- Michael Minch
The process of conversation and discernment we have used this summer to take an inventory of where we are as a church, and where we want to go, who we are, and who we want to be—is not over!
We have been in a time of reflection and anticipation, waiting for Pastor Michael to join us. Now that he is one of our pastors and settling in, it is time to revisit the journey we’ve been on, as we have revisited our identity, purpose, mission, and vision.
Here, we restate the summary of our conversations, but we will also add some ideas about mission and leadership generated by our pastors and the board.
As a community, Riverfront Family Church
Values diversity and inclusivity of many kinds, from the differences of racial identity to theological and spiritual to neurodiversity.
Welcomes and embraces children and youth.
Commits to healing, wellbeing, and social justice.
Intends to be a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community.
Encourages engagement in deconstruction, seeking, and belief in whatever swirling and fluid combination they are at, at any given time.
Aspires to be a powerful force of ministry in the Hartford area.
Commits to anti-racism and building peace and reconciliation.
Engages the problematic [sic recommend change to ‘challenges”] of climate change.
Commits to helping others encounter Jesus and become more like him, that spiritual
growth and discipleship is integral to our purpose and Mission.
We are an “experiment” of sorts, and “quirky”! We affirm that we want to be available to one another, building up our church “bearing one another’s burdens” and caring for one another with love.
For the past several weeks, the board and our pastors have discussed a new model of leadership and ministry that we believe fits well with the vision summarized above. We did not “roll out” this model and language because we waited for Pastor Michael to join us and give his input.
The idea is that there will be six “Action Teams” (in our now tentative language) in the church, each with leadership from someone not on the board, and each with a board member who is a liaison to that Action Team. They are the:
Worship Action Team
Fellowship (about ministry to and with members of RFC) Action Team
Community Engagement (about ministry beyond RFC) Action Team
Spiritual Growth Action Team
Justice Action Team
Children and Youth Action Team
Realising that stewardship is critically important to all that we do, we have discussed the merits of a Stewardship Action Team or rather, making sure we keep focused on stewardship in all the Action Teams.
You will recall that early this summer you received a message about the possible adoption of a Purpose Statement or Mission Statement (noting that our church simply does not have one). This idea is still alive. We (your pastors and board) will suggest a Statement in the weeks ahead.
We will present a campaign and process of transition from these ideas and commitments to the embodiment of them. That is, as a church, we believe we are now ready to move from conversation and discernment about our identity, purpose, and mission, toward the structures that will incarnate our vision, fellowship, and ministry. All church members will have the explicit opportunity to volunteer for ministry in a number of different ways.
Please look for, and pray for, the beginning of this transition on Sunday, September 18. Please join us in a season of anticipation.
- Pastor Ben
This is a fascinating article from today's New York Times. The big idea of the article focuses on research that shows that "relationships between rich and poor" are a critical catalyst for reducing gnerational poverty.
The effect was profound. The study found that if poor children grew up in neighborhoods where 70 percent of their friends were wealthy — the typical rate of friendship for higher-income children — it would increase their future incomes by 20 percent, on average.
These cross-class friendships — what the researchers called economic connectedness — had a stronger impact than school quality, family structure, job availability or a community’s racial composition. The people you know, the study suggests, open up opportunities, and the growing class divide in the United States closes them off.
I think this is a really interesting hypothesis and one that resonates on many levels. Within the long Christian tradition of seeking after and working for justice, there is an interwoven narrative of relationships and kinship. This study seems to affirm that idea.
This has profound implications for those of us commited to justice and fighting poverty. If relationships can be a catalyst for change, how do we go about building those authentic relationships?
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas...
- Pastor Ben
This is a statement from the organization, "Christians Against Christian Nationalism". I have signed it; I hope you will consider doing so as well.
As Christians, our faith teaches us everyone is created in God’s image and commands us to love one another. As Americans, we value our system of government and the good that can be accomplished in our constitutional democracy. Today, we are concerned about a persistent threat to both our religious communities and our democracy — Christian nationalism.
Christian nationalism seeks to merge Christian and American identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy. Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian. It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation. We reject this damaging political ideology and invite our Christian brothers and sisters to join us in opposing this threat to our faith and to our nation.
As Christians, we are bound to Christ, not by citizenship, but by faith. We believe that:
People of all faiths and none have the right and responsibility to engage constructively in the public square.
Patriotism does not require us to minimize our religious convictions.
One’s religious affiliation, or lack thereof, should be irrelevant to one’s standing in the civic community.
Government should not prefer one religion over another or religion over nonreligion.
Religious instruction is best left to our houses of worship, other religious institutions and families.
America’s historic commitment to religious pluralism enables faith communities to live in civic harmony with one another without sacrificing our theological convictions.
Conflating religious authority with political authority is idolatrous and often leads to oppression of minority and other marginalized groups as well as the spiritual impoverishment of religion.
We must stand up to and speak out against Christian nationalism, especially when it inspires acts of violence and intimidation—including vandalism, bomb threats, arson, hate crimes, and attacks on houses of worship—against religious communities at home and abroad.
Whether we worship at a church, mosque, synagogue, or temple, America has no second-class faiths. All are equal under the U.S. Constitution. As Christians, we must speak in one voice condemning Christian nationalism as a distortion of the gospel of Jesus and a threat to American democracy.