“Is Nothing Sacred?” weeknight Bible study

“Is Nothing Sacred?”, a new weeknight Bible study group, is organizing to begin in January at Falcon Heights Church. Ever wanted to read and discuss the Bible, but afraid of what you don’t know? Have you shied away from studying the scriptures because of how others interpret them? “Is Nothing Sacred?” might be for you! No prior knowledge or experience with the Bible needed. Questions? Email Rev. Rick King at revrick@falconheightsucc.org.

Sharing our space with partners

One of the priorities that arose from a recent congregational discussion was to seek opportunities for sharing our space with partners that align with our mission and vision. In 2019 we talked with a Montessori school about classroom space and with Keystone Community Services about establishing a food shelf here. Neither of those ideas proved feasible. Because of engineering requirements, we would be unable to create a large enough open space for a Montessori classroom, and recently we got word from Keystone that they lack the funding to reopen a food shelf at any location.

We have, however, started very initial communications with Spirit of St. Stephen Catholic Community. This is not a typical Catholic community! Their website (www.spiritofststephens.org/) says, “No priest. No kidding.” They are an independent Catholic community rooted in social justice. They believe in the priesthood of all people and center their worship on the Eucharist. Their ministry is based on justice, peace, inclusion, gratitude and the wisdom of the Spirit that ignites their prayer as they seek to follow the nonviolent Jesus.

The door to this potential partnership was opened because one of our members has openly talked outside of church about this priority for FHC. All of us can do the same! We’ve worked diligently over the years to maintain our building, and we can be proud of our willingness to modify spaces if necessary to establish a partnership that will help nurture our demonstration plot and further our outreach mission.

Reconsidering our governance structure

One of our challenges is the governance structure of the church and the large number of people it requires. The Crossroads Team and the Executive Board came to that conclusion as we have discussed the future of our congregation and looked at ways to continue Jesus’ ministry within the congregation, to our immediate community and to the world.

The Constitution and Bylaws require seven officers, four of whom are members of the Executive Board, which also has nine at-large members, for a total of 13 persons on the Board.  Then, the Constitution and Bylaws require that each of the standing committees and ministry teams consist of at least three members of the congregation. That comes to 49 elected positions in a membership of slightly over 100 persons.

Given the many commitments congregants have in their lives, we believe we can streamline our governance structure to better utilize our group wisdom and thrive in the future. We need a more agile structure that gives us the flexibility to meet the church’s changing needs with fewer people.

While the Executive Board and Crossroads are not yet ready to make specific recommendations for revising the Constitution and Bylaws, we can experiment over the next couple of years to discover what works better. Expect to hear more about this in the coming month. We will be looking for your forbearance, as well as your ideas, for designing a governance structure for the future.

Food donation for hungry neighbors

You can help hungry neighbors this winter with two food donation opportunities. We are collecting:

  • Nonperishables for the Division of Indian Work food shelf. For January, our focus will be hearty soups — the kind that make a meal!
  • Breakfast food for Falcon Heights students. We are collecting low-sugar cereal, oatmeal and snacks (granola bars, nuts, dried fruit) to send home with students from Falcon Heights School for their Sheridan Story backpacks.

Bring your donations to the church lobby and we’ll make sure they get to those in need.

Weeknight Bible study group

A new small weeknight Bible study group is organizing to begin the week of Jan. 13, 2020. Ever wanted to read and discuss the Bible, but afraid of what you don’t know? Have you shied away from studying the Scriptures because of how others interpret them? “Is Nothing Sacred?” might be for you! No prior knowledge or experience with the Bible needed. If you’d like to know more, and make the Bible a part of your New Year’s resolutions, email revrick@falconheightsucc.org.

Connecting through our church building

The Crossroads Team has heard from the congregation that our church building (and parking lot) could be a great asset to the community. People have proposed ideas for sharing a portion of our space with another organization.

We’re hearing from other churches that moving beyond a single use for church buildings is a trend that bears examining–whether it’s sharing space with a community service organization, an educational institution, another church or something else. Sharing space, done wisely, could increase our impact in the community while also providing additional financial security for our future.

