by Rev. Mary Janz
A group of approximately fifty FaithWorks members, including council members, lay leaders and pastors, came together April 25 and April 26 at the FaithWorks Leadership Retreat held at Atonement Lutheran Church.
FaithWorks is the partnership of the following ELCA Lutheran congregations in Racine: Atonement, Emmaus, Emaús, Our Savior’s and St. Andrew. The purpose of the retreat was to further develop relationships among FaithWorks members, clarifying and defining the FaithWorks vision as we work to move our vision into action, impacting the Racine community. Retreat facilitators were Rev. David Daubert, Rev. Sandy Chrostowski and Susan Gould.
The conversation on Friday night focused on what we believe the Lord is saying about FaithWorks and what God’s plan is for our congregations and the FaithWorks mission as a whole. Some good conversation centered around the need for further faith formation among adults so they may be prepared to share the faith with the next generations. Emphasis was also placed on the need for intentional listening and communication, both within our congregations and in the community at large.
On Saturday the conversation became more specific. The group split into two, FaithWorks North (St. Andrew, Emmaus and Emaús) and FaithWorks South (Our Savior’s and Atonement). Each group discussed specific, measurable goals for their congregations. Participants also discussed how individual congregational goals could be a part of the overall FaithWorks goals. For example, one item discussed was the potential sale of the Our Savior’s building. How could the sale of the building be used to further the FaithWorks mission? Other items discussed included acquiring a van for Atonement’s childcare ministry, the plans for a covenant between Our Savior’s and Atonement, and the need for a more organized education program for children and adults.
The northside congregations stressed the need to harmonize/integrate accounting and reporting practices. They also underlined the need for careful listening as the many proposed changes take place.
After much discussion, it was decided that. in order to truly move forward, a FaithWorks Director (Facilitator/Champion) needs to be brought on board. A team of lay leaders and pastors, led by Art Smith of Emmaus, will develop a job description and recommend appropriate compensation for this position. This role may be filled by someone already active in FaithWorks or by someone entirely new.
The retreat ended with groups gathering together to plan some potential FaithWorks events: a FaithWorks Fall Festival (set for September 7), service projects for the ELCA’s God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday (also September 7) and a possible new Vacation Bible School program.
The leaders left the retreat with a renewed sense of energy, ready to work together to do God’s work. Updates were shared the same weekend with the individual congregations following worship, and there is a commitment to keep communication open and timely.
Susan Gould, a consultant working closely with FaithWorks leaders, shared this quotation, which is so appropriate for our work together: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”