We have a called Intentional Interim Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Marvin Morgan, and are in the process of clarifying who we are:
- where we’ve been,
- who we are now, and
- how and where we believe God is calling us as we listen toward our future in Sedona and the Greater Verde Valley area.
- There is a Transition Team in place ... six members of the congregation who are leading the congregation through the Intentional Interim Ministry Process, engaging the congregation in questions of our heritage, connections, leadership, mission and future. The team is helping the congregation identify the values, strengths, assumptions, challenges and hopes of this people called Church of the Red Rocks United Church of Christ.
Why People Choose Church of the Red Rocks Summary
~ People - warm and friendly, caring for each other, sincere, Ginger was so welcoming
~ Music and Musical Activities
~ Activities offered – mission, strong social presence, social, spiritual, Monday Suppers
~ Pastor – preaching and visiting people at their homes
~ Spiritual Enrichment
~ Presence of the Holy Spirit
~ The church was fresh, different
~ Could be myself, didn’t need to hide who I am
~ Many options for nonmembers to participate in the life of the church
~ Loved the name of the church
Ways People Feel Connected Summary
~ Group activities in and outside the church – very long list of a wide range of activities
~ Interpersonal relationships – including visitors and shepherds
~ Open and Affirming
~ Eating together – coffee hour, potlucks and picnics and Monday Suppers
~ Being cared for and supported in difficult times and feeling alone - both physically and spiritually
~ Being honestly known, freedom to be self without repercussions
~ Sense of family – connected
~ Being welcomed – friendly, Ruth Wheaten, being an Ambassador of the church
~ Sharing interests and life experiences
~ Receiving cards – “I am not forgotten and am missed”
~ Pastor sharing personal stories
~ Expanded inclusiveness – lots of -isms in our community
~ Church is about dialog – “Stay curious and be kind”
~ Music, Bells, supporting greater music community
~ Participation in worship through choir, bells, reading scripture, serving communion
~ Discussion based worship
~ Through sermons and scripture in worship and presence of the Holy Spirit, hearing current events and things that relate to the youth, preach Jesus but don’t judge
~ Worship - alternative styles and types of music, collaborative ~ in both worship and music
~ Traditions – seasonal
~ UCC denomination – less structure, rituals, creeds
~ Participation in worship through choir, bells, reading scripture, serving communion
~ Prayer and study
~ Sharing their gifts~ Seen as a Child of God where each person is sacred~
~ Connecting with the outside community – mission and outreach
~ Transportation assistance
~ Serving others
~ Communications – paper calendars, Transition Team
~ Serving on committees and ministry teams
~ Technology – Zoom meetings, streaming services
~ When involved especially doing things for the church
Concern for Others
Love in Action
Presence of Holy Spirit
Grace of God
Sense of Belonging
Cheers & Tears
Expressions of Faith
Being Heard and Known
On June 18 the Transition Team led a discussion after worship that focused on creating a Vision for our Ministry in the next 3-5 years. At that session we proposed a Mission Statement to guide us:
Through Christian Worship, Education and Mission, we share our Faith in God with all.
In that gathering, Visions were shared regarding the ministries that the church might strengthen or explore as we move forward. Using the following four Core Values we listed the ideas that emerged.
Faith in Action
Church of the Red Rocks
August 23, 2023
In the early spring of 2022, the Rev. Dr. Marvin Morgan was engaged by the Church Council to become the Intentional Interim Minister and to lead the Church of the Red Rocks through an Intentional Transition Process as the church prepares to call a new settled pastor. By early summer, in consultation with the congregation and the Church Council, a Transition Team was called, commissioned, and trained to lead the interim process. They began meeting weekly in August 2022. It is chaired by the Rev. Margaret Gramley and vice-chair Micheal Redhawk. Other members include Richard Grimsrud, Lawrence Byrd, Betty Morgan, Sara Johnson, and Robert Johnson. Rev. Dr. Morgan has participated as a trainer, consultant, and guide.
