewing progress annually and for modifying the plan as needed.
The development of this plan followed a process of formation, collection, discernment, and articulation. A diverse ten-member committee was called by the rector and chair to reflect on the assumptions, vision, mission, and core values underlying All Saints’ Church’s approach to its activities. The first meeting set the stage for a series of eight listening sessions where parishioners were invited to respond to eight questions about our faith community in which sixty-one individuals participated.
The committee next focused on the analysis of these responses, committee reflections, and the results of the 2008 Church Innovations and Congregational Discovery documentations. Six primary categories for core values where identified and presented to the vestry for consent to proceed.
Committee members were teamed and assigned to core values to begin pairing specific parishioner responses and committee reflections to five questions. What do we believe about this core value? What else do we want to say about this core value? What current groups/people/ ministries support this core value? What are we going to do in the next 5 years to strengthen core value? What are the obstacles to this core value?
The work of these teams were reviewed by the full committee and sent to the chair and rector for the writing process. They met throughout the summer to collaboratively expand the materials into narrative form, which was shared with committee members electronically for continuous feedback. A final committee meeting reviewed and approved the final plan to present to the vestry for adoption and implementation.
Quite often planners can anticipate much of what will go into a long range plan, however, the development process of the plan greatly helps to clarify the goals and ensure that key leaders are all on the same page. The long range planning process is far more important than the document itself.
It is our desire that this plan will result in the following benefits:
To clearly define our purpose and to establish realistic goals and objectives within our capacity for implementation.
To communicate those goals and objectives to our stakeholders.
To develop a sense of ownership of the plan.
To allow for the most effective use of our resources by focusing on key priorities.
To provide a base from which progress can be measured and establish a mechanism for informed change, if needed.
To listen to every one’s opinions in order to build consensus about where the parish is going.
To provide a clearer focus, thereby producing more efficiency and effectiveness.
To bridge staff, vestry, committees, and parishioners.
Greg A. Williams, committee chair
Letter from the Senior Warden
Dear Fellow Parishioners:
So now we have the map! On September 1, 2010, the vestry read, discussed and unanimously accepted the Long Range Plan you are holding. This Plan is actually a tiny bit of every member of All Saints’. You may recognize one or more ideas in the Plan that you initiated at one of the meetings held to get input from everybody.
The vestry will use this Plan in the coming years as a guide to where All Saints’ is going. It will be a source for ideas, projects and programs that all originated with our members. Most importantly, it will be the yardstick we use to measure our progress.
All Saints’ is being reenergized! Parts of this Plan have been implemented already and huge deficits such as Sunday School and Adult Formation are being reworked and new ideas put to work starting Sunday, September 19!
It is said, “the joy is in the journey.” So let us go forward with great joy and enthusiasm, knowing we have much to accomplish with the help of God and many hands! Let us use this Plan wisely.
Rene Beauchemin, Senior Warden
Always seeking to know Christ, live Christ, and make Christ known to all people.
To Welcome ~ To Worship ~ To Learn ~ To Serve ~ To Give ~ To Connect
Establish a parish culture where all are truly welcomed and all are truly welcoming
Eliminate barriers to worship and gather all at God’s table
Nurture our children and youth in the Christian faith and life
Support and sustain our adult members on lifelong faith journeys
Care for parishioners through crisis, celebration, and daily life through a program of Simple Presence
Organize outreach efforts into an intentional outreach ministry through a program of Simple Gifts
Increase awareness of and commitment to the call to Presence
Increase awareness of and commitment to the call to Participation
Increase awareness of and commitment to the call to Pledge
Build relationships among churches, towns and Mount Holyoke College
Increase membership and attendance through participation in church and in the community
We believe in God who welcomes unconditionally, and who calls all Christians to be welcoming in Christ’s name. We enjoy the diversity inherent in God’s people and understand that to be truly welcoming is to be open to being changed by others. We commit to sustaining a spirit of openness that makes All Saints’ Church a place to belong, whoever you are, just as you are.
