Strategic Direction in a Time of Transition

Something is happening in our church. We have a steadily growing group of new members representing the age of young families. In addition, our worship-bulletins show in the back that weekly giving is meeting Consistory’s budget projections for this year.

Nevertheless, we are far away from using every pew of the church! The sanctuary was originally designed to accommodate 1,200 worshippers. Redesign after the fire brought the number down to a little over 600.

But we are smaller yet! Since 1990, our attendance has dipped to less than 50 worshippers on an average Sunday. Consequently, building maintenance has been an increasing burden – financially and in terms of the volunteer hours spent. Consistory’s current projection of the 2013 budget deficit hovers at just below $100,000.

Past consistories have addressed this growing dilemma with a variety of means. Three times, we cooperated closely with other churches and even explored the possibility of church union. Then we opened our buildings to a variety of community groups. Finally, we committed to the current sanctuary reconfiguration project.

Shari-Brink-PortraitOur Consistory today feels that more needs to be done. In order to spur on a creative process of strategic planning and direction finding, it has signed a contract with Rev. Shari Brink, a consultant who also serves at Marble Collegiate Church in NYC as their Minister for Strategic Advancement. Like FRC, Marble Collegiate has a rich and long history, belonging to a group of churches in the city that are the oldest in our denomination. At Marble and elsewhere Shari has helped guide leadership in discovering God’s desired future for the church and then implement it in strategic ways.

With Shari’s leadership, Consistory will review its current course and chart a map for the future, seeking to discover God’s future for us as a church, both what God is already doing and the new things God may want to do. Our work together will include a Consistory retreat in October, a visit by Shari to worship and coffee hour, interviews with church leaders, and the development of action steps. A review of all pertinent documents from our church will accompany these steps.

In the end, we hope to have something like a road map for the future, so that we may once again enjoy revitalized ministry and financial sustainability. Consistory is excited about this prospect, and we hope that you are, too.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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