Latest Update From the Pre-School Team

imagesGreetings, People of Luther Memorial,

As you know, LMC’s Preschool Team has been exploring the possibility of a joint mission venture at Luther Memorial with Pilgrim Lutheran Church.  As part of this venture, we’ve been floating feelers throughout the congregation at various times, including a summer 2014 survey and some intentional conversation at the autumn 2014 cottage meetings.

In addition to this, the Preschool Team set out a schedule of planned steps to be taken in early 2015 to see if a preschool is, in fact, feasible at Luther Memorial.  These steps included continued conversation with Pilgrim over covenant terms, city and state inspections of our facilities and proposed upgrades, and internal discussion reflecting on the feedback we heard at the cottage meetings, congregational meeting, and through the summer survey.

Conversation, while mostly positive, has revealed that LMC is not of one mind on the idea of a preschool at this time.  This is expected.  A venture of this nature and of this scope will require long conversations and clarity to make happen. Even then we expect that not everyone will be on the same page.

Our goal as a team has been to investigate the possibility with an open mind and heart, allowing the Spirit to move freely even as we listen carefully to one another.

Here are the things that we do know:

– From our internal survey in the summer of 2014, the majority of respondents would be interested in having a preschool at LMC, and would refer a friend.

– With the closing of Waters and Coonley preschools, even with the new opening of private preschools in the Ravenswood/Lincoln Square neighborhood, there is a need for affordable options for preschool aged children in our mission area.

– While LMC’s facilities do not currently meet all of the needs to immediately open a preschool, upgrades would neither be vast nor totally cost-prohibitive, especially if folded into a capital campaign.

– While some within LMC are concerned about space allocation for a preschool, the proposed spaces to be used are mostly unoccupied during school hours, and with the renovation of some other spaces within the church, could be made free.

– LMC passed all city and state inspections with a few, mostly minor, recommendations for improvement.

Here are a few things that are still unclear:

– Even with proposed full enrollment (for full-day schooling), could the increased operational costs be handled by LMC?

– What exactly would LMC receive from tuition for this venture?

And finally,

– Could the community get behind a mission/vision strategy, a capital campaign, and a campaign to start a preschool?

This last unknown is the sticking point for those of us on the Preschool Team.  Because we feel that proposing a preschool at LMC at this particular time will be a stumbling block for the upcoming capital campaign, we are recommending that the preschool discussions between LMC and Pilgrim be suspended for now.

We, as a team, feel it is important to remain in partnership with Pilgrim (and to increase our ministry collaboration with them).  We feel that we should remain open to this possibility for sometime in the future.  We also recognize that a campaign to start this venture is unwise with all that is currently happening at LMC.  It would distract rather than reinforce.

We feel confident that none of our work has gone to waste!  With the inspections from the city we received many good suggested upgrades to our current space.  Through our prayer and conversation we’ve seen new ways that we can partner with Pilgrim to do ministry in Chicago.  Through our dreaming as a team, we’ve gained a good sense of our space usage and areas that we are currently under utilizing.

This sort of ministry venture at Luther Memorial is new territory for our faith community. God calls us to ventures of which we cannot see the ending.  Though conversations are suspended at this time, the team does not feel this is the end of them, nor the end of dreaming how LMC can better serve God’s purpose for the city of Chicago.

Indeed, this is only the beginning as we discern how God is calling us to Rejoice, Reform, Renew, and Respond as a community!

LMC’s Proposed Emerging Vision and Action Plan

LMC Brown Line 4An Emerging Vision for Luther Memorial Church + May 2015

Luther Memorial’s vision for the future is to be a church that is continually REFORMING, RENEWING, RESPONDING, REJOICING. To identify and address priorities to grow our ministry, leaders have focused on these areas for our future:

REFORMING

We will articulate our LMC identity and vision so that our congregation and the community and will know who we are and how we will serve our neighbors.

