by Rev. Mary L. Janz
During the past four months, a number of indicators have pointed to a refocusing for FaithWorks. Co-champions, Pastor Mary and Pastor Steve, in one-on-one conversations with clergy and lay leaders, have observed that there is currently little buy-in for the initial idea of overall merger of the FaithWorks congregations. On the other hand, new conversations are surfacing regarding a different model for a proposed FaithWorks food pantry being proposed for the Atonement site. Further conversations around church/school connections are showing promise as Higher Expectations has invited us to the table to help launch a community-wide effort in these school partnerships. There have been conversations with synod and national leaders about next steps, and it is still to be determined whether there will be ELCA funding for FaithWorks for 2015.
Recognizing the shift that is taking place and not wanting to exhaust the FaithWorks funds in the meantime, Pastor Steve and Pastor Mary have made some temporary decisions regarding their roles. As of December 1, Pastor Steve will step down from his position, and the FaithWorks Bible studies will end for the time being. Pastor Mary will continue as the interim leader of FaithWorks through the end of January, and she has requested that her compensation and time be cut to half of what it has been since she officially assumed that role in mid August.
During the next couple of months it will be the responsibility of the FaithWorks Mission Council to write a revised covenant to be presented to congregations for approval at their January annual meetings. Work is currently in progress, and the goal is to reduce the length of the current covenant, making it so concise that it will fit on one printed page.
Initial conversation indicates that there will be a strong focus on doing mission collaboratively and that anti-racism training be an expectation of FaithWorks leaders and congregations. A draft will be presented to the FaithWorks Mission Council for review at their December 9 meeting.