God’s vision for the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia is “Healthy, Growing Congregations, Working Together.”
Our goal, to help us achieve that vision, is “to equip its congregations to make and grow disciples of Jesus Christ, resulting in increased worship attendance, professions of faith, and mission.”
A key component to accomplish this is a model of asking pastors and sessions to engage in a yearlong study of Congregational Leadership and Health, meeting monthly.
If the sessions and pastors choose, they may also request a consultation and follow-up coaching.
Between February 2009 and March 2010, 16 of our pastors who had demonstrated consistent growth over a several year period of time met monthly to study 13 books. Those 16 were: Gary Bagley, Jeff Bell, Al Butzer, Michael Condrey, Deborah Dail, Ralph Herbert, Cindy Higgins, Bill Lamont, Bob Melone, Doug Nagel, Addie Peterson, Jenny Russell, Frank Webster, Lawrence Willis, Jim Wood, and Jim Young.
A four month mini-course, called “Come and See” was presented in the Fall of 2010.
The next group of clusters, also called learning communities, began on January 13, 2011, with 15 clergy, I Candidate, and 18 elders. There are 14 in the peninsula cluster and 20 in the Southside cluster. They are: Jimmie Espich, Bill Espich, Madalene Hardison, Barry Phillips, Julie Thro, Dave van Dyke, Sandy Kane, Don McLean, Linda McKee, Gene Soud, Kaye Aguirre, Bev Credle, Walt Credle, Lisa Woessner, Brenda Andrews, Helen Bessant Byrd, Linda Dean, Mary Lee Fentress, Ellen Campbell Gardner, Ernie Gardner, Richard Grice, Peggy Hicks, Anita Killebrew, Kent Leydens, Karen Long, Fred McCall, Paul Meitz, Devereux Montgomery, John Monroe, Jim Pressly, Nelda Pressly, Dick Schult, Veronica Thomas, and Doug Van Niel. The Southside cluster meets from 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM on the second Thursdays at First, Norfolk, and the Peninsula cluster meets at the Hidenwood Church on the third Thursdays from 9 AM to 2 PM.
The track record of turning a church around from decline or being on a plateau, using this method, is 50%, a far higher percentage than any other model or method being tried today. If that success can be replicated in our presbytery, we anticipate by 2014, 2/3 of our churches will be growing instead of 1/3.
Please be in prayer for the 34 participants and the 18 churches they represent in the 2011 edition of the Healthy Growing Congregations Initiative.