Transitional Interim


From the Transition Facilitator

Weekly Updates

August 12, 2020

Recently a clergy colleague who is also a certified yoga instructor gave me a tip. When I'm stressed, I should concentrate on my breath, making my exhalations longer than my inhalations. That's because inhaling activates the sympathetic nervous system, which...

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August 5, 2020

Greetings, all. Rather than writing a blurb this week, I want to share a couple of links. One is to an excellent blog post by a fellow clergyperson/coach and friend, MaryAnn McKibben Dana. She encourages us to operate right now in low battery mode, tending to the...

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July 29, 2020

Have you ever heard the tongue-in-cheek advice, "Don't pray for patience, because then God will give you a chance to develop it"? It turns out that the same is true for flexibility! I have wanted to deepen my ability to be fully present, no matter the circumstances,...

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July 22, 2020

A lot is canceled right now. Walking outdoors - or driving, if the heat or mobility issues make that more appealing - is not. Why not take a prayer walk or drive in your own neighborhood or right around the church? Start in your driveway or in the church parking lot...

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July 15, 2020

Early in the pandemic one of my colleagues made a distinction I've been mulling ever since. When we despair, we take up permanent residence in our grief. In that space we are driven by fear to blame people or circumstances for our troubles, leading to increasing...

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From the Transition Team

As you heard from Laura in last week’s update, the transition team met via Zoom on Sunday, June 28. We, like you, are looking forward to the day we can be back together physically as a church. Although our time apart during the pandemic has been stressful and less...

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Transition Team

Congregational Conversation, Oct. 27

Transition Team Update

Second Congregational Conversation – October 27

This Sunday is our next opportunity to gather for building relationships, discussing the state of the church, and planning for a bright future. Join us in Fellowship Hall immediately after we have been led in worship by FBC’s children. Lunch will be a potato and salad bar. The church will provide potatoes, butter, and salad greens, and the congregation is asked to provide the following:

  • A-J: desserts
  • K-R: cold salads (pasta, fruit, etc.)
  • S-Z: salad and potato toppings (shredded cheese, sour cream, bacon, etc.) and dressings for salad.

Prior to getting your meal or after you finish it, you are encouraged to visit several stations around Fellowship Hall:

  • Nametags. At the last congregational conversation we learned that the assumption that everyone knows each other is not necessarily the case! Visit the nametag station to make a semi-permanent nametag. Associating names and faces helps us develop connections.
  • Photos. Have you ever seen someone at church and searched your brain for that person’s name, only to come up empty? You are not alone. We’ll be taking photos of individuals and family units in order to create a very simple, easily-updatable church directory. When we are confident we know who others are, we are more likely to engage them in conversation and invite them to be part of our ministry small groups.
  • “Where do you live?” map. People come from all over Memphis to attend FBC. You might sit in a pew next to someone who lives on your street and not even realize it. At this station you’ll be able to use pushpins and flags to indicate where in the area you live so that you can reach out to FBC neighbors you didn’t know you had.
  • “How do you connect?” board. There are many small groups within FBC: Sunday School classes, committees, ministry areas, fellowship activities, and more. On this board you can share the ways you connect to others at FBC and note where others find their sense of community.

After we fill our bellies with delicious food, bolster our spirits with good fellowship, and visit the stations described above, parents will be invited to drop their kids off at the playground. Please RSVP to Holly Hatton to reserve your child’s spot. From that point until 2:00 we will engage in table conversation around the following questions:

  1. What or who influenced you to be a part of FBC?
  2. Where are you connected in church life (committees, choir, missions activities, ministries, children’s activities, Sunday School, senior adult ministry, etc.)?
  3. In what ways was it challenging for you to build connections when you started attending FBC? What could the church have done to build your comfort level?
  4. In what areas of church life do you still aspire to become connected? (Discussion leaders will also ask if the participant wants to be contacted by a person who can help them get connected to a specific ministry, class, committee, etc.)

Feel free to mull these questions ahead of time and/or to discuss them in your Sunday School classes. At the congregational conversation, each group will have a designated discussion facilitator to ensure all voices are heard and recorded and to transition the sharing from one question to the next. After the group discussions, there will be a short time of sharing themes with the whole group. (This time is limited for two reasons: 1) the desire to create ample space for everyone to speak and 2) sound system limitations in the Fellowship Hall. The transition team will digest all of the small group notes and share them with the congregation so that you can hear from the whole swath of participants.)

The transition team is excited about this event and your engagement in it! Feel free to contact your transition team members or me (reverendlaura (at) gmail (dot) com) with any thoughts or questions.

Grace and peace, Laura

Congregational Conversation, Sept. 29

Transition Team Update

First Congregational Conversation – September 29

The Transition Team is formed and communicating weekly with Laura Stephens-Reed in order for the members to get to know Laura and each other better. We are all excited about the first congregational conversation and potluck lunch on September 29, which will be after church in the Fellowship Hall from 12 – 2. 

Drinks and meat will be provided by the church. We are asking our members to bring the following items according to the first letter of your last name:

  • A-J: Casserole/Side-dish
  • K-R: Dessert
  • S-Z: Vegetable/Salad

Child Care will be available after luncheon. Please RSVP for childcare to Holly Hatton . Please include your child’s age with your RSVP. 

Church members are invited to bring photos and mementos from past church events to share on a display table. Please make sure names are on the items so that they are returned to their rightful owners after the event.

Please continue to pray for each member of the Transition Team and reach out to anyone of them if you have questions. They are:

  • Shawn Hawkins, chair    
  • Sally Smith
  • David Weatherspoon    
  • Gloria Hodges
  • Mike Ward    
  • Robin Miller
  • Craig Locke    
  • Cherish Mathis
  • April Blankenship    

Please make every effort to attend this important first discussion.


Shawn Hawkins, chair
Transition Team

Congregational Conversations

Transition Team Update

Transition Process and Upcoming Dates

On September 14 the transition team retreat was held under the guidance of Laura Stephens-Reed.

The team’s sessions focused on the interim period our church is experiencing and how the Team can help navigate through this time.

The Team wants the congregation to know we are not a group that will be making decisions about the future. This Team will be leading the entire congregation through a process that will help the church celebrate who they were, identify opportunities for the future and determine what they want to become.

This process will consist of 5 sessions at which we will discuss the following topics:

  • September 29 Heritage
  • October 27 Connections
  • November 17 Missions
  • TBD (January) Leadership
  • TBD (February) Future

The Team encourages you to participate in these discussions. This is your chance to provide input into and help shape what FBC becomes. The Team will strive to listen, be transparent and keep you informed along the way. After the congregation works though the issues outlined above, the Team will have completed its mission and will hand off to a Pastor Search Committee.

Please pray for the Transition Team, the entire FBC family, and get involved. The more ideas, concerns, hopes and dreams for this church we work through, the stronger we will be when we are ready to exit this interim period.

Transition Team Announcement

Transition Team in Place

After tallying votes from the congregation and in consultation with Laura Stephens-Reed, the Committee on Committees is pleased and excited to report a Transition Team is in place. Members of the Team are:

  • Shawn Hawkins, chair    
  • Sally Smith
  • David Weatherspoon    
  • Gloria Hodges
  • Mike Ward    
  • Robin Miller
  • Craig Locke    
  • Cherish Mathis
  • April Blankenship    

The mission of the Transition Team is to lead the congregation through a process of naming who it has been, who it is now, who God is calling it to be, and what it will take to live toward that future story.

Members of the Team will be meeting with Laura for training and preparation for church wide discussions to begin in September. 

Please be in prayer for this Team as they lead the congregation in discussions about who we are as a church and what we want for the future. 

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