We believe worship of God is the core of our life in community. We provide opportunities for devotion that are relevant and current, while honoring the deep and abiding liturgical traditions of the Episcopal Church. We commit to gathering around the altar and, sustained by the Eucharist, living out the dismissal’s demand to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
We believe lifelong Christian formation nurtures the interior life and sustains us on the journey. We understand our Anglican heritage of honoring Scripture, Tradition, and Reason as one that values questions over easy answers. We commit to equipping the community to engage, learn, and grow by offering vibrant educational opportunities for all ages.
We believe Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves embodies a call to service. We care for each other, whether within or outside of our walls, and strive to bring the love of God to all people. We value and support lay leadership, strong involvement, and interactive participation of our members, and commit to serving each other and the greater community.
We believe in a generous God who gives us time, abilities, and material resources, and who calls us to share these gifts — by addressing the needs of the poor, advocating for the creation of a just society, proclaiming the Good News and promoting peace, and wisely using the natural resources of God’s creation. We participate in the great gift-giving cycle: we receive all things from God; we use and maintain them; we give back to God and to others in gratitude and generosity. We commit to purposeful stewardship as a parish and in our individual lives.
We believe the bridge of searching and service that has long connected All Saints’ Church, Mount Holyoke College, and the Town of South Hadley calls us to be leaders in building and sustaining relationships across societal barriers. We embrace our founding as an Episcopal center for college women, and our roots in the center of town; we dedicate ourselves to being actively involved in the community. We commit to utilizing a wide range of communication vehicles that will enable increased visibility and access, enabling deeper relationships, and enriching the minds and the souls of all who seek meaning and hunger for God.
STRATEGIC PRIORITIES and ACTIONS
Our first core value calls us to a ministry of welcome. Whether one is searching and seeking meaning, lonely and seeking companionship, grieving and seeking solace, celebrating and seeking community, questioning and seeking answers, broken and seeking healing, content and seeking challenge, wandering and seeking God, this church opens wide its doors and bids welcome. All Saints’ Church strives to be a welcoming, diverse, caring community where all people are embraced, newcomers find a home, and abiding relationships are formed and sustained.
There are many ways people become connected to the All Saints’ community; most enter through worship on Sunday mornings. Newcomers to worship are greeted by ushers, welcomed by the Rector during the announcements, asked to fill out newcomers’ cards, greeted enthusiastically during the peace, invited to the table during the Eucharist, encouraged to attend coffee hour, introduced to the Rector at the door, and, when a newcomers’ card is received, contacted personally by the Rector.
We endeavor to acknowledge that while our initial welcoming is strong and sincere, there are challenges in moving toward incorporation into the life of the community; we further endeavor to bridge this gap.
❖ Strategic Priority: To establish a parish culture where all are truly welcomed and all are truly welcoming
Action: We will create a welcoming committee.
Action: We will establish formal processes for newcomer incorporation, including reaching out to visitors and finding ways to involve them immediately in activities and encouraging continuing visitors to become members, guiding them through the path to membership, and integrating them into the church community.
Action: We will develop an updated pictorial directory, and consider the use of name tags, photo bulletin boards, and other avenues for pairing faces with names.
Action: We will increase education around hospitality and diversity and teach specific methods for being welcoming as individuals and as a community.
Action: We will establish and make available literature, directories, and guides to ease the process of getting involved.
Action: We will pay attention to the language we use (narthex, Rite II, coffee hour) and develop more welcoming and accessible alternatives.
Action: We will expand fellowship offerings such as small groups and foyers, creating opportunities for connecting outside of worship and committee meetings.
Action: We will offer welcome specific to Mount Holyoke College, coordinating with the academic calendar and upholding various opportunities to connect with students, families and alumnae.
Our second core value calls us to a ministry of worship and prayer. In its liturgical life, All Saints’ Church invites all to join together in acknowledging the holiness and unconditional love of God, hearing God's Word, offering prayer, and celebrating the sacraments. In a spirit of openness to God and with each other, we appreciate and explore a variety of ways to gather in community. We value music as an integral path to God. We are deeply committed to making sustaining connections between worship and everyday life, so that those who gather around the altar find solace and strength, pardon and renewal.
