Vision for Mission (V4M) : update from Mark and Robin

Mark Patzman writes,

After a little “convincing” by Dean Penny, the sixteen members of the newly formed Vision for Mission (V4M) Committee convened for their first meeting on September 27.

What the heck is the Vision for Mission Committee, you might reasonably ask? Well, Dean Penny and the Chapter have commissioned a yearlong study to discern where we are as a congregation and what it is that we are called to be as the “Cathedral 4 the City”…and then develop a 5-year plan on how to get from here-to-there. Once developed, the Chapter will approve and, with the help of the Staff, implement. In other words, it’s a strategic planning committee.

So, the committee gathered for its first meeting in the Guild Room on a beautiful Saturday morning. What better way to spend half of one’s weekend? Actually, it was an awesome day. Led by our Dean and two professional strategic planning consultants (Allan Dorsey and Donna Watson), we began with basic introductions (over coffee and donuts, of course….we are Episcopalians after all!). What a phenomenally diverse committee ( representing a very broad swath of the congregation…female & male, gay & straight, old & young, clergy & layperson, 8:00/10:30/1:00 services, long-term and new members, etc. Then we discussed each of our expectations for the day (mine was that we actually started getting into the meat of discerning the values that represent the Cathedral). The morning wrapped up with the Allan and Donna providing a basic understanding of the strategic planning process concepts and definitions.

After a great lunch, we really got into the “stuff” of it! During the Chapter’s retreat in August, four teams created collages using magazine photos to visually tell their interpretation of the Cathedral’s values. Each of these were presented to the V4M committee. We then played a game of “values rummy” by using “sticky notes” to jot the values that jumped out at us from each presentation, as many as necessary. These were then collated into 28 basic values. In a fun exercise, we were pretty easily able to further distill these down to five core values (note that this was an exercise and not the final determination of the V4M committee’s recommended values…that discernment process is still ongoing). Finally, we signed up for one of several sub-committees that will do the bulk of the work for the rest of this phase…Forum development, data gathering/current-state analysis, and values visioning.

This type of strategic planning process is normally accomplished over an 18-month timeframe, but we’re condensing it to just 12-months. We are able to do this because a lot of the data that we have from our recent Dean search is still relevant and thus we can compress the timeline. While we are daunted by the work remaining to be done, the entire committee finished the day energized and enthused by the task before us. We have a project timeline (again, see the web site at and a communications plan that we will be using to keep the whole congregation informed. Additionally, we desperately invite your input on what you think we need to include in the Vision for Mission plan that we’ve been tasked to develop. We cannot do this in a vacuum and need your assistance to make it a living document that will guide the Cathedral’s mission life for the next five years.

Check out the October 12 Forum on the Cathedral web site for a summary of what we’ve done so far and where we’ll be going (

Robin Taylor writes

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23 ESV)

As I reflected on the first V4M meeting in September, I was reminded of this passage from Matthew. Members of the V4M group were assembling, timelines were being discussed and agendas being established. Everyone was busy, thinking and planning. I could feel my own apprehension building as the questions swirled in my head: What had I agreed to? What would the process be like? Were we going to get anything productive done today? How would the Cathedral family feel about our work? And speaking of work – how much time would this process entail?

In those moments, I was drifting further and further from being able to hear God’s call in the development of the Cathedral’s master plan. But a funny thing happened as the meeting progressed. All those concerns and anxieties drifted away as I became immersed in the tasks at hand. Our facilitators had come up with a dynamic game for us to play as a way to begin discerning our organizational values. When I started listening to the facilitators and members voices more than I was listening to my own voice, I was better able to hear God’s voice. Allan Dorsey, one of our facilitators said, “Values are discerned by listening to the Holy Spirit, not arbitrarily set by people.” Awesome! If this was in God’s hands, then all I had to do was actively listen and be open to where the Spirit was leading us.

As it happens, I couldn’t have predicted the how the day would unfold and all we would accomplish. I’m profoundly grateful to be part of the process and am looking forward to what the next months will bring, as we set our minds on the things of God to better serve this great church.

Vision for Mission (V4M) is a diverse committee of St Paul’s congregants, gathered for a year-long self-study, to determine who we are and who we want to be.  This process will help develop a strategic plan for the Cathedral.  You can keep up with their activities using this link: V4M

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