During a church Forum on Sunday, February 24, members of the Growth Team described what they have working on to take the themes of Inquiry, Acceptance, and Impact forward to grow AHCC. Wanda Williams-McCormack spoke about the theme of Acceptance. An excerpt of her comments is below.
The Growth Team Task Force began meeting last summer to discuss the current state of the AHCC family and who we might strive to become in the future. One of many resources we read was a study commissioned by Cigna that concluded one of the greatest health threats is loneliness, that can be allayed by a sense of well-being or a sense of belonging. We concluded that many within and outside AHCC have lost that sense of belonging, and if we are to be a church of the present and the future we must exemplify what it is to be lovingly accepted into a church community.
Many people feel marginalized by traditional church doctrine, but we seek to build a church of loving acceptance, not an idealized view of our relationships, but a genuine effort to love each other as Jesus loves and forgives us ... warts and all!
In my family, we have an Uncle George who is rather cranky and opinionated, but travels to whatever family celebration there is and manages to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. I’m sure many of us have an “Uncle George” in our family. He brings his biases and anecdotal commentary to almost any subject the family is discussing. He is usually the only outlier, but fully expresses himself on any and all subjects! The lessons we take from his visits are (1) Uncle George has a profound love for the family (otherwise he’d stay away and not engage) and (2) before he gets on everyone’s last nerve, we all agree to disagree and he walks away still holding on to his story. At the end of the day, family is an US and WE, not a THEM or HIM. Putting a label on Uncle George won’t change him, and we learn to accept him for his value, his story, and his unique qualities.
The growth initiative offers all of us the opportunity to listen and accept others where they are on their faith journey without judgment or labeling or isolation ... even the Uncle Georges.
AHCC Growth – What’s Next? by Jim Grigsby
Have you felt the excitement, the positive and enthusiastic spirit that is all around us at AHCC? There is something very special happening as we begin to live into our affirmations of Inquiry, Acceptance, and Impact.
* Inquiry into matters of faith and community based not on a pre-packaged set of rigid beliefs, but on open conversation about important questions on life and spirituality.
* Acceptance as the pathway to belonging that is that truly and lovingly open to everyone.
* Impact that creates both spiritual and tangible growth in community and in AHCC itself.
So what’s next? These visionary ideas must be more than just ideas. It’s time to put our affirmations of Inquiry, Acceptance, and Impact into action. No doubt, these are lofty aspirations. We have more to do to attain them, but we as a church are fully committed and confident that this is the path that God is leading us to follow.
The Growth Team now has over 100 members – church members who have said “I am ready to receive ideas and information about opportunities to take action that will grow AHCC.” The Growth Team leadership group has been hard at work for the past couple of months and is now ready to launch a number of new growth initiatives:
* Working with the standing committees of AHCC, identify the programs and activities that are already in place or that can be created that will attract others to “give AHCC a try.”
* Dialogue with community-based organizations that offer the potential for impact to accomplish two things: make a difference in the community, and as we get to know the volunteers and constituents of these organizations, let them know more about AHCC and its ministries.
* Continued recruitment of Growth Team members. Can we reach 200? It’s a simple commitment. No meetings, no standing obligations, just a willingness to be informed about all the good things happening at AHCC and invite others to attend programs, special events, and worship services.
We need all of you to join the Growth Team and help turn our ideas and our excitement into real growth. Let’s hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.