Dear Friend in Christ,
When Jesus appeared before Thomas after the resurrection, he faced a young man with many questions. He did not understand what was happening around him. He certainly didn’t understand what he was to do next. Jesus calmed his questions by urging him to reach out and touch him. As Thomas did, Jesus told him not to doubt, but to “become a believer”. That word become is so important. Jesus knows that Thomas is on a journey. Belief – following Jesus – is not a static state. It is a process, a journey. It is an ever-developing relationship. In embracing that evolving state, we walk the journey of discipleship. An important part of that journey is to, like Thomas, be able to see Jesus right before us. Who is Jesus to us? Where is he leading us? How ca we best serve him? The answer to these questions make up what we call the Vision of our church.
For the last 18 months, Ascension has undergone a process of vision Discernment. The goal was to learn the personality of our congregation. We wanted to know who we were, before deciding where we were going. What interests us? What motivates us? What are the core components of our identity? We underwent an exhaustive study of our community, and are pleased to share our findings.
Some of our findings may be obvious to you. Many in our congregation have a life-long tie to Ascension. Ours is a congregation in which many families found their roots across multiple generations. They have deep friendships and relationships that extend beyond church walls. Ascension is an integral part of their family. Because of this connection, there are great ties to our tradition and history, and maintaining the strong ministry and programming that has existed at Ascension during this long lifetime. It is a group passionate about worship and Christian Education. These are viewed as the staples of our identity.
That, however, is not the only demographic at Ascension. There is another, emerging, group as well. They do not have as long ties to our congregation. They are newer to our community, and are looking for the same deep bonds enjoyed by our senior members (by length of membership, not necessarily chronological age). This group is looking for new and innovative ways of doing ministry. They are passionate about service-based ministry that extends beyond our church walls. While they greatly desire deeper connection to our community, they’ve not yet found a ministry that appeals to them.
In this, we find a wonderful diversity in our congregation. We are firmly rooted in the foundation of our tradition, blessed by many member who have been raised at Ascension. We also have new members, who come with a fresh perspective and understanding. We are moved by either traditional or contemporary worship styles. We are comprised of “traditional” families, and also much more. We are young adults, divorcees, single parents, same-sex couples, and other ethnicities. We are from a variety of economic and social stations. We are, in all our diversity, the church.
Our children have shared their voice as well. They share that they enjoy Sunday School, and would like to participate more in service-based activities. They also value being included in worship, and recognized as valuable members of the church.
Through our study, Ascension’s vision is becoming clear. We see a congregation of connection. We enjoy, or are seeking, connection through one another. We desire connection with the local community in need. Most of all, we strive for connection to Christ through our work, worship, learning, and fellowship together. As we move forward in ministry, our aim is to get connected.
Peace in Christ,