Since its formation, the Transition Team has seen our work as broadly focusing in two directions: the key five focus points of an interim process, … Legacy/Heritage, Connections, Mission, Leadership and Future … and engaging the congregation in a process of thinking about these focus points and reconnecting with each other, with our love for God and our hopes for this church. In addition to weekly conversations as a team, the team has also held several meetings with the congregation as a whole and with small groups in member’s households. The small group meetings on the topic of “Connections” were a joy and a highlight. The Transition Team continues to value input from the congregation as we explore ever deeper ways of worshiping and serving God, connecting more fully with each other, and broadening our interactions with our community. This preliminary report summarizes the committee’s work thus far.
The Church of the Red Rocks (CRR) is an Open and Affirming Congregation affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC) and located in Sedona, AZ. Sedona's main attraction is its array of red rock (sandstone) formations that appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. The red rocks form a popular backdrop for many activities, ranging from spiritual pursuits to hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails.
Church of the Red Rocks has a website, www.churchoftheredrocks.com.
The United Church of Christ Mission Statement:
“Wherever you are on your life's journey,
you are welcome here.”
The Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ Mission Statement:
“Extravagantly welcoming and affirming followers of Christ called to embody God's unconditional justice and love.”
The Proposed Church of the Red Rocks Mission Statement:
“Through Christian Worship, Education and Mission
we share and celebrate Faith in God with all.”
The United Church of Christ is a blend of five historic traditions - Congregational, Christian, Evangelical, Reformed, and Afro Christian Churches, (formally acknowledged more recently by the UCC) - that have made a profound difference in U.S. religious and political history. The UCC website is found at the following link: www.ucc.org/ and has many subfolders to explore.
Focus Area: Legacy/Heritage - A Brief History
The Church of the Red Rocks was formed in 1960, when a small contingent from another church in the area met with a few other Sedona residents to discuss starting a new congregation, one with denominational connections. They found a home in the United Church of Christ and by 1963 had purchased land on Bowstring Drive on a hill south of “uptown” Sedona. A church building was soon under construction. Over the next few years and with much hard work …. literally …. they established themselves as a vital part of the Verde Valley church landscape. Sedona was still a small town and far from other communities, so it was local farmers, business folk, educators, artists, and professionals who made up the congregation. There were many challenges, but the people joined in creative ways to build a worshipping community that took care of each other and served the larger community.
The 1970’s and 80’s brought much change and growth to Sedona and the church community. Highway 17 - the Interstate connecting Phoenix and Flagstaff - was not completely open until August 1978. Soon people began moving to Arizona and the Verde Valley to establish themselves in a warmer climate or to spend their retirement years. Sedona quickly grew … and so did the church. By the mid-80’s, the congregation had grown from about 300 members in the early 70’s to nearly 800 members reported in the Annual Report of 1984.
Music has been a vital part of the worship experience at Church of the Red Rocks. A Moeller Pipe Organ, chimes, a sound system, choirs, and special concerts drew many to the church. Toward the end of the 80’s new pianos were added, a Handbell Choir was formed … and more pipes were added to the organ. The value and gift of music has been a trademark of this congregation from the beginning and continues to this day. More recently, by developing a relationship with the Choral Department at Northern Arizona University, the church has sponsored the development of a resident Chamber Choir … the Sedona Academy Chamber Singers. Church of the Red Rocks also provides worship and leadership experience to interns from NAU who sing in the church choir. We also offer space for student performances/recitals.
The Church of the Red Rocks has also always been active in the larger community. The people of the church were instrumental in starting several organizations … Sedona Community Foundation, the Verde Valley Sanctuary, the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council and Verde Valley Caregivers. The congregation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010 and soon began a two-year study process regarding becoming an Open and Affirming Congregation. This resulted in the church claiming and proclaiming its openness to all, and welcoming new people. Church members have built houses in Guatemala, adopted a girl’s school in Bwindi, volunteered and supported the ministry at Rainbow Acres, led the effort to build Hope House for homeless children and their mothers. Volunteers from Church of the Red Rocks currently serve the Community Meal in Sedona once a month.