Our worship is supported by the work of many lay ministers. Adults, teens, and children serve as readers, ushers, acolytes, and oblation bearers, as members of the choir, contemporary music group and children’s choir, as altar guild and flower guild members, as Eucharistic ministers and healing ministers, as hosts for coffee hour and other special receptions. Vibrant, God-centered worship inspires and sustains ordained and lay ministers and brings more volunteers into these rewarding and essential positions.
We endeavor to offer and celebrate Christ-centered worship so that seekers experience welcome and all are nourished as we stand in the presence of the living God for the life of the world. This worship, owned and participated in by all at different levels, embraces a range of expression from the intimate to the transcendent.
❖ Strategic Priority: To eliminate barriers to worship and gather all at God’s table
Action: We will teach our worship tradition with regular articles, offerings, and discussion for parishioners, using a variety of media as vehicles for liturgical education, in a way that will increase access and enable enrollment of new liturgical lay leaders and participants.
Action: We will evaluate current service times and, working with those providing Sunday educational opportunities, explore alternatives with an eye toward accessibility.
Action: We will make worship more accessible by using available and new technology, specifically by offering MP3 recordings of the weekly sermon on the All Saints’ website, and by training lay visitors to bring the Eucharist to those who are unable to attend services.
Action: We will create ways to incorporate children more fully into the later Sunday service, so that every Sunday is indeed “Family Sunday.”
Action: We will celebrate musical diversity and strive to support current and new musical offerings as an enhancement of worship.
Action: We will support the healing team in creating regular opportunities to experience healing prayer in the midst of Sunday services.
Action: We will encourage additional voices in worship, such as lay preachers, graduating seniors, and outside speakers who connect with our outreach ministries, to help sustain the connection inside and outside our doors.
Our third core value calls us to a ministry of education and Christian formation. All Saints’ Church is committed to providing ways for children and adults of all ages to deepen their faith and relationship with God through Church School, various adult formation programs, and ongoing fellowship groups such as the Youth Group, the Men’s Group and the Women’s Group. Offering nursery care for the littlest members, fun and nurturing Church School classes for children from preschool through high school, and various adult learning opportunities on a variety of topics, the educational programs provide a place for all seekers to explore questions of faith in community. Confirmation classes for youth and Inquirers’ Classes for adults help to prepare members of the community for the reaffirmation of their baptismal vows. Special programs including Ecumenical Vacation Choir Camp, Nooma, and the use of the labyrinth support the spiritual journey.
We endeavor to engage all people, regardless of their background or level of experience, in a vibrant program of Education for All Ages, to support connection to a caring community, the deepening of faith, and lifelong spiritual development.
❖ Strategic Priority #1: To nurture our children and youth in the Christian faith and life
Action: We will offer Church School classes at an earlier time on Sunday mornings, allowing for longer classes, increased teacher participation, and better integration of young people in the life of the parish.
Action: We will create literature outlining the developmental milestones and the ways that our children’s programs support them.
Action: We will hire Mount Holyoke students to provide consistent nursery care and free our youth to be part of parish life on Sunday mornings.
Action: We will develop and offer a comprehensive youth program to incorporate education, formation, service, pilgrimage, and confirmation preparation.
Action: We will create a Communion class to teach baptism as an integral step of membership, increase learning about communion, and prepare young people for receiving the Sacrament intentionally.
Action: We will teach and follow Safe Church procedures, and publicize our commitment to compliance and the care for our most vulnerable members.
❖ Strategic Priority #2: To support and sustain our adult members on lifelong faith journeys
Action: We will create an Adult Formation Committee to plan and oversee educational and fellowship opportunities for adults.
Action: We will offer a weekly Adult Forum on a wide variety of topics, to be run concurrently with the Church School, to draw people from each of the two Sunday morning services into a shared experience of learning in community.
Action: We will reestablish Education for Ministry classes within the parish.
Action: We will develop, support and offer one-time and ongoing formation through book groups, Bible studies, workshops, spiritual spa days, Nooma sessions, and the use of the labyrinth.
Action: We will establish an annual All Saints’ Quiet Day on the first Saturday in November, to be led by various nationally-known teachers and to be offered to the parish, the Greater South Hadley Community, and the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.
