November 5, 2017 Update
Process of Discernment:
Over the past 3 months, starting the week after the Congregational Meeting on August 4th, the Cornerstone Session (Elders) have been in a season of discernment. This has not been passive but intentional and guided through the use of Paul Cornwell, who is a coach for churches in transition and has worked with Cornerstone in Peacemaker training. We have tried to be diligent, thorough, and prayerful in seeking the Lord’s direction and will. We totaled 52 hours of group time in this process and many more hours in preparation.
Here is the process that we went through, developed and guided by Paul Cornwell:
Phase 1 – Individual/Heart Focus
Many hours of preparation work on our own desires and demands, our hopes and dreams (some good, some self-focused), prayer for ourselves and the others on the session, and culminating in a 2 minute description of where we are and what we hope to get out of these transition meeting.
Phase 2 – Core Discussion
Created a list of Core Questions to be discussed, categorized them and then worked through each question ONLY discussing the question from the angle of our hearts, the congregations needs, options, and thoughts. We were not making decisions.
We created a list of 45 questions which needed to be discussed many with multiple sub questions under them.
Examples – How do we care for CPC’s needs by our communication during this process? What transition model is best for Cornerstone? How do we make sure Cornerstone’s day-to-day operations are seamless during this transition? What is the timeline for Chris’ transition? How do we care for the Vogels and Sinnards during this season of transition?
Phase 3 – Action Plan
Created a plan that outlined what we will do, what motivates these actions, taking into account who will be impacted by these actions and what goals we seek to accomplish through the plan. This is the Transition Plan put on paper.
Phase 4 – Implementation Plan
How will the Action Plan be implemented? Who will be sharing? When? What will be caring to share? How often? And many other questions were considered during this phase.
Opportunities to Partner in Prayer:
Since communicating last, the time the Session has spent together has been very productive and spiritually uniting.
Thankful for Paul Cornwell’s coaching and leading us through the planning and development of the transition implementation plan.
That the Holy Spirit has been active and leading the Session through very challenging discussions and decisions. We as a Session and church are better off for it.
Very thankful for the Session families; for their patience, support, understanding, love and prayers through the long hours of service and labors of love.
There are many more details to be finalized on the transition implementation plan before sharing across the whole congregation.
Pray for the time leading up to and during the next Session meeting on November 16th. A lot of work is in process, with limited time to finish the work.
The Session and Deaconate will meet together later this month to review the first draft of the transition implementation plan. Pray this time will be productive, honoring to our Lord and Savior, and a sweet time of collaboration and working together.
December 3rd is our first (of many) opportunities to hear more about the transition implementation plan as all the details thoughtfully come together over the months to come. Pray this time will be informative, well attended, and lead by the Holy Spirit.
There will be opportunities for the congregation to be very active in the transition implementation plan in the near and distant future. Please be praying how God will use you and impress upon your heart to take advantage of the many opportunities that will be available, especially through prayer
Continue to pray for your leaders and each other through this transition. It is hard to see our Senior Pastor of over two decades be called away to a new and exciting call. All of us will need each other’s support and encouragement through this time.
Upcoming Dates of Transition:
November 16th – Session Meeting, finalizing immediate details, and plans.
November 19th – Session and Deaconate meeting to discuss leadership and plan
December 3rd – Updating the Congregation, during the service, on Transition Plans.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Brothers, pray for us.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-25
August 20, 2017 Update
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
The life of Abraham is the story of all of our lives…a journey of faith, trusting in God’s sovereign hand who leads and guides. When we read of it in Genesis, we may be enamored of Abraham’s trust of God’s call, wondering if that can be true of us. Yet, we have no other choice, but to trust.
At Cornerstone’s first public service on September 13, 1992, Chris’ sermon was from Genesis 12, explaining Cornerstone’s new journey as a church. This September 3rd, when Chris returns from vacation, we will open to that passage once again as we roll out our vision, beginning a dialogue as to Cornerstone’s next chapter of her journey.
Unlike Abraham, our journey is one in which we have the benefit of further revelation, of a greater degree of certainty about our lives. Nevertheless, as we are but limited creatures, lacking the omnipotence of our gracious God, there is a mix of what we know and do not know. What do we know that God is doing in Cornerstone?
Andrew Whitaker, after 2 ½ years of faithful ministry is seeking a new call. Andrew came to us from seminary, was ordained here, and served us well, not only in worship, but as he invested himself in our lives. He will be missed, but we send him out on the journey God is calling Christiana and him to follow.
- His last Sunday here will be September 24th.
- There will be a gathering on the 24th to say goodbye. The time and place TBD.
- The session is now discerning what our next step will be as we seek to fill that role. Please pray for us.
Chris Vogel, after more than 25 years of service is beginning his transition to his next work in Wisconsin. We hear and see Chris’ passion for training the next generation of leaders. As momentum has mounted, Chris is following God’s guidance and his heart on this new journey.
- While Chris’ transition begins, his work at Cornerstone has not now ended. He remains Cornerstone’s Senior Pastor and is her primary preacher at this time.
- There is much we do not know about this transition
- We do not yet know the length of this transition or who will be at the helm of this Body in the future.
- We do know God calls us on a journey and guides our steps even if we do not know where they lead. Change is hard, but God is good.
- Please pray for God to guides us all, especially the Session, to make wise and healthy choices, as He has through our 25 years.
- We, your Session, are committed to communicate with you in a timely and clear fashion. We are crafting a plan for healthy communication. Likewise, please communicate with us. Remember, we don’t have all the answers, but our God does.
- Ask your elders and pastors questions. We are here to listen and talk, but please refrain from empty speculation or gossip.
- What we do know is that, just as Chris was called to plant Cornerstone, he is now called to have a hand in the formation of the next generation of planters here in Wisconsin. Please pray for him…and us, as we participate and benefit from his work with us in the past and moving forward into the future.
Ben Sinnard has transitioned from Assistant to Associate Pastor. He has been and will continue to be a godly guide for all of us. He, with Chris, will have a voice in the transition as Cornerstone seeks her next Senior Pastor.
- Pray for Ben as he assumes more of the responsibilities as Andrew journeys on and in light of Chris’ path of transition.
- Encourage Ben as he seeks God’s guidance along this journey.
Depending on how one is wired, a journey may be exhilarating or frightening. For many of us, it is a combination of both. We have a firm and certain hope that, in Christ, this journey is one God designed for our good and not harm. Again, we kindly request that you pray for us, your elders, that we, fallen creatures, redeemed by God’s grace, will know the direction God has for us in His Word and by His Spirit.
We know these transitions may create a number of different emotions in each of you. They have in us. We want you to know that you can always reach out to us, grab coffee with one of us or chat on the phone. Please let us know if we can help you as we walk though this together.
Let us all continue to look to Him as we take these next steps of faith, for we are all looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Until that time, our new vision remains clear, that, by God’s grace, Cornerstone is:
Renewed by the Gospel
To serve one another
To love Waukesha County
Like Abraham, we are blessed by God to be a blessing. Let us join in prayer to that end, for His glory and the expanse of His kingdom. To God alone be all praise.
In the Hands of our Risen Savior,
The Session of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church