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The World Cafe and 'Vision Day' at the Redlands United Church of Christ

The Redlands United Church of Christ used The World Cafe model for their first ever Vision Day in May of last year. Their goal was to identify and prioritize the plans, hopes and needs for their congregation and the communities they serve.  The warm and welcoming environment created for this day immediately put the participants at ease and allowed a rich ‘harvest’ of ideas concerning their future together.  The facilitator was the Reverend Ben Bohren, Regional Minister and President of the Christian Church in Northern California-Nevada Region. 

The day was summarized in their June 2009 newsletter, “Wanderings.” (see below, or at

President’s Message  

It was beautiful. The tables were tastefully decorated and invited us to sit, relax and enjoy as we stepped into the World Café. We savored the smell of fresh coffee, fruit and pastries. The kind old maitre d’ welcomed us and immediately put us at ease. As we greeted friends and family, we sat down and many started doodling with the crayons on the white paper tablecloths.

Hey wait a minute! Crayons? Paper tablecloths? What kind of fancy restaurant was this? Certainly not Morton’s Steakhouse! Certainly not a place with a wine list extending to $3,000 bottles of fine vintage!  No, this was a place you could wear your pajama bottoms to if you wished1. The World Café was situated right in the middle of Redlands UCC in our familiar Covenant Hall.

Such was the scene as we lived out Vision Day on Saturday, May 16th.  The World Café model was perfect as we sat with each other at tables of four and feasted on different “entrées” of our future together. Physical space, programs, spiritual growth, and outreach and mission were on the “menu” as we brainstormed, discussed and dreamed. The format allowed for the free flow of ideas at each table followed by a “harvest” of the ideas for the larger group.

Many of us were amazed at not only the ideas that came from the other groups, but what sprang to life at our own tables! For the details on the ideas that came out of Vision Day, read the related article in this edition of The Wanderings.  

But I’d like to thank the people who participated, both in person as well as in spirit, and the people who will make the vision come to life over the coming months and years. Their spirit of cooperation, openness, and patience is a testament to the kind of people who make up RUCC.  

People here do more than talk the talk. We also walk the walk. And the walk is not a gentle stroll down memory lane. It’s an invigorating, heart-pumping, wide-eyed turn around the neighborhood of our faith.  There are so many exciting opportunities that we are actively pursuing. At the same time, we are also staying open to new paths, new horizons and new wonders as we go. As the central scripture said at Vision Day: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says God, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

The future is bright at RUCC as we listen to God’s still-speaking voice, as we serve our brothers and sisters in God’s realm, and as we worship together in love.

With optimism and hope,

Loring Fiske-Phillips

1 Actually, it has been proven that one can indeed wear pajama bottoms to Morton’s Steakhouse; however, they will seat you at the back, near the kitchen.

Vision Day at RUCC - a “Work in Progress”

RUCC’s first-ever Vision Day, held on Saturday, May 16 with about 30 of us participating, was an attempt to identify the various ideas, plans, hopes, and needs of our growing congregation—AND to prioritize them on just a few sheets of paper with names of folk who have interest in pursuing and realizing them.

The day—facilitated ably by The Rev. Ben Bohren—was a great success. Here’s hoping that YOU want to be involved in one of the projects identified. Please check out the sheets posted in Covenant Hall, and add your name next to the one project that calls to your spirit.

Friends, this is how work gets done around RUCC…people with like interests and skills joining together to make it happen! To whet your appetite, paste the outline below where you can ponder and pray with it…then sign up…YOU are needed! Four areas of need:

1. Physical Space – we are outgrowing our sanctuary, our classroom space, and our meeting spaces…do you have skills useful to a BUILDING COMMITTEE, ideas to give to the ORGAN COMMITTEE, or creative ideas for BETTER SPACE USAGE?

2. Programs – church growth experts tell us that people often join a church because of the pastor, or because they have friends who are members; however, in growing congregations, people stay and become rooted because of the PROGRAMS…do you have ideas for SMALL GROUP ministry, MUSIC or ENVIRONMENTAL programs, or would you like to work with the pastor to develop a new and creative “JESUS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING” program? Perhaps you’d like to help others with their own home projects (gardening, light construction, cleaning) through an old RUCC group “BARNRAISERS…”

3. Spiritual Growth – always a necessary part of our two-way journey of faith, there are as many possibilities as there are members and friends of RUCC! Do you have an interest in helping create a COMMUNITY GARDEN, or help plan and implement the LENTEN SERIES? Perhaps you would like to help us continue to deepen our PEACE & JUSTICE focus, or work with the worship area to include our STORIES OF FAITH in worship services. The sky is the limit with this!

4. Outreach & Mission – the second direction that is absolutely necessary on our deepening journey of faith, there are no limits on how (or where) we can serve! Perhaps you feel a call to work with LGBT YOUTH, or IMMIGRANTS, or PAROLEES. Or maybe you’d like to help us coordinate musical scholarships for our community’s many talented youth. Needs are many…and many hands make light the work…  

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Hi Peg,
This is SO exciting to see--- and I'm going to forward it to others who are working with church communities. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.


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