Action items:

  • Strategize a plan for our future/vision/mission/facility –Council in process

-Brand our ministry (how we see ourselves and want to be seen, including guidelines for consistent messaging) so that we are known in our community as an open congregation welcoming all people without judgment (emphasis as an ELCA Reconciling in Christ congregation. –Planning phase

-Upgrade our facility to enable and support the ministries we envision (projects: kitchen, floors, offices, gym, roof, elevator, general updates, new space between buildings, parking)-Planning phase

-Audit neighboring churches to see how our identity is different-Mission and Vision Team in process

RENEWING

We will grow connections among members to engage a deeper sense of community and to facilitate faith formation for all ages and perspectives

  • Renewing Communication

-Develop a plan for communication within the church and the community by implement recommendations from Kairos Communication Audit-In process

Audit volunteers to determine who is volunteering and where-Planning phase

  • Renewing Faith

-Develop areas of ministry led by staff and lay leaders as congregation

grows  for Adult Ministry ( All ages:Singles/Couples with no children), Senior adult ministry and expanded Family Ministry (parents/children/youth)-In process

-Possibly look into hiring part-time staff or engage motivated lay persons to direct and make a road map for faith formation-Planning phase

  • Renewing Spirits

-Empower the congregation to identify spiritual gifts through a spiritual gift inventory with a flow plan to act on the gifts-Planning phase

-Possibly hire part-time staff or engage motivated lay persons (Community Enrichment Coordinator) to help match gifts with opportunities-Planning phase

RESPONDING

We will provide a clean and safe facility with efficient building use to provide services for those with needs

  • Identify and develop and strengthen  signature outreach project(s) for LMC

-Determine unmet needs in our community by conversations with community leaders and available data-Ongoing process

-Get the word out-Ongoing process

  • Reconcile People with Jesus Christ and One Another

-Partnerships with other churches and community organizations –In process

-Equip people to invite their friends, neighbors, coworkers and relatives to “Come and see” the resurrecting work of Jesus-Ongoing process

-Become an advocate for social justice issues for all neighbors-Ongoing process

-Embrace a ministry of reconciliation to bring people and groups into acceptance and unity through the power of Christ-Ongoing process

  • Deepen community outreach and connection to neighborhood

-Explore connection opportunities with the elementary school-planning phase

-Use our facility as a center for events/concerts/groups-Ongoing process

REJOICING

We will joyfully gather to praise God, and grow in faith through worship, study, and fellowship.

  • Create space to celebrate the community we have in Christ

-Acknowledge the mountain tops as well as the valleys of life-Ongoing process

-Stephen Ministries for support-In process

-All healing ministries of the church-Ongoing process

  • Celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

-Help the congregation connect to its heritage intentionally-Planning phase

  • Enhance worship experiences

-Improve space and technology capabilities-Planning phase

-Develop an engaging fellowship time with educational opportunities-In process

Vision Statement: Transforming Chicagoland in Christ’s name as a Reforming, Renewing, Responding, and Rejoicing community of faith.

Mission Statement: “We reach people with the Gospel by reforming ourselves and the world around us, renewing our faith and supporting others on their faith journey, responding to our neighbor through service and advocacy, and rejoicing in the love of God shown through Christ in engaging worship.”

Mission and Vision: A Proposed Path Forward as a Reforming, Renewing, Responding and Rejoicing Faith Community!

LMC Brown Line 4

This is not a new logo. This is an internal graphic that will help us visualize the “stops” we make as individuals of faith, and a community of faith. This is what we do in our part of Chicago between Western and Rockwell!

People of God at LMC,

At a retreat in the summer of 2014, LMC’s council resolved to be proactive in tackling our growth. People are coming through our doors and we need to have plans and processes in place that not only welcome them but also connect us all together. We convened cottage meetings in the autumn to start a congregation-wide conversation about who we are and where we are going as a faith community. We heard we’re ready for a new mission and vision. We are ready to tackle future growth proactively while also keeping faithful to the past of this sacred community.

In early 2015 the newly commissioned council started working our action plan. Taking the notes and discussion points from the cottage meetings, we set out to partner with Kairos and Associates (after a lengthy vetting process) to craft a new mission and vision that describes who we are while also leaning into who we want to be. We began dreaming about how our building and community would be able to live into this revised mission and future vision.

