On the weekend of January 11 and 12, our Board of Elders gathered to assess the mission and work of South Meridian and consider what need to be some of the priorities for our congregation’s life and work in the next one to three years. That length of time—one to three years—represents a reasonable window of time within which we can set direction and move forward in our work together as a congregation. The question we asked ourselves was, In what ways do we need to transform lives differently in the next one to three years? This is an extraordinarily broad question and, as you can imagine, could be answered in dozens of different ways. Our challenge was to discern not more than three priorities, that is, three ways of transforming lives differently that are of such importance that we will ask the whole congregation to “pull together” to help address them. After many hours of thoughtful and prayerful discussion, the Board of Elders arrived at the following three priorities, identified in the bold typeface below. I’ve included some of my own comments in the regular typeface that follows each one.
Ministry Priorities in the Next One to Three Years:
1. We will strengthen our children’s and youth ministry.
Our group agreed that ministry to children and students has been a historic strength of South Meridian and continues to be to this day. The sense of the group was not that our ministries to children and youth are presently ineffective or malnourished, but that the current environment in which we are living requires us to double-down on our commitment to ministry to students and children.
2. We will embrace a richer and fuller friendship with our Avondale neighbors as a congregation.
“Avondale” is the name of the community in Anderson in which the facilities of South Meridian Church of God are located. As most in our church are aware, South Meridian has committed to remaining in this neighborhood and joining ourselves to the work that God is already doing in it. The elders believe that we must reaffirm our commitment to friendship with our neighbors as we move forward in ministry and partnership with them. It is tempting to think of the Avondale neighborhood in terms of scarcity, that is, what is missing here; but there is a wealth of gifts and capacities among our neighbors, abundance that we wish to affirm and call forth.
3. We will deepen our experience and practice of Christian spiritual formation.
Christian spiritual formation is a beautiful phrase describing the process in which we are “transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2)”. In spiritual formation, we learn some of the ancient practices such as prayer, contemplation, study, worship and service that help us be more fully present to God’s presence and power.
I am very grateful for the persistence, commitment and love the Board of Elders expressed when they gathered on that wintry weekend in January.
Yours in Christ,