Action: We will encourage and support multiple small group opportunities for faith formation, offered within the parish or on an ecumenical level, engaging resources from the local community and Mount Holyoke when appropriate.
Our fourth core value calls us to a ministry of service. All Saints’ Church has a long history of faithful and generous outreach and inreach. We serve our neighbors, whether local or international, through various feeding ministries, fundraisers and volunteer opportunities. We serve our parishioners through fellowship and deep pastoral care.
Simple Gifts is a new umbrella group working to coordinate and organize the many outreach activities sponsored by All Saints’ Church. Several organizations and individuals within our church provide Christian service and contribute to outreach, whether on their own or through parish activities. Through the Lenten Lunch series, the Columbus Day Fair, the Strawberry Festival, the Gleaning Project, the Angel Tree, the Murder Mystery Dinner and other events -- formal and informal -- the parish gathers people in community, increases awareness of need, and raises funds and provides donated items for agencies such as Episcopal Relief and Development, Habitat for Humanity, Westfield Youth Correctional Center, Heifer Project International, Kate’s Kitchen, the Bishop’s Alleluia Fund, Council on Aging, and Meal on Wheels.
Pastoral care is provided to parishioners and shut-ins by the Rector and various members of the parish. Some parishioners take time to visit shut-ins and drive them to church and appointments. There is a monthly service held at Loomis Village for its residents. Parish groups provide pastoral care for one another when a member is sick or needs meals or rides. Home cooked meals are lovingly prepared and available to be delivered to anyone known to be in need.
We endeavor to increase the organization of both inreach and outreach. Ease of access, better communication, and an increased number of trained volunteers will allow for a strengthened program of pastoral care, to be called Simple Presence. The ongoing development of the Simple Gifts project will support individual outreach efforts and augment the organization of an intentional outreach ministry.
❖ Strategic Priority #1: To care for parishioners through crisis, celebration, and daily life through a program of Simple Presence
Action: We will create a ministry team to work with the Rector in coordinating pastoral care ministries, increasing awareness, and developing avenues for communication.
Action: We will recruit and train Lay Eucharistic Visitors to assist in bringing the Eucharist to those who are unable to attend church.
Action: We will evaluate and expand past and current ministries, such as the phone tree, the prayer list, the prayer shawl ministry, and the home cooked meals.
Action: We will collaborate with the Healing Team and consider supporting a formal Health Ministry.
❖ Strategic Priority #2: To organize outreach efforts into an intentional outreach ministry through a program of Simple Gifts
Action: We will support the Simple Gifts project in its developing organizational structure.
Action: We will increase intentionality in our decisions about outreach events, and we will increase visibility and access to these events for all who want to serve.
Action: We will incorporate outreach into worship and fellowship events by inviting representatives from agencies and constituent groups, increasing parishioners’ awareness of need, and corresponding opportunities for response.
Action: We will increase education around outreach and its spiritual and theological underpinnings and implications.
Action: We will strive to understand outreach in the context of social justice, seeking always to address both daily need and the systems that perpetuate need.
Our fifth core value calls us to a ministry of stewardship. Giving back to God a measure of what we have received involves purposeful commitment. Money is pledged to support the church facilities, its people, its programs, and its outreach ministries. Participation by giving time and using talents enables us to embody our priorities. We strive to embrace with gratitude all that with which God entrusts us, and to understand God’s call in our giving back. We participate in environmental stewardship, caring for God’s gift of creation.
Our formal stewardship structure, which operates year-round, begins with the Stewardship Committee which organizes the pledge drive, solicits assessments of time and talents, and educates the parish about proportional giving. The Finance Committee prepares the yearly budget and keeps track of running expenses. The Treasurer does the day-to-day work of collecting money and paying the bills. The Vestry approves the budget and oversees spending patterns. The Property Committee cares for the buildings and grounds. All of these groups work together to maintain a healthy parish and its programs. Informally, we share our time and personal gifts by attending worship and events, volunteering for programs and committees, caring for each other when needs arise, sharing our talents and encouraging others to try new things, and approving the use of our facilities for community needs.
