Pastor's Letter

February -- 2020



Winter is the perfect precursor for Lent. We quiet our usual busyness and savor a period of rest beneath a blanket of snow. We prepare for the growth of spring followed by summer’s burst of activity. Lent also calls, asking us to engage in introspection and thoughtfulness, a season to appreciate the promise of new life made possible by Jesus’ great sacrifice for each of us. How can we use this time, not only for self-review and redirection but to also thoughtfully consider our future as the body of Christ that is SCF?

It is time to expand on the Strategic Planning Process of 2014. At that time, the three primary questions were as follows: What is God calling SCF to do? Where is SCF going? How will we get there? Our mission statement remains the same: “SCF is committed to being a visible presence of Christian love and unity, growing in faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and witnessing this faith through service to the needs of the community around us and of the world.” One of the primary concerns six years ago is still true today: SCF membership is declining, due primarily to the age-related issues of our congregation. This puts the financial support of our church on the shoulders of fewer members and it is not the path to a sustainable future. We must grow our congregational numbers and therefore, develop a course of action to accomplish this goal.

Housing, where SCF would call our physical home, was not an issue in 2014. SCF and HTCC enjoyed a congenial, respectful relationship with a long term lease in place, a far cry from our current reality. Our current lease term is for only 1 year, with the possibility of renewal for a 2nd year, and each side has a 6-month notice of termination. As the Managing Board sought alternative spaces for worship, music rehearsals, meeting, and office space, it was evident that there is nothing else in the immediate Sunriver area that is adequate for our many needs. The uncomfortable result was to sign a lease extension that quadrupled our basic rent so SCF would continue to have a home. While the Managing Board continues to examine contingency plans, if it were necessary to find other housing for our family of faith, including another inquiry of the owners of Sunriver Aquatics and Fitness, it is time to confirm our choice as a congregation on where our future worship home will be. Are we content to continue as tenants, accepting perhaps new costs or restrictions that we cannot control as the price of comfort, amenities, and familiarity with the HTTC building? Or, is it time to chart our own course by buying, creating and/or building our own physical home—a facility to meet our needs for worship, congregational growth, music performance, office, storage, classroom, and meeting space as well as the ability to host community and special events?

These are heady questions: how do we grow and where will we call home? It is time to define our path forward, to give shape and vision to our future as a congregation. Please use this contemplative season of Lent to consider these important issues and then to speak what is in your heart and on your mind by attending one of the following congregational meetings in the sanctuary: Tuesday, March 3, 10 a.m. to noon; Wednesday, March 11, 2-4 p.m.; or Thursday, March 19, 7-9 p.m. Each session will use the same list of questions as a base to generate discussion. Those unable to participate in a small group will have the opportunity to offer their thoughts via an email survey containing the same questions. The responses will be collected, shared with all, and used as a tool to chart a path forward for SCF. The Managing Board is also seeking the assistance of other members of the congregation who would be willing to act as small group leaders. Thank you for responding to this call to thought, discussion, and action.

Linda Smith
2020 President, SCF Managing Board

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