Our Charge Conference (annual meeting) was earlier this week. Here is Pastor Bo’s Pastor Report for 2020.
Vermont Hills UMC
Rev. Bo C. Sanders
This has been a year of adjustment and flexibility for everyone. Vermont Hills has shown an exceptional ability to change and adjust to the unique circumstances that have come up this year. We recognized early on in the Covid-crisis that many of the adjustments we had made over the past 3 years as a congregation gave us a built-in advantage for surviving and even thriving in these uncertain times.
Over the past 3 years we have become a conversational community – we call it interactive church – and this situated us relatively well for the challenges that quarantine would pose. We were able to adjust to an online digital version of our worship gatherings, spiritual practices, and other activities in a relatively seamless way. Participation continues to be strong and we have been able to connect with each other in a spiritual significant way.
We have settled in to a 4 times a week routine of prayer (utilizing protestant prayer beads), Bible study, Sunday School (aka BrainStorming), and an online worship gathering Sunday mornings. It has not been easy but many of our members have helped our older or more technologically challenged members to connect in this new way. They have also continued to reach out to those who don’t connect online and to stay in touch with those who might otherwise feel disconnected. Giving has stayed strong (relatively) and with the reduction of our campus expenses, we look to be in a good financial state for the remainder of this quarantine period as we begin to re-imagine life together.
The first 3 months of 2020 were an exciting time of outreach and discernment together. We invested in a rebranding and advertising campaign that bodes well for the next 5 years of this congregation’s life. We added new members, integrated new committee participation, and continued to strengthen our ongoing partnership with amazing organizations in our community. We had begun utilizing the New Parish model of Inhabit NW and were learning new ways of connecting with our neighborhoods with the love of Christ. There is every reason to think that we not only survive Covid but will be prepared to re-engage in these life giving and kin-dom building relationships and activities when we re-emerge into the new normal.
I am hopeful that Vermont Hills UMC will play an important role in the life of this community and its ongoing partnerships with ministries and organizations in the years to come. We have an extraordinary group of people who have integrated new members while providing continuity of ministry for long-term participants. I am so grateful this group of people and their spiritual maturity to see through these trying time and show resolve in the face of our current challenges.
Just before this crisis began we had a communal conversation and settled on 7 priorities that we are committed to investing in. We are dedicated to:
We feed by partnering with groups like Produce for People at our onsite community garden and the Backpack ministry to Hayhurst School. We build with Habitat for Humanity. We house with Family Promise. We welcome by partnering with groups focused on immigration issues. We connect through our New Parish model in Inhabit PDX. We advocate for LGBTQ inclusion as a Reconciling Church. We worship as a conversation community as an interactive church. Each of these areas has a team that (and a point person) that helps keep us connected to what is going on and reports back to us how we can participate as a congregation.
I look forward to partnering together as we re-imagine life together in the near future.
- Pastor Sanders