We endeavor to increase commitment to the parish by teaching faithful stewardship as a way of life, encouraging every person to understand God’s call to us as individuals and as a community. Individuals should understand that the practice of living with ongoing deficit budgets is unsustainable, pledges must be increased to sustain the parish and its programs, proportional giving needs to become a central part of our teaching, and commitment to the parish on all levels through Presence, Participation, and Pledge (“the Three Ps”) should be shared as a central component of membership.
❖ Strategic Priority #1: To increase awareness of and commitment to the call to Presence
Action: We will increase the presence of parishioners at worship and events by teaching the Three Ps, increasing understanding of membership expectations, and supporting people as they strive to commit to the parish community.
Action: We will increase the stewardship of our space by updating and implementing our space use policy to allow for the intentional sharing of our facilities for community needs.
Action: We will increase the stewardship of the Earth by making sound decisions with regard to energy use, recycling, consumption, and sustainable practices.
❖ Strategic Priority #2: To increase awareness of and commitment to the call to Participation
Action: We will develop a parish culture of participation, commitment, and caring for others by holding talent fairs/assessments, publicizing opportunities for volunteering, and creating gifts discernment processes to help people learn how best to connect.
Action: Periodically, we will reassess our collective wealth of talent and time by reeducating ourselves in the development of Holy Habits.
❖ Strategic Priority #3: To increase awareness of and commitment to the call to Pledge
Action: We will reestablish a well-defined, year-round Stewardship Ministry Team to teach effective and faithful stewardship in church and at home, and to ensure the parish’s financial health as it lives out its mission and values in the greater South Hadley community.
Action: We will engage a stewardship consultant as needed to support the work of the Team and the establishment of a parish program.
Action: We will take active steps toward the goal of a yearly balanced budget.
Our sixth core value calls us to a ministry of connection. Christian communities must be leaders in breaking down societal barriers and in establishing relationships among seemingly disparate people, groups, ideas, and ideals. In a world that is increasingly divided and damaged, hostile and hurried, All Saints’ Church has the opportunity to speak the truth in love, to model alternative priorities, and to draw the community together in the name of healing and wholeness.
Connection is about partnering with the town and surrounding areas, with other faith communities, and with Mount Holyoke College. We value current connections through ecumenical partnerships, from our history of relationship with the college and the students, faculty and staff who attend worship, and in our many personal relationships with local leaders.
Connection is also about communication; to connect with each other we must be able to communicate who we are and what we offer, and to join in conversation with others. Our current communications are supported by the website, an e-mail list, a Facebook group, outside signage, bulletin boards, a phone tree, the answering machine, Sunday morning announcements, The Compass, and the weekly service bulletin.
We endeavor to be faithful and responsible members of the communities we serve, to embrace our roots and accept our vocation, to grow numerically and spiritually, and to live from an understanding that no one group is as strong as when it joins with others.
❖ Strategic Priority #1: To build relationships among churches, towns, and Mount Holyoke College
Action: We will be leaders in responding to community need by offering opportunities for gathering, prayer, healing, and hope.
Action: We will partner with other faith communities in offering large ecumenical events such as Palm Sunday worship and the blessing of the animals.
Action: We will participate in civic events such as the Columbus Day Fair, and we will create community-wide events such as the Strawberry Festival.
Action: We will design and carry out more musical, educational, and social events that will attract and support the greater South Hadley community and those from the college.
Action: We will create opportunities for gathering Mount Holyoke College students outside of worship, for fellowship, service, and/or support.
❖ Strategic Priority #2: To increase membership and attendance through participation in church and in the community
Action: We will consolidate or streamline all communication decisions to a small group of three or four individuals and create a communication plan.
Action: We will create a powerful, informative, and interactive website that can use all forms of modern communication to share the message, such as discussion forums, a message board, a calendar of events, individual blogs, MP3 sermons, links to additional information, e-mail groups, our history, and outlines of our services, pointing people in the right direction when help is needed.
Action: We will update our phone tree for non-web subscribers and incorporate a link in the phone tree to sync up with the e-mail group.
Action: We will implement a small digital recording device so sermons can be uploaded online allowing those who cannot attend church the opportunity to connect.
Action: We will create an easy process for advertising on local public access televisions channels, and with radio stations, newspapers and various other media.