One of the areas the Crossroads team has been exploring throughout the year has been ways we can serve the larger community of which we are a member. Last week, we asked you to share any ideas you might have about partnerships we could start or expand in the community, and we still need more of them.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts or ideas about sharing our space with the Crossroads team, including Cor Wilson, Carol Holm, Rev. Rick King, Conee Biggs, Margee Fabyanske, Mary Gaasch, Brian Knapp and Larry Schumacher.

Results are in!

Thanks to everyone who weighed in with their votes on the ideas and suggestions offered by fellow congregation members as experiments to improve our relationships with each other and with the community.

After collecting all the votes, a few things became clear: there is a strong desire to reconnect on an intimate level with each other; a strong desire to connect our children to the life of the congregation; and a strong desire to connect with the broader community in meaningful ways, using our facilities as an asset.

The top goals identified by those who cast their votes were:

  • Dinner for Eight: intimate meals with small groups of the congregation
  • Hiring a faith formation staff member
  • Conducting small group conversations on faith experiences
  • Sing-alongs for all ages
  • Making more use of our patio to connect with the neighborhood
  • A collection of other ideas revolving around the use of our building to serve the community

All the responses – not only those identified above – will be collected and used to help design our congregational road map to guide future decisions about small experiments and large strategic decisions the congregation may make.

In the near term, our Crossroads Team will meet with our multi-congregational cohort on Nov. 4 to share our results and plan next steps.

Small experiments

Churches progress through small experiments, author says

“Churches often assume that trying something once means they have to get it perfect,” writes Dwight J. Zscheile in his book “The Agile Church.”

“If they fail, the whole endeavor (new ministry initiative, worship service, program, etc.) often just quietly disappears, without seeking to learn what changes might be made in the next round. Often, there is no next round. Churches tend to have unrealistic expectations of success. Innovators make clear that you have to try things out again and again, while making small modifications, to see what works. That is the value of small experiments.”

Intrigued by this idea of small experiments? Please join us this fall to discuss “The Agile Church” as it relates to our journey as a congregation.

And check out this short video about experimentation, “Learn from Failure,” that may relate to our efforts: https://vimeo.com/1034713344

Choose one of two book discussion groups:

  • Sundays, Sept. 8, 15 and 22, at First Hour, 9:15 a.m.
  • Wednesdays, Sept. 11, 18 and 25, at 6:15 p.m.

We hope you’ll join us for the “adventure of God’s mission.” Sign up for one of the book discussions on the clipboard in the lobby, or sign up online.

Carillon rings again

The FHC carillon rings again! Thanks to a gift from the estate of Sue Reitan, the church’s carillon is restored and ringing again.

The original carillon, running with cassette tapes and belt-driven players, was a gift decades ago from Evylyn and Jerry Palmer. Parts were no longer available. The three loudspeakers on the roof were originally mounted on a wooden sawhorse that rotted out and collapsed. That caused one of the speakers to fill with water!

A new iPad-driven system has replaced the cassette tape unit. Now we have hundreds of new musical options. We removed the speakers earlier this month and Metro Sound & Lighting restored them to original specs. Simultaneously, Alex Olsen fabricated a custom steel hanger to mount the speakers that allows them to be aimed more broadly than before.

Currently the carillon rings at 8 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. As we move through the liturgical year, we’ll add music (e.g., a Fourth of July concert and a Christmas Eve ringing).

FoodShare drive exceeds goals

Church donors’ generosity during our Minnesota FoodShare drive will feed hungry people with more than a ton and a half of food and $840 in cash, thanks to multiple matches.

Falcon Heights Church contributed nearly 750 pounds of food for the Department of Indian Work food shelf at Interfaith Action in St. Paul.

That was matched by an anonymous donor at FHC, who got so excited about our congregation’s efforts that they increased their match to 1,000 pounds.

The FoodShare organization is matching the donations again, for a grand total of 3,500 pounds of food–roughly the weight of a compact SUV.

Thanks to all who made this a successful campaign!

Food donations