Deep Water Town Hall Summary

Everyone is commended for their continued interest and comments around our Deep Water Process. After our Deep Water weekend, we offered two Town Hall meetings in order to help clarify the report and answer questions and concerns. It might helpful to summarize some questions that arose at the Town Hall meetings. Here are a few frequently asked questions:

1. Who initiated the Deep Water process? 

The Deep Water process is based on a process called the Healthy Church Initiative, (HCI), which is a process many congregations are going through in to consider ways that they might be more faithful and effective. Our own Church Council initiated this process. Back in the fall, we began to have conversations around our previous strategic plan, our direction as a church, and the organization of our leadership. It was apparent that while our church has many wonderful and thriving missions and ministries, it was difficult to articulate a clear vision of where we are headed as a church. Our previous mission statement was created many years ago.  We set about considering possibilities of how we might regain a sense of vision and direction. Marg Kutz, clergy coach for Alan Combs, offered to help put together a team and a process, as she has been involved with HCI work in other United Methodist congregations, and she has seen the process bear fruit. Our Church Council approved working with Marg to bring together our Deep Water Process. 

2.  Why did the Deep Water Team suggest focusing on a different time and/or location, and not building a bigger building or moving Genesis to the sanctuary? 

The goal of the Deep Water process was to listen effectively to the voice of and data of our congregation, so that the team could echo back to us what they heard. Essentially, they suggested we avoid building or moving Genesis into the sanctuary because they heard those two possibilities as major obstacles and wanted to help us avoid options that might prevent us from developing a timely solution to the overcrowding issue. Buildings require a great deal of conversation and significant fundraising, along with the reality that we are at this point essentially landlocked. A conversation about a major capital project would extend a conversation that is already overdue for action. 

Regarding moving the Genesis service to the sanctuary, they had good reason to suggest we avoid that option as well. On one end of the spectrum, we have worshippers for whom making the changes to the Sanctuary necessary to accommodate the Genesis service would be something they could not abide. On the other end of the spectrum, we have worshippers for whom Genesis ceases to be Genesis if it is held in the Sanctuary. Essentially, part of the ethos of Genesis is being in a different kind of space. The Deep Water team thought it would be a good idea to avoid these solutions.

Their recommendation is that we focus on the possibility for a new time for Genesis in the present location and/or the possibility of adding an additional worship service at a new location. Neither of these possibilities would be without risk and challenges, but both of them would leave the current Genesis and Sanctuary services intact, while allowing us to deal adequately with overcrowding and to have a more consistent vision of our contemporary worship.

3. Where the recommendations call for teams, who picks the teams? How do we ensure appropriate skills and diversity on the teams? 

Our Senior Pastor will create the initial list of persons to invite, which is then brought to Church Council for approval. The Church Council will have the opportunity to provide a check on those suggestions to ensure that a variety of viewpoints as well as specific gifts and skills are present in each team. 

Our Church Council is where the accountability resides for “follow through” on the recommendations if they are approved. Church Council is made up of the chairs of several committees, as well as people who oversee ministry areas in the church. They are nominated by our Lay Leadership and Nominations Committee, though nominations are accepted from the floor of Charge Conference. Those nominations are voted on at Charge Conference, and those who are newly elected take office in January. If you would like to see who currently serves on our Church Council, you can find it on our website at or you can request a copy from our church office at or (540) 389-5459.

Many have noted that the deadlines seem like they are rather soon. It is true that the deadlines are aggressive, but that is intentional in order to put us to work with a sense of urgency. Many of the areas of concern addressed by the recommendations have been concerns for several years, and it is our hope that we can move toward discernment and action to address those concerns. If we fail to meet a deadline, we will have to adjust accordingly, holding ourselves accountable to the work to which we are called. In reality, even if we do not approve the recommendations, the areas of concern will still need to be addressed, and the gift of the recommendations is to put some concrete timelines on that work. Church Council will be approving any actions. As the work progresses, each committee will be responsible for communicating updates to the congregation through the newsletter as well as a blog we are working to set up on our webpage.

Finally, some wanted a summary of what we will be voting on during our Church Conference on June 3 at 10:00 AM. A brief summary follows, but we will be voting on the recommendations as they are found in the report, not the summary of the report.

Recommendation 1

  • By October 1, 2018, the Senior Pastor, his coach Marg Kutz, and a team the Senior Pastor selects will ensure there is a new aligning vision statement for FUMC.
  • The Finance Committee will formulate a 2019 budget that is aligned with this new vision.
  • By Easter 2019, The Staff Parish relations committee will review current staffing to assess alignment around the vision, update job descriptions accordingly, and all new hires to be made with the updated statement and aligned descriptions. This work will include an effort to reconcile the current disparity between staff resources among the different worship services.
  • Church Council will read contemporary literature on aligning our church with the vision.

Recommendation 2

  • The Senior Pastor will create a team of 5-9 people who have an interest in contemporary worship, approved by Church Council, whose task is to review possible options for solution to Genesis overcrowding, that is aligned with the vision, and to develop a model for contemporary music
  • This work should be completed by November 1, 2018 with plans to implement by spring 2019.

Recommendation 3

  • SPRC is charged to consider hiring a part time communications staff person
  • Senior Pastor will have conversations with other Large Church pastors about how the communicate effectively with their congregations.
  • Church will consider placing electronic screens throughout the building to offer congregational announcements and updates.

Recommendation 4

  • Form a team of 8-12 people (including staff responsible for spiritual formation of children, youth, and adults) by appointed by the Senior pastor and approved by the Church Council
  • This team will review existing discipleship efforts and then seek to deepen the work and develop it into an intentional process that makes and multiplies disciples.
  • Team will meet at least once with Marg Kutz, Pastor Alan’s Clergy Coach, and may also consult with other churches
  • Work to address and create discipleship growth opportunities for new members and parents for basic instruction on living the Christian life.
  • All of this would be developed by December 1, 2018, and recommended to the Church Council, to be implemented in 2019.

Recommendation 5

  • FUMC will seek opportunities for connection and service with those beyond the congregation in our growing community, using appropriate tools and learning new ways to be church in our community.
We are looking forward to the Church Conference on June 3 at 10:00 AM in the Fellowship Hall, where we will have the opportunity to vote on these recommendations. In order to vote, you must be a member of the church and you must be present at the Church Conference. Our goal is to get 70% of members present and voting to approve the recommendations. And finally, please continue to pray for our Church, and for the Church Conference.

Rev. Alan T. Combs

Lead Pastor, First UMC


Charles N. Dorsey
Church Council Chair

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