Our Mission Focus
There are many theories as to what an organizational mission statement should look like. One bit of common wisdom is that it should be short and to the point. It should be easily remembered. It should also be clear and easily understood. What good is a mission statement that needs explaining? A good mission statement not only helps to chart a path forward for an organization, but it also sheds light on the key identity of the organization in the present. That is, it identifies both what an organization already is and
what the organization intends to accomplish, and become. It identifies your strengths and calls forth your best potential.
Here’s the focused version of the Mission Statement:
Caring for each other.
Improving our community.
Three sentences comprise our newly focused First Church Congregational Mission Statement. Only nine words! As the statement evolved, the Board was clear that there is nothing new in this statement. Everything in the refocused statement is found in our existing, more detailed mission statement. And in the same way, it feels like a good description of who we already are. That is, if you want to tell a new visitor, or a neighbor, or a colleague, or anybody else about First Church, these nine words would give them a good idea of what they’ll find if they come and join us for worship, fellowship or service.
In the few months since this process began, I’ve been trying out these nine words in my own work as Senior Pastor of the church. It’s helped to guide the crafting of my sermons and has influenced how I pray, both in worship and meetings and in my personal prayer life. It has guided my planning, both in the short and long term. And it has become essential to how I describe our church to colleagues and friends, to leaders in the community, and to people who inquire about the church. I keep the words before me all the time. They are a starting point for me, a guide. They offer a test and a measure. They remind me of who I want to be as a person of faith, and my posture as a citizen of the world.
~ Pastor Bill Ingraham
Our Mission in Action
We held a five-week Bible Study during Lent.
We experimented with different styles of worship, diverging from lectionary topics when it felt right, introducing a drama style service and using a broader range of music, instruments and musical styles.
We met with advisors from the UCC, including Debbie Allen Gline (Christian Education), Jonathan New (Stewardship & Planned Giving) and Associate Conference Minister Wendy Vander Hart (Membership Development).
More than 10 of us attended the tri-conference Super Saturday workshops in Wilbraham, MA, and 8 of us attended the W.I.S.E. Mental Health Awareness conference in Andover, MA.
Caring for Each Other.
We created the REACH Ministry to help us systematically identify and assist members in need. Over the course of the year, our REACH team assisted more than 30 members of our community.
We created the REACH Fund to help financially support members that experience a sudden and dramatic change in their financial situation.
Prior to forming the REACH Fund, we used money donated by Tom Longworth to address the urgent financial needs of our members.
We helped each other in countless other ways — providing guidance, emotional and financial support, delivering meals when needed, visiting those in need of a visit, and just generally being a loving, caring community.
Improving our Community.
We increased our collaboration with our community partners, including Neighbors in Need, Methuen Arlington Neighborhood (MAN) and the Festival of Trees. Notably, more than 40 of us attended the annual Festival of Trees Gala.
We continued our leadership role in the weekly Neighbors in Need Evening Food Pantry in Methuen to feed the hungry right here in our community. Our members helped to create the food pantry, hold key leadership roles, and have staffed the food pantry since its inception almost 18 months ago. Our food pantry is now the largest food pantry in the Merrimack Valley, having recently served 114 families in one night.
We provided over 175 meals to the Neighbors in Need food pantry last Thanksgiving, and more than  cans of soup this past February as part of the Souper Bowl for Caring (and had some fun competing with each along the way)
Pastor Bill received the “Volunteer of the Year Award” from the Merrimack Valley YMCA. The YMCA highlighted Pastor Bill’s enthusiasm, his support of the youth and children of the YMCA, and especially his efforts as Chair of the Methuen Branch Annual Campaign.
~ Stephen Boyko, FCC Board Chair