Wherever You Are: WPLC’s Goals

Wherever You Are: WPLC’s Goals

INTRODUCTION

As a congregation, we strive to welcome all people wherever they are on their journey, and that is crux of our goals for this next year. We know that some gather with us for a single day, others for a shorter or longer period, and some are exploring what it means to be Lutheran. No matter where you are on the journey, we want to welcome and include you!

During the pandemic, we’ve begun expanding our welcome beyond the walls. Worship livestream and online programs have widened our doors. In the years ahead, we are working to fully include people wherever they are across the globe and wherever they are in their faith journey. For we know that, wherever you are, our God is with you on the journey and we want to be with you as well.

Table of Contents

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal, morning prayer (matins)

2020-2021’s Progress

Let us celebrate our successes since our goals were last set! Click here to see our “Looking Forward” goals.

In the last year, we:

  • Developed and launched an entirely Digital Church with diverse programming and Worship Livestream offerings.
  • Responded to injustice locally and globally by achieving our long-term goal to give 10% of our annual budget as ELCA Mission Support (up from 9% in 2020).
  • Financially-partnered with the Lighthouse Foundation.
  • Engaged in non-digital ways by creating and distributing “worship at home” kits for Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.
  • Fundraised over $127,000 for and began the installation of the Gathering Garden to replace the lead water supply line and add a community outdoor space.
  • Extended our partnership with the Metropolitan Chicago Synod’s anti-racism team to better respond to racial injustice.
  • Began “Justice First (Sunday)” as a monthly engagement on justice issues including an action to respond to injustice
  • Became anAMMPARO Welcoming Congregation” and continued to deepen our engagement through letter writing, advocacy, and our Advent project.
  • Deepened our teaching congregation program with a full-time pastoral intern and the continuation of our pastoral residency program for seminary students.

All are welcome at Christ’s table for Holy Communion. This is not Wicker Park Lutheran Church’s table, not Pastor Jason’s table, and not a Lutheran table, this is Christ’s table–it is a table of unity and not of division–so, know that you are welcome at this table.

WPLC Welcome to Communion

“A Time to Listen” Findings

In early 2021, the Congregation Council engaged in a time of listening to hear what kind of things we learned about our faith community during our time of exclusively Digital Church along with discerning our congregation’s values. We offered 8 groups along with an electronic survey during “A Time to Listen.” Over 35 people participated in our discernment. Below are a few highlights.

What we missed during Digital Church
Some of What Was discoverEd during Digital Church
The values That best describe WPLC

There were a total of 49 possible selections, below are the top responses:

Wherever you are on your spiritual or religious journey, you are welcome in this community.

WPLC’s Welcome to Worship

WPLC’s Goals

Long-term Goal #1

Engage with our community in inclusive, diverse, and hospitable ways both virtually and in person.

Why is this goal important?

  • Helps us realize our vision to “be a thriving Christian presence in metro Chicago, recognized as offering spiritual and social resources in our community.”
  • Empowers us to live out our purpose to reach all people as stated in the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28).
  • Roots us in our focus to worship God through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, witness, and service (see C4.02.a. of our constitution).

Steps During 2022

  1. Enhance our hybrid church (i.e.- mixed virtual and in-person ministries) 
    • Develop lay leaders to assist staff with digital church program and Worship Livestream
    • Consider adding a part-time paid position focused on technology
    • Explore ways to integrate virtual and in-person gatherings, which may include:
      • offering virtual options for our ministries including Meet & Eat and service projects
      • creating a Facebook group
      • launching a congregation smart phone application
      • adding a “meet the member” section within the e-newsletter
  2. Grow our external community engagement 
    • Participating in community events, which may include Boo-palooza and Movies in the Park
    • Hosting a community event in the Gathering Garden
    • Branding our values in creative ways to share about WPLC
  3. Continue our core ministries during the pandemic
    • Continually evaluate our ministries in light of the pandemic
    • Strategize safe engagement opportunities

Long-term Goal #2

Equip and empower our community to be agents for justice.

Why Was the LAnguage Updated?

Justice and activism were two highly-rated values during “A Time to Listen” (see above). As we continue to deepen our congregation’s engagement with justice issues, we’re looking to further engage the larger community in justice work. This is a part of God’s calling for us to love our neighbor; after all, as Dr. Cornel West said, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

Why is this goal important?

  • Expands our commitment to justice in our community (see C4.03.f. in our constitution).
  • Helps us to live out our mission to be “a passionate, Christian community that is committed to nurturing and building up the body of Christ.”
  • Allows us to better engage with our purpose to “challenge, equip, and support all members to carry out the calling” and also, to “respond to human need” (see C4.03.c. in our constitution).

Next Steps

  1. Review our Governing Documents with the Antiracism Committee for Transformation to align with the requirements of the “Reconciling in Christ” (RIC) designation to better express our desire to become an anti-racist congregation by 2023.
  2. Financially support Reconciling Works as a part of our “Reconciling in Christ” commitment during 2022.
  3. Work with other congregations to review the required provisions of the ELCA Constitution to align them with anti-racist ideals by 2023 and then, pass a memorial for the ELCA to make updates.
  4. Develop our relationships with the Lighthouse Foundation, AMMPARO, and Trinidad Lutheran Church by recruiting and developing liaisons by the end of 2022.
  5. Conduct a letter writing campaign with the congregation and other ministry partners regarding gender-neutral bathroom code changes by the end of 2022.

Long-term Goal #3

Improve space use opportunities, facilitate congregational growth, and provide more inclusive accessibility (virtual and physical) to our facilities through a comprehensive building plan.

Why is this goal important?

  • So that we might continue to live out our vision to provide “spiritual and social resources in our community.”
  • Allow us to be good stewards of our financial and physical resources so that we might best fulfill our mission, vision, values, and purpose.

Next Steps

  1. Finalize the comprehensive building plan design through discussion with the congregation by the end of 2022.
    • Council will develop hybrid ministry additions for the Taskforce to integrate
    • Engage the congregation to review the options
    • Determine the best plan at a Congregation Meeting
  2. Utilize the Gathering Garden for ministry.

Short-term Goal #1

Prepare for Pastor Jason’s 2022 sabbatical.

Why is this goal important?

  • Helps the congregation to more robustly support the church’s work by allowing lay leaders to deepen their leadership during the sabbatical.
  • Brings in another perspective having a visiting pastor who will preach, preside, and provide pastoral care during Pastor Jason’s sabbatical.
  • Allows Pastor Jason to emotionally and spiritually recharged for ministry.
  • Is a way to celebrate Pastor Jason’s eight years at WPLC!
  • It fulfills our contractual agreement with Pastor Jason to consider a sabbatical every five to seven years of ministry. Note: Pastor Jason’s originally scheduled sabbatical was delayed from 2021 due to COVID-19.

Steps

  1. Plan for volunteer, synod, and hired support during the sabbatical along with determining any needed funding during 2021.
  2. Congregation Council presents a proposal to the Congregation at the 2022 Annual Meeting.
  3. Finalize preparations for sabbatical in spring 2022.
  4. Engage in a congregational “sabbatical summer” in the summer of 2022.
  5. Celebrate and reconnect as a community in the fall of 2022.

Questions or Feedback

You are invited to contact the Executive Committee of the Congregation Council with any questions or feedback on these goals. Please email exec@wickerparklutheran.org to contact the full committee.