The Standing Commission for Small Congregations is composed of 11 members (representing the dioceses Navajoland, Southeast Florida, Kansas, Vermont, Northern Michigan, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, North Dakota, Spokane, Easton, and Louisiana.) Additionally, appointed members (with out vote) were present from the House of Deputies, Executive Council, and the Church Center. All in all, it was a Spirit-filled gathering of mission oriented church leaders that filled me with hope for our small churches.
During the meeting four goals were outlined for the next triennium. Specifically:
- Continued dialogue with the Church Pension Group re: church benefits and compensation for lay staff and clergy (esp. part time) and creating mechanisms to assist graduating seminary students with debt relief.
- Reporting on convergence of statistics on Status of Women and Small Congregations and leadership of lay and ordained women in small congregations to General Convention '09.
- Continue to share stories of vitality.
- Demonstrate a presence at General Convention '09 that moves the whole church beyond sympathy to action.
Means to achieve these goals include:
- Tools for publicity and evangelism in the small church.
- Tools for worship in small congregations.
- Tools to engage targeted constituencies.
- Networking with other CCABs.
- Support Church Center Staff with leadership training/dissemination of information to diocesan staff and parish laity and clergy with the above identified tools that encourage churches to grow spiritually/missionally, and sometimes in numbers, recognizing that many small churches are vital in place and size while other small churches can and want to grow in membership.
From you own small church experience, would you concur that these goals and means reflect the most pressing needs and concerns of the small congregation? Why or why not?