About this document
Building on the success of the Listening Circles and our report-outs over the past three months, the Transition Team has been working on a 12-month plan of activities that we hope will enhance our understanding of who we are as the First Parish in Lincoln and who we want to be as we prepare to welcome a new settled minister. With guidance from Essential Partners, a consulting firm specializing in facilitating difficult conversations among communities of faith, we envision a process that will deepen our sense of identity as we build a foundation for members of a new Search Committee to be appointed in the Spring of 2020. Our plan is evolving and may be adjusted from time to time as we seek the greatest possible participation by parishioners. And, consistent with our commitment to openness, honesty and transparency, we will strive to keep everyone informed as we walk this journey together.
Structured small group conversations have proven to be a popular and effective way to strengthen relationships, to increase understanding of different points of view and to foster a greater sense of community. To build the congregation’s capacity for ongoing dialogue on weighty subjects, fifteen people from the Transition Team, Parish Committee, Deacons and a few others recently participated in a training workshop to learn a process known as Reflective Structured Dialogue, or RSD, which is used to facilitate challenging conversations around different points of view.
In response to feedback from some parishioners, the Transition Team will host two identical sessions in April, offering attendees the opportunity to converse openly and frankly about Manish’s ministry at First Parish as well as his “Passport” video recorded in Michigan. The first will be on Sunday, April 14th, after the service in the Stearns Room, and the second will be at 7:30 in an evening, the date and location to be announced. These will be a largely unstructured events in order to allow people time to voice their views and hear other perspectives as well.
At the urging of the Deacons and several other parishioners, the Transition Team will also offer opportunities for further dialogue in May. Entitled, “Can We Talk…?”, members of the Transition Team will host a number of small group sessions of up to eight people to talk about our individual spiritual journeys. Participants will be encouraged to share personal stories and spiritual perspectives that inform why they attend and belong to First Parish, and how and to what extent the church ministers to their spiritual needs.
Planning for the fall and winter will occur over the summer, as the Transition Team develops ideas for small and large group discussions that we be offered in the fall and winter of 2019-2020.
Fall is a time of renewed energy and excitement when many of us come back together again after a summer hiatus. Hoping to catch that wave, the Transition Team will begin leading the congregation through an exploration of our shared identity. We’ll start by becoming better acquainted with our history and our roots, after which we’ll focus on our current strengths and weaknesses as a congregation. The First Parish certainly has characteristics and achievements about which we can be justifiably proud, but by the same token, we know there are aspects of our church life that could be improved upon to better serve the greater good, not to mention the relationship we want to have with a settled minister and each other. Looking at everything openly and honestly, we hope to address not only our core values, but also our vision and mission to test whether they truly reflect who we are and want to become. Finally, we think it will be important to explore if and how First Parish wants to relate to the wider community of Lincoln, the surrounding towns and neighboring communities as well as Boston and the wider world.
Winter 2019/Spring 2020
The work of self-reflection and exploration in the fall and winter will help form the basis upon which to develop a profile of our church, a necessary component required by both denominations prior to embarking on a formal ministerial search. If we feel it necessary, we may also sponsor a survey to gather quantitative data to supplement what we’ve learned in all the conversations and dialogues over the previous twelve months, and all of this will be shared, reviewed and discussed with the congregation prior to finalizing the church profile. In addition to increasing our collective self-awareness as a community of faith throughout this entire interim period, our objective will be to provide an accurate profile of who we are that will help guide the members of the next Search Committee in their work.
The Search Committee will be formed in May or June of 2020. The Parish Committee is charged with determining the size of the committee as well as developing and sharing the process of exactly how the members will be selected. A fully detailed compensation package showing ranges for all salary and benefit considerations will be voted on by the congregation before the search starts in earnest.
The Transition Team will stay intact through June of 2021 when (hopefully) our new mister will be called by the congregation. Through it all, the focus by be on the revitalization of First Parish in Lincoln, so our new minister can be welcomed with enthusiasm and zest.