St. James’s Episcopal Church

Not to be served, but to serve

Living Stones: A Strategic Plan 2010-2013

“…Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

[1 Peter 2:5]

OPPORTUNITY AND CHALLENGE

St. James’s is in the midst of a transforming its parish facilities, replacing an old parish house with a welcoming, all-accessible, green-certified new one which will center around a renewed and redesigned garden.  The new parish house will have an entrance opposite the main West Door of the church on Massachusetts Ave and occupy much of the first floor of new building which will also include 46 condominium residences.  St. James’s will receive a share of the condominium sales proceeds which it has committed in large part to the care and restoration of the historic sanctuary.

The clergy, Vestry and lay leadership of St. James’s seek to embrace the full breadth of renewed mission made possible by God’s gift of this new facility. During the next three years, we see a fresh potential to let ourselves be built into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, ready to reach out, expand our congregation, and engage new mission.

In this time of transition, the clergy, Vestry and lay leadership of St. James’s also sees the inherent challenges as old buildings are demolished, new ones are constructed, new neighbors move in, and the congregation begins its next generation of service to God in the new facility.

As St. James’s continues in its longstanding commitment maintaining our parish life and mission at the corner of Massachusetts Ave and Beech St. in Cambridge, MA, we commit ourselves to the renewal of our ministry in four critically important areas.  As we meet these opportunities and challenges we pledge to:

 

GOAL ONE

Connect and reconnect to maintain and strengthen

congregational hospitality, fellowship and formation

 

Our first baptismal vow is to follow the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers.  Spiritual formation and fellowship, like worship, lie at the heart of our lives and service as Christians.  They are the font from which our energies and guidance flow.  In a culture of hyperactivity like that in Cambridge, the cultivation of the practices and relationships needed to sustain this goal take special intentionality, strategic planning, and commitment.

We intend to reach this goal through

1)      Establishing a year-round calendar of church school and formation activities for all ages, including:

a)      Offering regular and structured baptism training and support

b)     Improving our Nursery utilization and support for special events

c)      Hosting Young Families events for spiritual support & fellowship

d)     Sponsoring Upper and Lower Church School teacher recruitment and training

e)      Holding monthly Youth Group meetings

f)       Organizing Young Adult Ministry monthly activities

g)     Encouraging Adult Formation by means of:

-- regular lay-led Bible Study,

-- lay- and clergy-led devotional opportunities,

-- Episcopalianism 101 for newcomers,

-- Sunday morning Gatherings on topical issues, with a special

focus on community-building amidst diversity

-- a lay-led, four-year in-depth Education for Ministry group,

-- annual Confirmation Class,

-- and a Lenten Offering on spiritual development.

2)      Cultivating a regular offering of Open Table fellowship, including prayer and structured spiritual conversation as well as fun & good food, with specific intent to cultivate spiritual companionship across our broad diversity of age, economic class, race, ethnicity, and gender orientation.

3)      Initiating a lay pastoral care ministry, including the Lay Eucharistic Visitors, with training and regular prayer-and-practicum meetings.

4)      Establishing a ministry team to create a structure for the development of ongoing small-group ministry at St. James’s.

 

GOAL TWO

Discern afresh the vital relationship between

our mission inward and our mission outward

 

Our invitation to new members into the Good News of God at St. James’s and our spreading of that Good News in service beyond our doors to the wider community are not two separate or competing goods – they are vitally connected.  People – especially the unchurched – long equally to encounter Christ in spiritual community and to see discipleship demonstrated in the work of compassion. We want to strengthen and grow our diverse community in ways that further God’s justice in the world. 

We intend to reach this goal through

1)      Renewing our Welcoming Ministry with particular focus on inviting

and integrating young adults into our ongoing fellowship and ministry.

2)      Deploying a diocesan Relational Evangelist under the Rev. Edwin Johnson’s supervision for the discernment of new opportunities for young-adult social justice ministry

3)      Improving our Communications Ministry, including our:

a)      social networking site

b)     publicity to the community for special events

c)      transparency and consistency of communications between parish leadership and congregation

4)      Exploring our new potential for ministry with:

a)      the emerging community of condominium owners with whom we will share the new building

b)     our Hispanic neighbors in Cambridge and Somerville.

 

GOAL THREE

Sustain our stewardship of people & programs,

encouraging, developing and supporting servant leaders

 

The whole Body of Christ sustains the life of service to which we are called in Christ.  Every member is critically important to the work, not just the clergy.  None of us can do the work alone, and the temptation is always to rely upon the few.  Moses called seventy elders, and still more were anointed by the Holy Spirit to join in the ministry.  We’re calling everyone to leadership and service.

We intend to reach this goal through

1)      Vestry assessment of viable and vital ministry program areas, and relinquishment of ministry efforts no longer well-supported by the congregation

2)      Clarifying each program area’s goals and the Vestry leadership structure to support those ministries

3)      Offering regular opportunities for congregation members to discern their gifts for ministry

4)      Recruiting and training new leadership in all areas of the ministry, but particularly in finance, teaching, welcoming, and liturgical ministry

5)     Deepening our prayer support of the whole ministry through regular prayer offerings, training in a variety of approaches to prayer, and a well-maintained, mutually supportive, well-publicized prayer chain.

 

GOAL FOUR

Sustain our stewardship of finances & buildings

 

These buildings of ours – old and new – are the crucible for a whole next generation of life in Christ at St. James’s.  We need to plan and steward carefully and responsibly to realize the full potential of God’s blessing of property for our ministry.

We intend to reach this goal through

1)      Short- and long-term planning for sustainability in parish finances,

Including:

a)      planning for endowment from the proceeds of condominium sales

b)     developing a comprehensive rental policy in preparation to occupy the new parish house

c)      establishing annual stewardship goals of

-- funding for increased training and curriculum for church school

and adult formation

-- establishing a fund for training in lay ministry and

 congregational development

-- increasing administrative and maintenance staff support to at

least half-time in each position to maintain building, rental, and parish program in the new facility

-- funding the Rev. Edwin Johnson’s successor from parish

            operating funds beginning in 2013

2)      Assessing urgent restoration needs in the sanctuary

3)      Mounting and completing a capital campaign to furnish the new parish house, meet the most urgent restoration needs in the sanctuary, and complement the new parish house and garden with new signage, new exterior lighting, and new landscaping along the sanctuary perimeter of Beech St. and Mass. Ave.