The newly created Mission and Vision Team convened in March. In meeting with David Misenheimer from Kairos, we quickly identified three major areas of focus: our identity (how we see ourselves and want others to see us), our connections (connections in the neighborhood as well as connections with God and one another), and our building (it matters that we have a building, and why location matters). Over the next month we sifted these three themes, coming up with action plans, good language, and sticky words to convey our thoughts.

We resolved that we will articulate our LMC identity and vision so that our congregation and community will know who we are and how we serve. What is our identity? Well, we are faith community from the Reformation tradition (we are Lutheran, after all). But more importantly, we are a welcoming community who meets people wherever they are on their faith journey. Could we re-brand ourselves to reflect this better? To make more witness to the idea that we’re a Reconciling in Christ congregation welcoming all without judgment in God’s love? We began to see we are continually Reforming and re-forming as people faith, even now looking to re-form our building to be more hospitable, and re-forming our community to include all.

We resolved that we will grow connections to engage a deeper sense of community and to facilitate faith formation for all ages and perspectives. As we’ve grown, we’ve outgrown many of the previous ways we disseminated information. A communications audit is now in process. In addition, we’ve outgrown the ability for everyone in the church to know one another intimately. There is a feeling we need a new center for making intentional connections not only between people, but also between people and their gifts and passions. Perhaps we look at commissioning a Community Enrichment Coordinator whose purpose would be to help the church do just this. We need more specialized faith programming: adult ministries for singles and doubles, senior ministries, and expanded ministries for families with children. Do we need staff to help here? In Renewing our processes and growth-in-faith activities, we renew the life of Christ within our community.

We resolved that we will provide a clean and safe facility with efficient building use to provide service for those with needs. Why does it matter that we have a building? Our worship space provides inspiration. But our building overall is not inspiring, and is past-due for upgrades. There are so many groups who use our building, both within the congregation and from the outside neighborhood. We are a community hub. And yet, our building is not the only thing that makes us a community hub. From the people within the church we find we are continually reconciling humanity in Christ’s name: reconciling the hungry with food and advocacy; reconciling racial, gender and sexual identities with one another through the love shown in Jesus; reconciling the impoverished and the wealthy through sharing of gifts. Our people are also inspiring, and we need to reflect that. Now is the time to embrace this part of ourselves through planned upgrades and a focus on service and advocacy so we can continue to be a community Responding to the needs of our neighbor.

We resolve that we will joyfully gather to praise God and grow in the Christian faith through worship, study, and fellowship. How can we be a community continually Rejoicing in God’s amazing love and grace?  How can we keep worship engaging, connecting the transcendent and the mortal in ways that inspire faith and love through music, word, and the arts? How can we continue to make our worship space hospitable through the use of media and design? How can we acknowledge our Lutheran lens while also opening ourselves up to the many traditions filling our pews on a Sunday morning?

Out of all of this we’ve discerned a vision and mission for the next five years of Luther Memorial Church of Chicago.

Vision Statement: Transforming Chicagoland in Christ’s name as a Reforming, Renewing, Responding, and Rejoicing community of faith.

Mission Statement: “We reach people with the Gospel by reforming ourselves and the world around us, renewing our faith and supporting others on their faith journey, responding to our neighbor through service and advocacy, and rejoicing in the love of God shown through Christ in engaging worship.”

The Mission and Vision Team feels confident these four words – Reforming, Renewing, Responding, and Rejoicing – not only describe us now, but also will be an identity to grow into. They are active words; words in process just as we are in process. These words are generative and re-generative: we form ourselves again and again (re-form), we are made new in faith again and again (re-new), we are tasked with the ability to help our neighbors again and again (respond), we are continually brought back to the joy found in the God seen through Jesus (rejoice).

They are the four stops that we, as a faith community, continue to take over and over again in between Western and Kedzie here in the city. This is Luther Memorial Church of Chicago.