March 8, 2023 Membership Gathering Recap

A BIG thank you to the 360+ members and attenders who came out to fellowship together this past Wednesday night, March 8! What a joy it was to see so many gathered to lean into our life together as the body of Christ.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner thanks to the many staff and volunteers that prepared and served baked potatoes, chili, desserts, and more. There was plenty of fun, laughter, and learning about Jesus happening in the Kids Ministry Center with our younger kids. Our middle schoolers got to learn about the church and play games together in the Youth Center. The rest engaged in a packed agenda of praise, lament, updates, and prayer.

For those who were unable to join us, below is a recap of what was covered. 

Be sure to mark your calendar now for the next Membership Gathering on the evening of Wednesday, April 19!

Summary of activity

  • Stories of God Moving in our Midst: We heard a few testimonies of how God has ministered in recent days through our church family, including impacts on individual lives for Christ through our recent Made for Missions and Women’s Daytreat events.
  • CHBC Family Welcomes and Goodbyes: Hugh Jones (Elder) introduced over 60 new members who have joined our CHBC family since August of last year. We heard updates and prayer requests from two departing families who are being sent out to love and serve the Lord and others in new places. Led by Wally Turnbull (Elder), we spent some time lamenting the pain and loss and praying blessing over many members who have left in the past year due to ongoing disagreements and struggles within our church family.
  • Themes from the GRACE Report Recommendations: Jay Thomas (Pastor) shared a summary of the overall areas of focus from the GRACE Report recommendations that take into account the past, present, and future, and affirmed our commitment to continue in this work together in the months to come:
    • Repentance and forgiveness – We have and will continue to endeavor, by God’s grace, to both personally and corporately repent of our sin and to seek Biblical forgiveness and, when possible, full reconciliation.
    • Processes for help, safety, advocacy, and healing – We lament the situations where a lack of clarity and ongoing care led our brothers and sisters to a place of frustration, hopelessness, and harm. We are working on setting up clearer pathways, systems, and available people with the help of GRACE and LFM’s recommendations.
    • Policies that are Biblical, effective, and consistently utilized – We are actively working, by God’s grace, to form, write, and utilize policies that reflect Biblical truth and values when it comes to a godly church environment, culture, and systems. We want to utilize the specific skills and giftings within our church and resources outside of it to help craft wise and faithful policies that lead to flourishing for all parts of our body, building us all up together into the temple of God in this world. We have been and will continue working diligently to put policy structures in place based on the recommendations of both Grace and LFM over the past 2 years that can ensure Biblical principles of grace, mercy, truth, compassion, and love are the core DNA of how we interact as the body of Christ, no matter our role.
  • Working Groups Overview and Updates: Erin Bethany (Women’s Minister/Working Groups Lead) shared about the overall plan for ongoing work and progress based on our consultants’ assessments from last year. Here were some highlights:
    • A network of working groups focused on different areas was conceptualized last summer by Kyle McManamy (Elder) in partnership with Consulting Working Group, anticipating the diverse work needed as LFM and GRACE gave their assessments and recommendations.
    • Members include Elders, Deacons, Staff, and lay members with particular experience and roles relevant to leading the work.
    • Currently we have 9 different groups, with some very active and some being formed to take action as the process of implementing changes continues. Timelines of progress and steps vary based on the nature of the work from group to group.
    • Much of their work overlaps and integrates throughout our Elders, Deacons, and staff, AND it intersects with the structural and process recommendations of both our consultant groups. 
    • Important things need to happen and we need to be able to track and communicate progress on them to know we’re moving in the right direction as a church; hence, the following progress updates from four highlighted groups and a commitment to ongoing updates and opportunities to discuss and give feedback at the membership gatherings going forward.
      • Reconciliation Working Group [Julie (Spencer) Raynor, Wally Turnbull, Amy Huffman, Connie Cook, and Erin Bethany]
        • Purpose: We have known and lamented that there has been great concern and wrestling, as well as broken fellowship through the past couple of years in particular. We want to prioritize the PEOPLE, not just the policies or processes in this work of growing and maturing in Christ, both personally and corporately
        • Progress:
          • Coordinating outreach to those who have shared hurt and/or who have struggled with the events of the past couple of years, offering repentance as well as conversation about concerns and healthy steps forward as a church body and a desire to move toward reconciliation where desired (This work has begun and is ongoing)
          • Confirming GRACE recommendations for appropriate apologies and lament have been considered and done, in private and public settings, as able and appropriate
        • Next steps: Looking ahead toward wise policies and processes
          • Working on recommended processes alongside the staff in accordance with GRACE recommendations to make sure we have clear, consistent, and helpful methods in place for the sake of anyone sharing grievances or concerns with our church, no matter their role. Examples of areas of focus include:
            • Examining what is already in place to see what improvements could be made
            • Ensuring there are clear, confidential, and trackable avenues for concerns within the staff structure (Personnel Policies Working Group is leading this)
            • Recommending ongoing training protocols for the staff and leadership to ensure all are familiar with things like trauma-informed care, healthy conflict management, accusations of abuse protocols, and healthy congregational communication in any circumstance (done in concert with multiple other Working Groups and staff)
        • If you have any questions or unresolved concerns, please contact one of us and we would love to set up a time to talk in more depth.
      • Policy Governance Working Group [Margaret Faircloth, Michael Carnahan, Michelle Kirtley, Emily Williams, and Jay Baas]
