Members of the 2020 Vision Team gave mid council leaders an opportunity to share their input on the development of a Guiding Statement this week. Team Co-Moderators Sabrina Slater and Salvador Gavalda were joined by teammates Jerrod Lowry and Debbie Foster during an interactive workshop at the Mid Council Leaders Gathering in Baltimore on Friday afternoon.
The Vision Team will be wrapping up a four-year process that has included several onsite meetings in Louisville; monthly Zoom calls; listening sessions with presbyteries, congregations, and synod leaders; as well as a lot of prayer.
The statement has focused on five words: Prayerful, Courageous, United, Serving, Alive. “We are grateful to lift up the desires that have been named up to God, trusting that God will show up and continue to guide us,” said Slater.
The interactive session allowed attendees to highlight the words that resonated with them and offer their own thoughts.
“I was struck by the word ‘serving,’ listening to our neighbors,” said the Rev. Mary Westfall, transitional presbyter with the Presbytery of Sacramento. “That capacity of deeper listening, to take us out to listen to our neighbors’ problems, not to fix it for them. This helps us to understand the systemic injustices that perpetuate their problems.”
Slater says the interaction with mid council leaders was very helpful.
“We are engaging and I love that we can see not only the amens, but also some questions that are stirring too,” she said. “This conversation may lead us to deeper questions to challenge best practices. I like seeing the movement of different folks bringing their experience and their knowledge and lives into these spaces.”
“We’ve struggled to get the statement together, but it’s helping us to think about what God is calling us to do today,” said Gavalda. “Where is the opportunity? What are we called to do?”
Slater says the 2020 Vision Team came from different parts of the country, with different experiences, but adds they believe God is calling the church to be a people of prayer, united and alive.
“That’s going to look different in each of your contexts,” she told mid council leaders. “As you pray, God might birth a vision for you in context. It might be about becoming a Matthew 25 church or getting involved with Hands and Feet. There are different resources that help us live as God would have us to. It doesn’t mean anything unless we live into it. There are creative ways people are living out of this statement.”
The Vision Team will present the Guiding Statement at the 224th General Assembly (2020) in Baltimore next June. Slater says she doesn’t know if commissioners will approve it or not, but she says the statement has made an imprint on the team and they’re "excited to see how it will live on.”