New Life 2018: Re-Focusing our Vision
As we embark on a new phase of our journey together as a community of faith, as a newly-organized congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), we re-engage in conversations about our mission and vision here in this place, together. In 2012, when I came, we engaged in a period of planning to help us hear what God was saying to us: to feel the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for this new church. We found that community service and care of creation were the core of New Life, and the directions toward which we felt called.
We have lived into that vision, and we have been richly blessed. We have taken seriously our work to share this piece of Hill Country land with our neighbors, to protect the animals and plants who life here. We have taken seriously the work we have been given of reaching out into our community to find ways to serve our neighbors right here in Dripping Springs.
And we have grown - in numbers of people involved and in our understanding of God’s work for us. We have grown into a community that doesn’t just care for nature, but worships in and WITH the natural world around us. The wild grapes become our wine, the trails our Good Friday stations of the cross, the seasons are part of our rhythm of worship in a deeper way that it is for churches that worship in a building. We’ve shared our story and vision with others and sparked ideas in other places.
And now that we are in this new place, as congregation, not a new-start mission. And we are a new group of people. Whether you have been here since this mission started in a pizza parlor, or if you just came for the first time last week, or all of us in between, we want your voice, your input.
In gratitude and joyful anticipation,
The LORD knows that as we practice the wonderful gift of giving and serving, in turn we become just a little more like Him along the way and New Life has a very giving and very active community. This is an exciting time for our community. Below is the process the New Life Leadership Team has laid out for the coming year to work together and with the Holy Spirit to plan for our future and stay true to our mission of sharing God’s love outwardly in our community and outside in God’s creation.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Churches move forward by grace. We seek the Lord concerning strategies and structures and immanent decisions that will shape the kind of church New Life is for years to come. As we start this process, we will also be mindful of communicating with the congregation: we will be posting agendas and minutes of our Leadership Team meetings in our developing members area of our website soon - stay tuned for details on how to access those. Please feel free to discuss this process and our plans with anyone on our Leadership Team. The 2018 leadership team is Julie Heth, Jamie Stubblefield, Katie Coburn, Alan Higgerson, Kara Stewart, and Karen Retzler. They are here to help the New Life community in any way they can.
Lastly, we would like you to pray with us. We believe God has a way forward for us. "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32. We do not deserve God’s favor or blessing. But because of the blood and righteousness of Christ, we are confident that we live under the wings of God’s mercy.
Julie Heth, New Life Leadership Team Chair
2018 Visioning Process (in process - things may shift, be added)
LEADERSHIP TEAM RETREAT - Epiphany - January 6 -St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Cypress Creek - we discussed how we came to be part of New Life, and our process for getting everyone’s input in this next exciting phase for our church.
- SEASON AFTER EPIPHANY BIBLE STUDY - “The Gospel of Mark and Being a New Church.” Discussions about mission (we hadn’t included this in our 2018 formal plan, but it has been a good start to these conversations!).
LENTEN STORIES IN WORSHIP - Why did you come? Why did you stay? Who do we want to be? Sharing stories.
EASTER EVENTS - OUTDOOR WORSHIP SPACES TOUR - April 7, 10 am meet at New Life - take a tour of local outdoor worship spaces - for inspiration! We did this back in 2012 and it was really helpful for imagining.
-guide that people can also do on their own if they can’t make it that day Please NOTE: the April 7 outdoor spaces tour has been reconfigured to a do-it-yourself tour - maps and directions to follow.
LISTENING DAY ON THE LAND - April 14, 10 am - noon. Prayer, song, and time to walk and contemplate our mission on this land. We have added some conversation about next steps on our land to the plan for this day.
CONGREGATIONAL CONVERSATION 1 - PENTECOST - with art project celebration
-discuss information and input gathered so far (Lenten conversations, Easter events)
-present and discuss information on status of land transfer, loan
-asset-based survey - what do you bring to this place - interests, talents, connections, etc.
-decide on items to research, follow up information needed
CONGREGATIONAL CONVERSATION 2 - report on research, decide on some next steps - Early Fall
CONGREGATIONAL MEETING - October - with annual meeting, any decisions that need to be made on next steps