Next steps for Vision: Connectional Mission Design

Submitted by Nancy Dolan, Barrington

Rev. Mike Miller, Chicago Crerar and Rev. Lisa  Lopez, Hanover Park Christ leading a L.E.A.D.  session on ‘Cool Ministries’

Rev. Mike Miller, Chicago Crerar and Rev. Lisa Lopez, Hanover Park Christ leading a L.E.A.D. session on ‘Cool Ministries’

Who is the Connectional Mission Design Task Force (CMDTF)?
We are a diverse group of teaching and ruling elders from across our presbytery who have been commissioned to design the future structure for how the Presbytery of Chicago supports and enables mission and ministry in our churches and communities. The task force was formed in October 2013, following the recommendations of the Vision and Praxis Task Force.

Our members include: Rev. Shawna Bowman, Chicago Friendship; Elder Greg Boyer, Evanston Northminster; Elder Nancy Dolan (Moderator), Barrington; Elder Arrie Jones, Chicago Pullman; Rev. Lisa Lopez, Hanover Park Christ; Rev. Mike Miller, Chicago Crerar; Rev. Bob Reynolds, Executive Presbyter and staff representative; Elder Nick Shargo, Carol Stream Heritage; Rev. Joy Douglas Strome, Chicago Lake View; and Rev. John Vest, Chicago Fourth.

That’s a big name, the ‘Connectional Mission Design Task Force’!
Yes, it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it?! While seemingly clunky at first, the name truly does reflect our charge and vision. Input gathered from numerous feedback channels, including the Moderators’ Conversations and the relational meetings of the Vision and Praxis Task Force, told us that our presbytery values and yearns for connection. A connectional mission structure would facilitate and nurture relationships and shared passions which strengthen existing ministries and encourage creativity and innovation.

Your task seems large; especially given our presbytery.
This is big work. Our presbytery is complex. Our congregations are extremely diverse geographically, ethnically and racially, theologically, economically, in size and strength. Facilitating connections across our nearly 100 congregations is a challenge but a welcome one. With all its diversity, our presbytery is a powerful witness of the kingdom. Our complexity presents challenges but also tremendous opportunities.

So, how’s it going?
We are deep into the work and are approaching it from many levels. Part of our charge is to review and assess our current mission structure, the three Mission Priority Leadership Teams. We have been meeting with the dedicated people of these teams to learn about their successes and challenges, both of which will inform our new design. We are also studying the new things other presbyteries are trying in order to stimulate our creativity and imagination. We sense that our future design could look very different from how we go about mission together now. That only makes sense. Our churches are ministering in very different contexts than they were when the current mission design was implemented almost 10 years ago. We need to adapt and change in response.

When will the task force finish its work?
Our charge calls for us to make recommendations to the Presbytery Coordinating Commission at its May 2014 meeting. We expect the work of the task force to conclude at that point but not the work of change and adaptation which is work for all of us as we discern God’s call to proclaim the Gospel in our rapidly changing world.

If you have questions or suggestions for the task force, feel free to contact one of the CMDTF members.

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