Reset First Congregational UCC

Event Date: 
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 10:15am - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 10:00am

The following was the meditation Moderator Phil Certain did to open the All-boards meeting on Monday, January 9.  It’s so good, I hope you will think about it and share your thoughts with others.  I think these ideas point a positive way forward for us.


For my meditation this evening, I would like to spend a few minutes thinking about resetting First Congregational Church. The word “reset” is used in a wide variety of contexts these days. My dictionary gives two definitions: 1. to set again, as in “reset a broken bone; and 2. to change the reading of, as in “reset a clock.”

On many electronic devices, there is a reset button to push when the thing stops working. A recent initiative of the Obama foreign policy was to “reset our relationship with Russia.” Political candidates who aren’t doing well say that they are going to “reset their campaign.”

So what do I mean “reset First Congregational Church?” Is it broken? Do we need to change direction?

What I want to say is that we need to reset our attitude toward our church. On December 11th, we learned that we had done something that I daresay no one thought possible: our congregation pledged $1.9 million toward the projects listed in our campaign brochure. Then came Christmas and New Years and now here we are in the second week of January. I don’t want us to lose the enthusiasm and the sense of possibility that we all felt on December 11th. I don’t want us to go back to the attitudes we had before the campaign started – that we are a congregation with limited possibilities; that we are fighting against the tide of history; that mainline Protestant churches are doomed, and so on and so on.

We now know that if properly challenged, we can do amazing things. And we will be challenged. Fixing the heating system will be easy, and after that we will need to face the fact that the $1 million or so that is left will not be enough to do all the things on our wish list. We will need to be our most visionary and collaborative in choosing what we will accomplish. Unanticipated challenges will come up – perhaps we will need to pay for a new roof, or we will need to put the Prison Ministry on a secure financial foundation. And we need to lick the problem of our chronically undersubscribed operating budget with the same resolve that we approached the capital campaign.

It will be so easy for us to slip back into a “woe is us” attitude – to lose our confidence that we can do amazing things. We mustn’t allow that to happen. We must remember that December 11th was a tremendous vote of confidence in the future of our congregation. We must reset our attitude toward the possibilities that our church offers to us and the Madison community.

Here are 6 suggestions to myself for how to reset:

Look to a bright future, rather than to a past that will never return.

Adopt as our motto: “Strike the t from can’t”– so that we become a can-do church.

Beware first reactions. My experience is that first reactions are almost always wrong. So as we confront changes made possible by the capital campaign, let’s consider second and third reactions, too.

Respect diversity. My way is not the only way. Trust the wisdom of the body.

Do not let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Let adherence to policy encourage vigor, not rigor mortis.

These are my suggestions; you can come up with your own. But let’s move forward with renewed energy and confidence.


Posted on January 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm in Featured Content.

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