Growth, Change and Teamwork

Dear Friends,

As we begin the new year, the dust is settling—a little bit. There have been many changes and transitions which I believe will help us more effectively minister to each other and live into our promise. The intent of these changes is not to make change for change’s sake. Instead, we intend to help make it easier and more exciting for more people to participate in our ministry. As a historically congregational church, each one of us by virtue of our baptism is called to be a disciple of Jesus. I see my role, as a pastor, is to help create a place where people can meaningfully live into their baptism and fulfill their calling. We are all ministers. Sometimes, in churches, we get into established patterns which make it harder for people to use their gifts. In some churches staff do everything for lay people who become passive recipients of ministerial services. In other churches, lay people do everything and don’t know how to use the gifts staff have to offer. Neither approach is healthy. When we enter into a covenant we are engaged in a shared ministry where every person —staff and laity— can use their gifts to glorify God. In covenantal churches, there is an air of mutual respect. One of the things which impresses me about First Congregational Church is that there really is a strong sense of cooperation and an eagerness to work together.

To help us live into our promise, we have sought to assemble and nurture a strong staff team which works well together. With pastoral transitions, there is often staff turnover. My preference is to keep such transitions to a minimum, if possible. I like to understand the strengths of the existing staff and how we can work together. It has been a blessing to discover the excellence of our existing staff, a wonderful gathering of people possessing many gifts and sensibilities which I feel blend with my own talents. What great ministry we can do together. Perhaps the largest question which has been raised is whether Adrianne would stay after I arrived. I am so happy to report that Adrianne is going to stay with us as our Associate Minister for the foreseeable future. I have found in Adrianne a great colleague and a confidant who I completely trust. She brings a wisdom and maturity to this position which is rare and hard to find. Lucy, David, Sylvia, and Laura are also people possessing great talent and bring incredible gifts to our ministry. I want to do everything to help them be the best they can be. We have also hired some gifted new staff. Our most recent hire was Kathleen Kono, who will be the new Director of our Youth Choir. Sarah, George, Chrissy, and our security staff, Bruce, Emmanuel, Becky, and Kristen, have done a remarkable job of helping us put in place strong and flexible administrative systems which will serve us well. Thanks also to Derik and Carole, who keep everything whistle clean. Every week, we fill in a few more pieces of the administrative puzzle as we all seek to help the church be the best it can be. This does take time as we help the church do a better job. I am grateful for everyone’s patience.

As we go along, the staff is open to hearing what we can do to improve. We truly want to hear and listen. We will make some mistakes from time to time. We will do our best to encourage you in your ministry and offer our candor, our challenge, and our best professional judgment as we live into the covenant we share with one another.

May the peace of Christ be with you,

Rev. Peter Cook

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