The Vision Process at First Church

What’s Next in the FCCB Vision Process?
  • Our March 26 Discernment Gathering was live streamed on YouTube – to watch it on your device – CLICK HERE.
    • To watch on your TV, find the video on our FirstChurch BTV YouTube Channel – it is one of three in the playlist: “Vision Process Updates”
  • Online Voting:
    • If you were not able to vote in person on March 26th – you are invited to participate in online voting this week.
  • Participating in Vision Proposal Discernment/Voting online?
    • Watch Elissa’s prayer (video below) offered in the gathering that preceded the in-person vision proposal voting on Sunday March 29 – it will support your faithful discernment process.

    • Before voting… scroll down to find links to review our:
    • Next … CLICK HERE to open our quick “How-to” voting guide – Discernment Voting 101.

      YOU CAN SEE OUR IN PERSON VOTING: On Sunday, members and friends voted in person, by walking around the chapel, placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice stickies on large-scale posters of each proposal.In order to make the discernment as communal and equitable as possible, you may see photographs of the proposals, with the stickies it received in-person on Sunday HERE

      Blue stickies are first choice, pink are second, and yellow are third. This should help you get a sense of how the Spirit was moving on Sunday afternoon.
    • The ONLINE VOTING FORM asks you to record your first, second and third Vision Proposal priorities. The form – available below – will be “open for voting online from Wednesday March 29 through 5pm, Sunday April 2.
      • When you complete the online form – your priorities will be included in the congregation’s tally.

    • If you’d rather not use the online form: please contact Caroline Catlin in the Church Office – she will record your top 3 choices: 802 862 5010, ext 4; email: [email protected].  If you call over the weekend – Caroline will get back to you about your voting priorities on Tuesday April 4th.

Prepare to discern your top three proposals:

  •  CLICK HERE for quick guide to the “voting” process –Discernment Voting 101 – the document includes tips on how to take part virtually.

  • Review the 5 Vision Proposals  – linked via the graphic – in one document. (To open each proposal separately – scroll down on this page.)
  • Watch the video of the Vision Proposal Discernment Exercise (below) that the Rev. Elissa Johnk recorded for you HERE – or – to watch on your TV – look in the “Vision Process Updates” playlist on our FirstChurchBTV YouTube Channel.

    • If you missed the March 19 Vision Proposal Gathering – please watch the live stream of it HERE – or to watch on your TV – look in the “Vision Process Updates” playlist on our FirstChurchBTV YouTube Channel.


Please watch the video above featuring: Vision Team member Susan Saunders & the Rev. Elissa Johnk discussing:

  • the importance of the March 19 & 26 post-worship vision gatherings;
  • where we are in the vision process & discerning next steps together;
  • some important “how to’s” for March 19 & 26.


The March 2023 Vision Group Projects are ready for you!

A March 8, 2023 letter from our Vision Team:

Dear Friends –

Wherever you are with whomever you find yourself from church, exchange HIGH-FIVES or elbow bumps as best you are able. There is much to celebrate!!

After many months of hard work, the very detailed, thoughtful, creative, well-researched proposals have been submitted and are now HERE in your inbox! Please take the time to read through them thoroughly, noting any questions you may have about the proposals. Please allow plenty of time for working through them. They are rich with information.  The five proposals are linked individually below this letter.

On March 19th, the questions that you have identified will be addressed by the individual proposal teams in preparation for our discernment balloting on the 26th. The congregation will have an opportunity to offer more feedback on this plan before it moves to implementation, so we ask that Sunday the 19th be dedicated to any questions generated by the proposals only.

Please note:
The “voting” that will take place on Sunday, March 26th is a discernment ballot. We will be listening for the voice of God that will, through the participation of each individual, guide us towards a collective discernment of where we, as the Body of Christ called to serve in this time and place – are being called. This is the first step towards the realization of all the hard work done by the Vision Team, the proposal teams and this congregation and staff.

Post Easter:
Based on the information gathered after the ballots are sorted on the 26th of March, and over a six-week period, the Vision Team will dedicate themselves to developing and articulating a high-level strategic plan (a task with which they were charged in 2020) that will identify sequencing, and any additional research that needs to be done.

The Strategic Plan will go to the Trustees, who will study and prayerfully discern the best ways to move forward, including funding and strategy, before presenting to the congregation.Again, the congregation will have an opportunity to offer more feedback on this plan before it moves to implementation.

The Congregation will gather in an all-congregation meeting to consider the proposal made by the Trustees and to begin the refinement, sequencing and project management that will move our dreams and visions, informed by the call and will of God, into reality.

There will be updates and notes from the Vision Team every week in March.
Printed copies of the proposals and supporting documentation are being mailed to those on our “print newsletter” list this week.  You are welcome to request a printed copy from the Church Office.

With gratitude and in faith –
The Vision Team: Rob Backus, Tony Hall, Jennifer Jorgenson, Susan Saunders and Charlie Smith

NOTE:  The March 17, 2023 Building & Renovations Report LINKED HERE includes edits and new information.


CLICK HERE to read Church President, Susan Ellwood’s March 3 letter about the next phase of our vision process and more about the March 19 & 26 after worship gatherings.

Each Vision Project Teams will report in more detail to the congregation in a presentation following worship on March 19 with an anticipated gathering on March 26 (also after worship) to determine congregational priorities. 

CLICK HERE to read the early February 2023 updates from our Vision Project Groups.

During the summer of 2022 – the Vision Team invited all to participate in a Vision Project Team – and promised it would be a fun and interesting ride!

