After participants offered their dreams for Bryn Athyn, both individually and as a group, the work of our Dream Summits was to bring those shared hopes into clearer focus. If we could imagine that our hopes would be more fully realized, say in 5 years, what would be different in Bryn Athyn? What would their engagement look like? The results of this were a series of aspiration statements that provide an outline of the future of the BAC community, as envisioned by all of those who have joined in this effort! Here are the 14 aspiration statements, which are the foundation for the next step, a Design Summit. Join the conversation about these on our Facebook Appreciative Inquiry Group.
1. Fiscal Responsibility
It’s a two way street: There is a culture of giving in which an extraordinary number of community members are contributing time, talent, and treasure because the Bryn Athyn Church is recognized as wisely allocating the resources with which they are entrusted.
Submitted by Hayley Gunther, Stewart Asplundh, Robert Bedford, Sylvia Cooper, Ron McQueen, Rob Nash and Thayer Pendleton
2. Welcoming Church
We are a church that welcomes and nurtures all newcomers and members. Everyone has a role in welcoming all people into the community. We provide many gateways for people to find the church, such as a welcome center, internet, programs that meet people’s needs, Cathedral events, and educational institutions. We have a facilitator who connects people to a meaningful place within the Bryn Athyn Church community, where they feel needed, valued, and respected. We embrace a variety of people by providing a clear smooth path to a home in the community as well as offering support in their areas of need.
Submitted by Donna Carswell, Erik Buss, Debbie Cook, Jacquie Coyle and Janna Lindsay
3. Women and Men Sharing Leadership
Based on both gender’s understanding of the Word, leadership opportunities in the Bryn Athyn Church are equally shared among women and men, including ordination, preaching, teaching, administration, and ministering to human needs. The female/male model is seen, heard, and felt in all decisions, worship services, and events.
Submitted by Gail Steiner, Julie Conoran, Jennifer Pronesti, Michelle Synnestvedt, Solomon Keal and Tirah Keal
4. Broad Influence and Transparency in Decision Making
In 2022 our community has strong sense of trust in our leadership and in the various community organizations because they use decision-making processes which are orderly, transparent, charitable and respect confidentiality when necessary. We use decision–making processes that provide:
- prior knowledge of pending decisions
- the identity of the decision-makers
- opportunities for input
- clear communication of decisions made
- avenues for feedback
Community support of organizations is strong due to these charitable decision-making processes.
Submitted by Lucas Mergen, Vera Glenn, Brett Buick and Claire Bostock
5. Community Center
We have a beautiful, centrally located hub/haven that connects people within and without community. It is a place that warmly welcomes all. This center provides information about what opportunities are available in the community. There is plenty of space for a variety of uses and growth. (and coffee!!!)
Submitted by Rebecca Jackson, Janet Simons, Nina Finkeldey, Danna Kistner, Nick Rose, Sarah Headsten, Greta Odhner, Christa Bedford, Will Merrell, Susie Andrews and Ann Buss
6. Variety of Spiritual Practices
The Bryn Athyn Church, in 2022, will have:
A variety of worship services to meet needs, (spiritual, and social support) of individuals, families and all age groups, including services which meet needs for more intimate connectedness with the LORD and with the neighbor, and in less formal settings.
Also informal lay services.
Opportunity for worship participants to have a part in planning.
The cathedral as a great asset for:
- Beautiful services providing worship, instruction, celebration and beautiful music from both the choir and musicians and from the congregation.
- Welcome to visitors and social connection.
- Tours with information about the New Church, the history, features, architecture and religious symbolism of the building, and available literature in the book room.
- Special services open to the wider community at times of great celebration or tragedy.
- Places for healing (AA, Widows, grief, loss, etc.).
- Availability of pastoral contact.
- Live streaming of services to shut-ins (with or without pastoral follow up) and to the world at large.
- Holiday celebration services (tableaux, special Easter services with music, etc., open to the wider community where feasible).
- Spiritual growth groups (e.g., Rise Above It, Caring for Marriage weekends, Journey *programs, Laurel, Jacob’s Creek, To Live Before I Die).
- Selective, appropriate use of practices from other churches or similar sources (e.g., Stephen Ministry, meditation, etc.).
The Bryn Athyn Church, in 2022, will have a variety of worship services to meet needs, (spiritual, and social support) of individuals, families and all age groups, including services which meet needs for more intimate connectedness with the LORD and with the neighbor, and in less formal settings. Also informal lay services.
Submitted by Fred Odhner
7. Service & Volunteering
We are honoring and engaging the community in service and volunteering opportunities. We have a highly visible, dynamic structure and staff in place to match people with individual opportunities to serve, as well as to organize regular large scale community service functions. The community glows with charity and the doctrine of use, giving people a place in ministry, and serving the neighbor.
Submitted by Rob Andrews, Doreen Carey, Dave Deibert, Erin Duka, Don Fitzpatrick, Dave Frazier, Gerald Hurst, Thomas Rehorst and Dianna Synnestvedt
8. Involved Young People
We, the Bryn Athyn Church Community in 2022, fill meaningful leadership roles with youth, beginning with adolescence, even outside of school settings, and support spiritual community for young adults as they transition away from school settings. We embrace variety and welcome open dialogue in the context of an affirmative attitude toward the Bryn Athyn Church. We communicate through language and technologies relevant to youth. We host common ground activities such as interdenominational choirs, concerts, Sunday School, church camps, gatherings etc. We encourage personal exploration of the Word.
