“First Church Vitality Process is Spiritual and Physical”
First Church, Congregational, on the Square in Downtown Painesville since 1810, has been involved in a physical restoration process over the past several years. The most visible and recent aspect of the restoration are the replacement steps, those at the front and side of the church, facing the Veteran’s Park and Mentor Avenue.
Along with the physical changes, First Church, which is literally the “first church” and oldest church in Lake County, has been involved in a refocus of its mission and responsibilities. The process has been labeled as a “vitality process” in which all members look at where and how the church may improve itself, according to Rev. Tom Cofer, senior pastor. Rev. Cofer has outlined the process within his forthcoming September sermons.
- September 10: “Why a Vitality Process?” Scripture: Acts 17:16-33 Throughout its existence, whether we realize it or not, the church has encountered cultural changes, shifts, and challenges, it has changed to respond to them, and today is no different. We look at our location and culture and realize that there are ways in which we are called to change…not change the message but simply to change the way it is packaged.
- September 17: “We are the Hosts, Not the Guests” Scripture: 1 Peter 4:7-11 As a part of the vitality process, it is important to remember that we are all called to extend radical hospitality and welcome not just to one another, but to anyone who visits us. We are all of one mission, as evidenced by our congregational mission and vision statements, that is to welcome, minister, teach, and serve.
- September 24: “Brass Tacks—What this Means for Us Specifically” Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 We have undertaken some changes as a result of the Vitality Process. Some of those changes being a new church software (Breeze), sanctuary projection units, fake money in the sanctuary pews, adding a vision statement and changing our mission statement.
“We will also look at how this process continues to call us to make changes as we move into the future,” Rev. Cofer says.
First Church Congregational, except for Advent and some during Lent and Holy Week, will be moving away from the Revised Common Lectionary and going towards more theme based sermons. “For instance, October’s theme will be ‘The Politics of Jesus,’ and I think it will be interesting and may lead us to some interesting and moving reflections and discussions”, he adds.