The Church of the Red Rocks loves to play and learn together. Multiple social and learning opportunities have included: a travel committee, a clown squad, bake sales, formal teas, after-church potlucks, Christmas projects and parties, musical concerts, Bible studies and other theological and spiritual group discussions. Pick-a-Party gatherings were a huge hit for several seasons. And a biennial Treasure Sale raises funds for ministry, brings people together, and welcomes the community to Church of the Red Rocks.
Over the years, the Church of the Red Rocks has been led by many strong, capable, and dedicated Lay People. And it has been shepherded by a series of pastors with diverse gifts and deep faith. The two most significant of these occurred during the growth of the area and church from the mid-1970’s through the early 2000’s. The Rev. Alice Snow was the pastor for 12 years … during a time of profound growth in the community. Her gifts were her warmth and her creative presence and energy. The Rev. George Ault was pastor for 30 years … from the mid-80’s through 2015. His gifts included administration, energy, and vision. He was the leader through several building programs and the growth of the church into a more program focused church.
Since the retirement of Rev. Ault, the church has experienced much change … the general decline of growth in the Sedona area has been reflected in the church. And even as churches across the denomination have declined in members, so has the Church of the Red Rocks. An interim period, a short-tenured ministry, COVID, the Intentional Interim Process and the loss of a beloved Church Administrator have challenged the church to focus on what is core to its mission. Music, hospitality, mission and connecting to God through worship, small groups and shared service have all been reaffirmed, during our current interim process, as core to our life together.
Focus Area: Connections
Through a series of small and large groups, home and church “Connecting Conversations,” the Transition Team provided opportunities for congregants to have conversations with each other and with the Transition Team regarding their connections. As noted earlier, these sessions were enthusiastically received and nearly a hundred people participated. People enjoyed being together again and having a place to share their hopes and concerns.
Focus Area: Mission
These Connecting Conversations produced many ideas and thoughts to consider as we began to shape the proposed Mission Statement, Core Values, Vision Plan 2025, and Ministry Plan 2025. The Transition Team was intentional in using language and ideas from the Connecting Conversations as they engaged input from the congregation.
We propose the following Mission Statement:
Through Christian Worship, Education and Mission
we share and celebrate Faith in God with all.
This statement embodies the Core Values identified:
Faith in Action
Based on the Mission Statement, Core Values, and input from the congregation in a June meeting, the Transition Team proposes the following Vision Plan for Church of the Red Rocks, through the year 2025.
Vision Plan 2025:
By 2025, The Church of the Red Rocks will have:
- Increased its membership and participation by at least 15%.
- Expanded diversity in styles and expression of The Good News in worship in at least 25% of all services, leading to a more enlivened worship experience.
- Provided 25% more opportunities to connect with each other and with God.
- Created at least 5 specific relationships that will give the church more connections to the surrounding communities.
- Explored together the possibilities for more diverse ways to “Be the Church” culturally. spiritually/theologically, and locationally.
- Succeeded in developing a Long-Range Plan through the year 2030, that includes a needs analysis, resource usage, and inclinations and interests of the congregation.
The Transition Team proposes the following Ministry Plan to achieve the above Vision.
Ministry Plan 2025:
By 2025, The Church of the Red Rocks will have accomplished these goals following these plans:
Increase membership and participation.
Embrace a Welcoming Perspective in all our activities, facilitating intentional diversity.
Track members attending worship to allow better follow up.
Increase Small Group opportunities including a short study on “Who is my neighbor and how to welcome them.”
Creating volunteer options that require less time commitments (bite-sized jobs)
Develop a transportation plan to get participants to worship for non-driving seniors and others.
Expand our vision of what the church of the future may look like.
Increase the church’s presence within the community for example, website, signage on 179, events, speakers
Continue our digital presence on our website, in worship and in giving options.
Enliven worship experiences.
