Dear Church, when I joined the Highland staff (nearly two years ago!), part of my responsibilities included analyzing our mission structure. I have learned from our mission and justice leaders that this work—locally, globally, and systemically—truly is the worship that is the very life of this church.
After a year of listening to the mission ministry groups and understanding better how their approach, I began to see the opportunity for new intersections in our work, especially among all of our church’s ministry groups.
Additionally, in the aftermath of the presidential election, many of you approached me eager to join the missional work at Highland. Then, we completed our Vision 20/20 project. Together, these events positioned us to ask broader questions about how we approach our missional activity while expanding entry points for those seeking to join the effort.
The Ministry Council supported a task force (Melissa Davis, Ryan Davis, Roy Fuller, Andrew Glibbery, Allison Keenan, Carolyn King, Robert Moore, Margaret Pennington, and Kim Waters) to consider a new way to organize. After three meetings, I presented a proposal to Ministry Council, the three mission ministry groups, the Emma Leachman Global Women Group, the ministry staff, and to the congregation at two Quarterly Church Conferences. I continued to massage the structure and job descriptions based on your insightful and care-filled feedback. The church unanimously voted a new structure into place in January.
I introduce to you the Mission and Justice Ministry Group and its 8 Mission Teams. The Mission and Justice Ministry Group operates like the hub of a wheel to offer administrative backing, financial organization, and big-picture visioning to the Mission Teams, which engage hands-on, relational networking, service, and education by offering charitable contributions as well as systemic awareness building in our fight against injustice.
Team Leaders and Ministry Group Members
Mission and Justice Ministry Group—Kim Waters chairs this group and serves alongside Jill Ligon Davis, Barbara Stallard, Roy Fuller, the mission team leaders (see below), and myself serving as staff liaison.
- Anti-Racism Team (A.R.T.)—Nancy Goodhue and Missy Smith co-lead this team committed to keeping racial justice education and awareness at the forefront of our broader church narrative. Further, they are developing a new partnership with Portland Memorial Missionary Baptist Church.
- Environmental Action Team (E.A.T.)—Rachel Nally and Ben Self co-lead this team committed to reducing our church’s carbon footprint. They are currently reviewing a building assessment that was completed in 2011 to consider what small steps we can take toward sustainability now, while also exploring the efficacy and possibility of installing solar panels on our church roof in the future.
- True Colors Team—while previously its own ministry group, our LGBTQ ministry will join the missional engagement of our church. The leader is forthcoming as well as some new endeavors. Our annual marching in the June PRIDE parade will continue.
- Food Justice Team—Alana Maddox and Doug Lowry co-lead this team committed to understanding the importance of local, sustainable, healthy, and hospitable food options. This team is creating a partnership with Louisville’s new food co-op, hosting an Earth Day event, and overseeing our involvement at the Hunger Walk in October.
- CBF/Morocco Team—Terri Connolly leads this team committed to ensuring that our connections to the Protestant Church in Morocco and CBF missionary, Karen Thomas Smith, are empowering to the native and migrant peoples we seek to uplift and support. Every October we sponsor a congregant to visit for their international business meeting.
- Habitat for Humanity and Other Housing Options Team—Jim McBee and Sam Rose co-lead this team committed to recruiting volunteers for our annual work with Habitat for Humanity in Louisville, CBF Extreme Build in McCreary County, and elsewhere where this work is needed.
- Immigration Team—Kate Dittmeier Holm leads this team committed to growing our relational partnerships with local organizations that offer support to local refugees, including the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ), KY Refugee Ministries, Americana Community Center, La Casita Center, Mijente Louisville, and others.
- Global Women Team—Formerly known as our WMU groups, this team includes Highland’s four missionary circles, a) Emma Leachman, b) Jean Janes, c) the HBC Bookends Reading Group and 4) the Prayer Shawl Knitters.
Where Will You Serve?
As you can see, this movement of community and global engagement demands a full host of church volunteers! This structure seeks to be intersectional, intergenerational, and interconnected. You will also see this reflected in the 2018 mission budget, which will be posted in the newsletter next month.
Most of the teams meet monthly, and all of them welcome new members at any time. We will host a mission fair on Sunday, June 3, where you will have an opportunity to connect with team members and leaders, see up-close what their work includes, and have an opportunity to either join the team or sign-up to help with various projects throughout the year. If you are ready to join a team now, let one of the team leaders or me know! Welcome!
Friends, what an overwhelming joy to participate with you as we seek to fulfill our “dream of being an engaging, vibrant church, where transformed people are joining the work of God, creating a world where justice and love are abundant.” With deep gratitude and great expectation, ~ Lauren Jones Mayfield