        • Purpose: To adapt the Policy Governance tool to the unique needs of the Bible Church as a way to clarify roles, responsibilities, expectations, and accountability between elders and staff.
        • Progress:
          • Re: the LFM recommendations we talked about in our member meeting last April, we have had extensive conversations and consultation with LFM and other churches who have used the tool of policy governance in their church contexts successfully
          • Have drafted a new policy manual for the Elder Board to personalize and institute, giving clear directives and delineating roles and responsibilities particularly between Elder Board, Deacon Board, and Staff
        • Next steps:
          • Consulting with Mission Triangle as these operating principles are implemented (Mission Triangle is a local nonprofit that resources other nonprofits in various areas including adopting Board Governance in nonprofit organizations like churches)
          • In accordance with LFM recommendations, moving to a smaller Elder Board (~12-15 members), giving more opportunity for robust discussion and nimble decision-making, mitigating the gap of one hand not knowing what the other hand is doing and allowing full and clear accountability, shepherding, and oversight responsibility for all called as Elders; hoping to adopt this in fullness by June for the commencement of a new term of leadership
      • Personnel Policies Working Group [Jay Baas, Bill Reedy, Tom Bojanski, Jason Portnoy, Greg Omland, Matt Smith, and Erin Bethany + other key consultants]
        • Purpose: Began work in January 2022 to examine the separation processes and documentation in place as well as the Employee Handbook more broadly for other areas that should be added or updated. The team is composed of people from a variety of professional Human Resources backgrounds and organizational experiences to bring expertise and insight to the discussions and processes.
        • Progress so far:
          • Revised guidelines going forward for any employee relationships ending, including a revised departure letter and a revised severance agreement only to be offered in the case of a role elimination. It does not contain any non-disclosure clauses that would prevent anyone from talking to anyone about their time at CHBC, except for confidential information obtained during their tenure such as financial giving records, counseling notes, or children’s health information.
          • We have a draft of revisions to the employee handbook with recommendations for adoption by leadership. Any necessary bylaw changes will be addressed at the annual meeting.
            • Ex: Adding a new parental leave policy (giving parents up to 3 months paid leave when welcoming a new child through birth or adoption)
        • Next steps:
          • Updated grievance and exit processes for staff (responsive to GRACE recommendations) will be incorporated in compliance with elder direction to be outlined in the new Elder Policy Manual
          • Final review and adoption of revised Employee Handbook and employee policies
      • System of Care Working Group [Kim Barrier, Aaron Kirtley, Ginger Carnahan, Carol Younkin, and Jean Fisher, consulting with Ryan McKee and Liz Graham]
        • Purpose: Based on the feedback they received from church members, both LFM and Grace indicated a need to improve congregational care. This working group’s goal was to design a model in which each church member is personally known and cared for, our body is mobilized to care well for one another, and those in leadership positions have more clarity on who is under their personal care.  
        • Progress: We have designed a system that works within a parish framework. Member households are divided into regional groups, or “parishes,” that are based on where they live in the Triangle.
          • Each parish will have a designated Care Team that is made up of an elder, 1-2 deacons, and lay members
          • Each Care Team will be tasked with fostering relationships with parish members and facilitating care and shepherding within the parish.
        • Next steps:
          • Update membership information so parishes are as accurate as possible (Special thanks to Emily Williams for leading this project in conjunction with our staff!)
          • Determine the structural needs of the leadership boards based on how this system of care would impact the roles and expectations of the Deacon Board, Elder Board and Staff. For example, for 16 parishes to have 2 Deacons for each Care Team, it is likely our Deacon Board will need to expand significantly from the current size of 13. The lay elders will likely have 1-2 parishes they are accountable for.
          • Create clear descriptions of Elder and Deacon roles along with necessary strengths and giftings before the new round of nominations takes place this spring
          • Develop a plan for the training and equipping of Care Team members that includes a strategy for Care Team member transitions when their term is complete to ensure consistent and continuous care for our church members.
        • Fuller details and discussion to come on this proposed system of care at the April 19th Membership Gathering! Please come and contribute your wisdom and experience as we try to meet these very tangible needs of our brothers and sisters in the church! 
  • Elder & Deacon Leadership Transitions – Ben Thomason (Elder) shared about Steven King and Robert Smith resigning as elders due to personal needs in this season, and the membership expressed gratitude for their service. Steven King shared remarks about his joy and lament over his tenure as Elder Chair for the past two years. Jay Baas shared a reflection on our steps ahead as a church and his willingness to accept the call to lead through them. A vote was intended for the membership to affirm the Elder Board’s nomination of Jay Baas for the role of Elder, but a point of order was raised on whether ourcurrent bylaws only make provision for new elder affirmation votes in the Annual Business Meeting. Per the bylaws, the Elder Board is empowered to call a temporary officer to serve through the remainder of the term before the next Annual Meeting when a seat is vacated midyear. The Elders clarified that their intent behind calling the vote, though unconventional, was to operate with a higher level of transparency with the membership and honor the spirit of membership affirmation of anyone called to serve as an Elder, though they had discussed this bylaw pathway for Elder appointment prior to calling for the member vote. The Elders chose to instead conduct a poll of the membership present on their desire to affirm Jay Baas in this call to Elder. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of affirming this call, giving the Elders a clear sense of membership support.  The Elders will now proceed in calling Jay Baas as a temporary officer to serve our membership until the Annual Meeting.
  • Table Prayer: Attendees spent some time lifting these things and others in prayer together.