Hold worship services outside of the sanctuary from time to time – the fellowship hall around tables, outdoors, in Cottonwood/Clarkdale
Create Worship Teams according to the liturgical year to suggest themes, images, readings, and musical possibilities, in conversation with the pastor and Worship and Music Ministry.
Introduce and augment our current music with more diverse styles of music in worship – Taizé, contemporary music, guitars, and drums.
Introduce and incorporate more diverse styles of worship – Taizé, skits, signing, sacred dance, or multilingual formats.
Provide enhanced opportunities to connect with each other and God
Maintain a physical and social presence by the pastor within the church and the community.
Create Active Response Team
Begin Adult Education, incorporating a key guest speaker to launch the groups.
Start at least 5 new groups in 2024. Continue creating 2-4 new groups on a yearly basis. Groups might include Pick-a-Parties, Study groups, Support groups, Dinner for 6/7, Travel groups, Game groups, Mission oriented groups, Community service groups, Lagos Gardens, or Worship Team groups.
Create specific relationships connecting Church of the Red Rocks to the surrounding communities.
Better utilize our church building to increase community exposure and accessibility – Remodel the basement. Possibilities to consider - offer a space for health and wellness area, open a 2nd Chapter Thrift Store with proceeds going to affordable housing and/or helping support our local teachers.
Every 6 months the church will adopt a community organization or group, seek to discern what needs they might have and find creative ways to help them. The church will invite them to worship with us and pray for them and talk about them at each worship service. Examples include Food Bank, Fire Dept, School, youth programs, minority groups…
Have a yearly Art & Sculpture show to include galleries and local artists throughout Verde Valley
Have more inter-church activities such as BBQs, potluck dinners, Chili cook offs, or joint community service projects.
Seek to “Be the Church”- culturally. spiritually/theologically, and locationally.
Develop off site “church campus” for activities, meetings, and gatherings.
Offer an all-church study of Multi: The Chemistry of Church Diversity by Paul Nixon
Offer hospitality to tourists, letting them know about us, finding ways to interact by handing out water at the Shuttle Lot, or being present at local events offering water.
Create a Long-Range Plan through 2030
Engage a consultant who will help us create a Long-Range Plan. This will include: a needs analysis of the surrounding area; an exploration of multicultural, multi-locational and multi faith possibilities and interests; and setting goals/guidelines regarding the use of invested funds.
Update our By-Laws and Policies and Procedures
Focus Area: Leadership
The next area of focus is on the Leadership of the church, both clergy and laity. What kind and how many clergy, support staff, and lay leadership groups will Church of the Red Rocks need to accomplish this Ministry Plan? What organizational structure will best facilitate the Vision we imagine of the Church of 2025? By examining the Current Constitution and By-Laws, we have noted a need for some revisions. We hope to address communication patterns and how best to shape a leadership team that is flexible and responsive to emerging needs and opportunities as well as attuned to our Core Values and the deep history and mission of Church of the Red Rocks.
Focus Area: Future
At this point, the Transition Team will ask the Council to name 4 people to serve on a Pastor Search Committee and work with the full Transition Team in writing the Church Profile and Candidate Profile. Once those profiles are completed, the Chair of the Pastor Search Committee and the Moderator will contact the Conference to beginthe Pastoral Search with direct guidance from Conference staff. The chair of the Transition Team and the Interim Pastor will have named 3 members of the Transition Team to continue on the Search Committee. Once the profiles are posted our Interim Pastor may still be present with us, fulfilling pastoral duties and responsibilities. However, he is required to maintain an “arm’s length” distance from the pastor search process, based upon an interim ministry covenant, signed at the beginning of his tenure with Church of the Red Rocks. He may continue to be a “process facilitator” with the Pastor Search Committee, providing data, only when asked to do so.
Once a candidate has been chosen, called by the congregation and agrees to become our new settled pastor, the Search Committee and Transition Team will again work together to plan for the arrival, introduction, and integration of the new settled pastor into the life and ministry of Church of the Red Rocks.