The Vision Team published expanded descriptions of the six Vision Projects that received the most votes from the congregation in late May 2022 – including the preliminary proposals that support each of the six areas.  The Vision Team made some change to the process timeline in mid-July – keeping the Vison Project Team registration open through September 15.

Thank you for participating in this important step toward forming a faithful future for First Church!   – The FCCB Vision Team: Rob Backus, Mandy Grace, Tony Hall, Jennifer Jorgenson, Susan Saunders, Charlie Smith, Kipene Tabu, and Claire Bamberg, Consultant


May 2022:

More than 125 votes were submitted for 9 preliminary Vision Proposals in late May 2022!  Our Vision Team writes:  “Please share a big “Thank You” from our Vision Team to all who took part in online and in person vision voting during the last week of May.  We will have an update for you soon!”

Recent phases of our Vision Process are described below.  They lead up to online and in person voting at the end May.  Vote tallies will determine areas of  study for groups meeting over the summer months to formalize specific proposals to be presented to the congregation at a fall meeting.

You can watch the live stream of  the May 29 after worship Vision Proposal Presentation, Discussion and In Person Voting gathering here:



Welcome to the next phase of our vision-to-reality work!  In this phase you will find proposals that are balcony-view, with broad parameters articulated.

As indicated throughout the process, your Visioning Team has carefully, thoughtfully, and comprehensively reviewed the submitted proposals and grouped them according to topics and populations served.

  • Who was able to vote?  All members and friends of First Church.
  • In person voting took place at First Church on Sunday May 29 following the 10am worship during the Vision Team’s Vision Proposal Presentations, Discussion and In Person Voting.
    • The recording of the live stream of the gathering is posted above and is linked HERE
  • Online Voting (now closed) was open and promoted in late May. The online voting information included descriptions of  9 Preliminary Vision Proposal Descriptions.

Vote for one proposal:

  • This was intentionally not a ranked-choice voting system, but a caucus system, that the proposals might be quickly narrowed down to a few finalists.
  • These finalists will move immediately into development of formal proposals, that will take a good deal of research over the summer, to be presented to the congregation for a final vote in the fall.
  • More than 125+ people voted!

Thank you!
       – The First Church Vision Team


Learn more about our Vision Process…

  • Read the Rev. Elissa Johnk’s April 29 letter updating all on our Vision Process HERE
  • Read the Rev. Elissa Johnk’s May 6 letter on our Vision Process HERE



The Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg, Vision Consultant

SPECIAL PROGRAMS were held after worship on April 24, May 1, May 8 & May 15: With our Congregation’s Listening SessionsCommunity Listening Sessions, and Lenten Book Study Groups concluded, we turned our attention to reflecting and sharing ideas as all are were  invited to craft vision proposals (due Sunday May 22) for the whole congregation to consider as we seek to make a difference in the world, in God’s name.



Catching Up on Visioning?

  • CLICK HERE to watch the 5/8/22 Vision Gathering – Week 3
  • CLICK HERE to watch the 5/1/22 Vision Gathering – Week 2
  • CLICK HERE to watch the 4/24/22 Vision Gathering – Week 1
  • CLICK HERE to watch all or portions of the recordings of the April 24, May 1 and May 8 worship services.  These services included leadership from our Vision Team, our Vision Team consultant the Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg, and participants in the three Lenten Book Study experiences and highlight our visioning process.
  • Vision proposals were due on Sunday May 22. Proposals were invited – and online and printable templates were provided.


Getting caught up with visioning at First Church – here’s more about the process we started in 2020:

We started by asking what you thought in a series of cottage meetings during 2021. 
Here’s what the congregation had to say:

  • “What Brought You Here?” –  CLICK HERE
  • “Why Have You Stayed?” –  CLICK HERE
  • “What is your vision for First Church, 3-5 years from now?” –  CLICK HERE
  • “What do you think it will take to get from where we are today to your vision of ourfuture?”CLICK HERE


In response to your feedback, we selected these books to read as a congregation.
Check them out to catch up:

  • Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It) by Robert D. Lupton, 2011  Toxic Charity shows us how to start serving needy and impoverished members of our communities in a way that will lead to lasting, real-world change.”
  • Praying with Our Feet: Pursuing Justice and Healing on the Streetsby Lindsey Krinks – 2021   “Readers looking for ways to get involved in their communities will find plenty to motivate them in Krinks’s personal testament.”  Publishers Weekly
  • An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz – 2014  “The first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples.”
    • Check at the Church Office if you are interested in borrowing a copy – we are circulating a few copies of each book: [email protected]
  • The Rev. Elissa Johnk’s 2022 Lenten Sermon Series: Discerning a Communal Vision” – March 6 through April 10 lifted up the responses to the four questions from our many Vision Cottage Meetings – and introduced the three books selected for our Lenten Book Study.    Similarly – the worship services led by our Vison Team on April 24, May and May 8 – also lift up the themes of these three books.
    • You can find these worship services using this LINK to our website’s Sermons Online page.


What is the vision process?  

  1. Our Vision Team was formally commissioned and charged* by the congregation in late summer of 2020.  The Team meets regularly, collaborating with consultant, the Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg, church leaders, the congregation, and community members – to engage us in developing a plan for the future mission and ministries of First Church that will include a set of goals and a strategic plan to guide us over the next decade.

* To read the Vision Team’s original charge, and documents such as their 2020 and 2021 Annual Reports – use this LINK to go to our Vision Team website page and scroll down.


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