Submitted by Joralyn Echols, Nathan Odhner, Joel Glenn, Ken Crowther, Helen Kennedey, Laurie Horan, Rebekah Maddock and Churck Lindsay
9. The Lord/Word as the Center of Our Lives
The Lord is the center of our lives. We make this manifest through prayer, worship, instruction, and the reading and application of His Word in our lives, both individually and as a community. We ask that the Lord be present in our decisions, words, and actions, and that we visibly live according to the Two Great Commandments: to love the Lord with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
We bring this to earth in a variety of ways, such as:
- Homes, schools, and congregational workplaces all dedicate time to read the Word, and the Church is the bond between these realms.
- Passion for the Lord's Word at home gives children a sense of purpose from an early age.
- Schools honor community worship times in their activities calendars. They teach students to study the doctrines, and to charitably and thoughtfully discuss how those doctrines apply to their lives. They hold them accountable to living according to them, and provide opportunities to serve the neighbor.
- In our workplaces and administration, every meeting begins with a reading from the Word and a prayer. Leaders bring their understanding of the doctrines to the table when making decisions on key issues. Charity underlies and shapes our communication.
- Members are encouraged to take the truth out and apply it as they are led, knowing the Bryn Athyn Church is there to nurture them when needed.
- Internally, the society encourages groups that mimic smaller societies. These groups use the Grand Man image to interact and to find a niche for everyone.
- Individuals make a personal commitment to attend public worship. Cross-generational gatherings based around food and service are held frequently, which increase a sense of community. Members are fed and fulfilled at Church, and make involvement a high priority.
Submitted by Ayisha Synnestvedt, Alison Jackson, Andrea Cranch, Anna Cole, Bill Buick, Brian Henderson, Heidi Thomas , Jennifer Cole , Phil Schnarr and Ruth Zuber
10. Supported and Expanded Universal Education Efforts
Given that the Lord has created each individual for uses both here and in His Spiritual Kingdom, in 2022 the Bryn Athyn community recognizes that all people are intrinsically learners. We offer integrated, authentic, personal, affordable, and broad-based learning choices and opportunities. These choices are developmentally appropriate, and foster excitement, creativity, and cooperation, inspiring the individual’s affections and leading to useful service.
Submitted by Leah Rose, Barbara Doering , Kirsten Cronlund, Paige Austin, Eric Carswell, Peter Mergen, Cynthia Walker and Sheila Daum
11. Inclusive Community
In 2022 we have grown in size and variety because our community is a culture of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” - the Golden Rule in action. We embody the Good Samaritan, loving the person in front of you and doing good. We value variety of people and ideas, and nurture and support people in being who and what they are. We are intentional about how we maximize the strength of variety and inclusion in all that we do - every part of our community - Board, volunteers, families, staff, etc. We foster the ideal of inclusion throughout the community through spiritual practices, leadership, education and advocacy. We are recognized as a supportive neighbor by the wider community.
Submitted by Aurelle Genzlinger, Nita Holmes, Martha Pitcairn, JJ Nash, Lindy Bochneak, Mary Grubb, Kyle Genzlinger and Anna Cole
12. Wise Use of Land
We have a comprehensive community planning and land-use policy co-created by residents, the Academy, the Bryn Athyn Church, The Lord’s New Church, and the borough government that includes:
- a defined optimal population size for schools and borough resident density
- preservation of open space
- preservation of historic properties/landscapes
- adaptive zoning for existing buildings
- intentionally designed, affordable “pocket” housing
- continuing care facility for elderly/challenged
- commercial “main street”
- educational farm for community and all schools
- pedestrian/bicycle friendly paths and roads
Submitted by Elise Genzlinger, Greg Jackson, Pam Orr, Burt Friesen, Rae Friesen, Dean Holmes, Siri Hurst and Lynn Genzlinger
13. Supporting the International Church
The Bryn Athyn Community offers two-way education through face-to-face and distance learning experiences, in partnership with the world-wide Church. Bryn Athyn supports building strong, dynamic international Church communities spiritually, intellectually, and economically. As an indication of this the Bryn Athyn Community always refers to itself as the International Center of the General Church. It institutionalizes this by developing a technological infrastructure that makes the community the communications and service hub of the church. In decision making the impact on the International Church is always taken into consideration thereby weaving the world wide church together and strengthening it.
Submitted by Jane Williams-Hogan and Howard Thompson
14. Improved Relationships Across All Bryn Athyn Institutions
We are a thriving community of institutions united around our mutual purpose of teaching, sharing, and living the Heavenly Doctrines of the New Jerusalem Church.
We organize and collaborate regularly to support common goals.
We nurture our relationships by welcoming a variety of perspectives to inform our decisions.
Submitted by Sean Connelly, Jodi Carr, Dain Kistner, Jenny Maddock and Michele Zoeckler Odhner