Prospect United Methodist Church

Our Path Forward
2018

In 2010 we kicked off a Capital Campaign to fund a building initiative under the theme of "Preserving Our Past While Building Our Future". The building improvements were completed in 2012.

While the physical structure is certainly important as it is our mission base for Prospect's future, we challenged ourselves in 2017 to consider church life, vitality and effectiveness in carrying out the mission of the United Methodist Church...with the future in mind...and also staying aligned with Prospect's Vision, Mission and Goals.

In Fall of 2017 the leadership team launch an initiative to dive deeper to help us discern our best path forward building on where we are today, with the focus on 4 areas: Church Vitality, Effectiveness, Long-term Viability and for All Age Groups. Anne Hartley, working with a diverse team and in collaboration with church leadership, led this initiative.

We named this 2017 initiative theme: "Expanding Christ's Love to All Generations". The scope of the initiative work included significant research, observation, analysis, dialog (inside and outside the church), validation, alignment with related UMC initiatives and a high-level assessment of our current state. Deliverables included a proposed Path Forward vision framework with four (4) strategies and tools to help guide us as we define our path forward -- and Prospect's Future vision box -- with a preliminary list of opportunities we might consider.

This forward-looking focus by Prospect is very much in line with Equipping Vital Congregations, Rethink Church, Equipping Discipleship, NOW Ministries and H.O.P.E Framework -- all within the global United Methodist Connection, in particular, with the Farmville District and Virginia Conference (Prospect's home in the connection).

Our Path Forward also positions Prospect to be aligned with Bishop Lewis' 2020 disciple-formation directive as she describes in her 2017 Annual Conference Reflections: "Our ministry vision for the Virginia Annual Conference is to be Disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve. All United Methodist churches in Virginia will have a process of intentionally forming disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by their influence and their acts of servanthood by 2020."

Any time you embark on a journey that encompasses the idea of change and new thinking, it takes time to percolate, pray about it and get hearts and minds aligned to move forward together. As we approached the 2018 Lenten season, that seemed like the perfect time (and leadership was ready) to share the proposed Path Forward with the Congregation for reflection, feedback for consideration and then ultimately commitment. Ideally we wanted to feel ready to consecrate our commitment to Prospect's future on Easter Sunday.

On the first Sunday in Lent, February 18, we introduced the Path Forward Vision framework that was further refined during Lent -- and also Prospect's Future vision box (crafted by Chris Ruch).This visible channel of communication is a symbol that the voice and participation of an inspired, equipped and unified Congregation is key to a vibrant future.

We did it! Based on the conversations and
feedback during Lent, his personal reflection
and prayerful consideration, Rev. Ken felt that he was ready to consecrate our commitment to God on Easter Sunday.

Please listen to his remarks and prayer of consecration.

Since Easter, we are taking steps to better understand what the impacts and implications are for our Path Forward and how best to adapt as we move forward together.

While our underlying approach builds on all of the positives we have today,
it also encourages new thinking, expanded training for leadership and administration, leadership and laity development, best practice guidelines and other UMC-aligned resources -- fine-tuned, as appropriate, for Prospect's journey forward.

A key ministry strategy of Our Path Forward is
more robust Small Group Ministries
and that is where Rev. Ken has asked us to focus initially -- to expand upon what we have -- in new directions and for all age groups. Click here to learn more about Small Group Ministries and our focus.

If you have any questions about Our Path Forward, please feel free to reach out to Rev. Ken (434-955-0253) or Anne Hartley (919-602-5012).

Note from Anne: I wish to thank all who contributed to the initiative work: it was invaluable in many ways. It is my hope that Our Path Forward platform and guidelines will be a valuable resource for the church and its evolution over time.