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July 7, 2016

Listening with Grace: Intentional conversations across the congregation
Dear Grace Community,
It is a blessing to be part of this faith community on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota, a welcoming place and people offering gracious hospitality to all.  This is an exciting time filled with opportunities and challenges.  This letter is to inform you about an upcoming plan to chart our future together.
We are very pleased to announce a comprehensive Congregational Inreach to begin this fall: Listening with Grace.  An Inreach is a large-scale effort to facilitate meaningful one-to-one conversations among all of us.  This is an opportunity to discover and gain clarity about our values and priorities, our hopes and dreams for the mission and ministry of Grace.  We have found Inreaches be an effective, inclusive and grassroots way to engage the hearts and minds of members.  This spring Pastor Dan, with the blessing of the Church Council, recruited Sue Engh and Liz Andress to oversee and guide the Listening with Grace team.  Together they bring years of experience and much passion to this effort.  You will receive more communication about plans, timeframe and goals in the coming weeks.  A kick-off will be held in mid-September.
Previous inreaches were conducted in 2003, 2007 and 2012 at Grace. Each time we experienced the blessing of deep listening to one another.  We synthesized what we learned into a larger picture for our mission and understanding of God’s calling for our community.  Over the past four years new members have joined and there have been many changes in our community and the world.  It is more than timely to engage together again in Listening with Grace.
One of the opportunities facing our community is the anticipation of proceeds from the probable sale of the church parking lot.  It appears we are on track to close on the sale in late August or early September.  These resources present us with both opportunity and challenge.  We know some are anxious to begin conversation about the use of the funds. Now is the time for thoughtful and intentional reflection.  Speed and urgency will not serve us.  Due to the nature of the sale it is prudent to withhold spending any funds for several months, until ground is broken and Grace is relieved of any and all possible contingencies.  This will coincide with the completion of Listening with Grace in our December 2016 to January 2017 timeframe.
It is necessary to take time to engage all ideas, hopes and brainstorming.  We are at a critical point in Grace’s history that requires we respond well and faithfully.  Through these intentional conversations, in listening for and discerning what matters and how God is calling us at this time, we will be guided as we prayerfully consider exciting and major decisions.
Deep listening is a gift to both give and receive.  The more voices we hear, the more faithfully we can discern God’s mission in this time and place.  We hope you will engage in this effort to enter into intentional conversation about God’s call, as we faithfully mine our values and hear dreams and hopes, gathering these conversations into a clear direction for Grace’s mission for the next five to ten years.
God’s peace to you,
Steve Solbrack, Church Council President
Dan Garnaas, Co-Pastor
Mary Halvorson, Co-Pastor


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