February 4, 2016

On behalf of the LABC Long Range Planning Committee I am happy to announce that we have entered into an agreement with The Reverend Jim Kitchens of the Center for Healthy Congregations to lead the entire congregation in a series of discussions that will result in the drafting of a new Strategic Plan for our church. The last Strategic Plan was implemented in 2010 and resulted in several important initiatives including our commitment to community organizing as a partner with Oakland Community Organizations, a handbook of financial policies and procedures and our current staffing pattern.

The dates for our congregational conversations are yet to be set, but they will be part of 3-4 after-worship luncheons in the fall of this year. As the dates become available I hope you will prioritize them. The honest, thoughtful, prayerful, faithful participation of many will be a lasting gift to the family called Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. The themes for these conversations will be: A Vision Grounded in Our Past, A Vision Tied to Our Present and A Vision Leading Us into the Future.

In addition to some significant opportunities for strengthening the ties that bind and further developing the skill sets of our leaders, the goals of this endeavor will be:

  • Clarify the congregation’s unique identity and giftedness
  • Determine areas of focus to build upon the congregation’s current strengths
  • Determine areas for future mission and ministry
  • Develop ministry goals and action plans to guide the congregation in fulfilling its calling in the next 5-7 years.

I am most pleased that Jim, a long-time friend and respected colleague, will be able to lead us in this significant undertaking. Having begun his ministry as the Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church when John Turpin was the Senior Minister, Jim knows Oakland. Having served as the Pastor at Community Presbyterian Church of Davis, Jim knows California congregations. Having written a book published by the Alban Institute, The Postmodern Parish, Jim knows the changes and challenges that congregations face; having worked as a consultant with churches across the nation, he knows that there is no such thing as a one size fits all vision. Instead, he knows that vision emerges from each church’s unique history, identity, context and call. In considering Jim we talked with the churches he has worked with and is currently working with. In my notes from those conversations are these words from the Treasurer of a very large Lutheran church near Philadelphia. “Jim was a delight … he was insightful … he came and conducted two full days of interviews with us … he listened intently and then told us exactly what we needed to hear. We are much more functional as a result of his skillful work.”

I write well in advance of the congregation-wide conversations so that together we can begin to prepare for this endeavor. More importantly I write to build energy, even excitement for participation in this process. It holds much promise. It will help secure our vision and our vitality. It will help insure that there is a ministry worthy of the longrespected name Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church at the corner of Lakeshore and Mandana for years to come. I look forward to walking the road with you. To, in the words of Brian McLaren, “making the road by walking it.”

Peace,

Jim H.

The members of the Long Range Planning Committee are: Paige Bence, Paul Keener, Sandra Lee, Casey Mitchell, Sheila Sims, Leon Taylor, Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, Pastor Tanner and Pastor Hopkins.