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Vision Team

The Vision and Discernment process raises both challenges and joys. The challenge is for us all to give these matters the priority it deserves—to think and pray and converse about them frequently and persistently. The joy was well expressed by our Listening Leaders who found it so encouraging to hear fellow members talk about the past and future of Eastern Avenue Church, whatever they said.


Our Listening Leaders’ conversations converged around the topics that we lay out below in 6 unique themes. Please note that these topics raise questions that we need to discuss over the next few months, not “conclusions” that the Vision Team has come to! Our job as a Team is not to “decide” things but to become servants of the process of discussion and discernment. The future that God promises for our church will become clear from the bottom up, in conversations that eventually lead to a consensus.

Relationships

From the Listening Leaders’ sessions, one of the two most valued points among Eastern Avenue members is relationships. Many commented on the richness and blessing of these relationships, not least in the care that people show for each other in seasons of crisis and at moments of celebration. Others, however, felt that relationships were difficult to form or ‘break into.’

Questions to Consider:

  • What is God up to by giving us such abundant relationships within our church community?

  • What is God teaching you about the church from the relationships you have with other Eastern Ave members, or that you see among other members?

  • What is God teaching us about extending hospitality with newer or less-connected church members?

  • What does it really mean to be an inclusive community, and how are we living that out in our relationships at church?

 

Worship

Worship is the other most highly valued quality at Eastern Avenue Church. Members who talked with the Listening Leaders said that their moving faith experiences happened more frequently in worship in music, preaching, communal prayer, and liturgical rhythms than anywhere else. And yet, there is an ongoing tension between head and heart, between intellectual and emotional emphases, in our values and experiences of worship. Some members’ desire for change in worship is matched by others’ anxiety about change.

Questions to Consider:

  • In what ways is God working through our worship services to bring us into a better understanding of who God is and what God is calling us to do in the world?

  • How is God calling Eastern Avenue to balance head (thinking), heart (feeling), and hands (doing) through worship? How might this help us engage more of God’s children in worship?

  • What do you find most meaningful in our worship together? 

 

Bilingual Ministry

Eastern’s Bilingual Ministry has been a piece of our congregational fabric for close to a decade.  As we look to the future, how do we as a whole community identify as a community of believers in worship, community, and relationship? The listening process revealed a strong sense of loyalty, gratitude, and identity among Hispanic members and those who are part of the bilingual worshipping community at Eastern. These individuals communicated their strong identification as members of Eastern Ave CRC.

Questions to Consider:

  • What is your most vivid memory/experience with or in Eastern’s Hispanic community?

  • What is God up to in this bil-lingual, multi-cultural ministry?

  • How are bilingual worship services a blessing to you at Eastern?

  • In what ways does our community sense God’s call to this ministry?

  • What is your prayer for this ministry?

*This video is presented in Spanish; to view the English subtitles, click the "cc" button the video screen.

 

Our Neighborhood

Eastern Avenue Church has been blessed by God to minister on the corner of Eastern and Logan for more than 140 years. Over this time, the community has changed considerably – more than once! Today we live among some long-standing neighbors, many generations deep, and have partnerships with firmly rooted community organizations and ministries. We also see new tides: gentrification and community revitalization in the neighboring business district on the one hand, and the affordable housing being erected along the Eastern corridor on the other. At the same time, Baxter continues to be a community with higher than average rates of crime and poverty.

Questions to Consider:

  • In what ways has God called us to be a missional church in our neighborhood?

  • In what ways is God calling us into the future as partners amid change?

  • What is God up to, introducing all of these new neighbors across Eastern, along Wealthy, and throughout the Baxter neighborhood?

 

Our Life Together

Within, but also well beyond the listening process, some real Pain Points emerged about our congregational life, including challenges in leadership, the departure of some members, issues involving transparency and conflict management, and concerns about program priorities (such as youth ministries, outreach ministries and pastoral care). 

Questions to Consider:

  • If these (or other) pain points have been real for you at EACRC, how have you sensed God’s direction in addressing or managing these challenges?

  • How has God led us as a congregation through these challenges so far?

  • What changes might God be calling us to make in response to these challenges, and what values would God have us uphold and maintain going forward?

 

LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Many participants in the listening process highlighted Eastern becoming an affirming, inclusive body of believers toward our LGBTQ+ siblings in Christ as an important issue. The Vision Team is not being asked to help shape policy or program on this front, but affirms the parallel process that is now underway in the congregation via our SALT team and their efforts regarding this significant issue, and the vision process  will align with it as is appropriate. 

February 6, 2022 Town Hall

We met in person and via Zoom as a congregation, joining the Vision and Discernment team and Rev. Dr. Pat Kiefert from Church Innovations for a time of Q&A and reflections. A recording of this meeting can be found below. 

 
 

March 6, 2022 Corporate

Spiritual Discernment Event

We met in person and via Zoom as a congregation to hold a Conversation that Listens to God. Spiritual Discernment is making time and space to listen to how God is calling us. Many people do spiritual discernment in their personal prayer life. Congregations do it collectively as they consider what God might be calling them to be within God's mission. 

We used this handout to guide our conversation.