Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee Ministry Team (SVSCMT) Report on March/April 2021 FCCSJ House Meetings
Between March 27 and April 2, 2021, SVSCMT had three opportunities for people to attend a one-hour house meeting over Zoom. Following three weeks of promotion, 52 FCCSJ and UDF members joined with eight ministry team members in small groups of seven to nine people to discuss the following question:
We are experiencing a lot of pressures as families and communities; can you tell a story about some of those pressures that you or the people you know and love are experiencing?
There were three goals for the meetings:
- To identify community issues that are impacting our members directly in a way that might lead to enthusiastic commitment to work for change with the larger Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee organization
- To identify concerns within our membership that we might recommend the church adopt as upcoming mission focus targets
- To use meaningful conversations as a way to develop deeper connections among our members.
A. The concerns that were raised most consistently in the small groups centered specifically around (1) Housing Affordability, (2) Healthcare, and (3) Aging.
- The lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area is acute and has impacted our members as they have watched their children, grandchildren and other relatives and friends move out of the area. Many of us question whether we can afford to retire here and maintain a reasonable quality of life. We all also harbor significant concerns and a deep desire to work to support the growing unhoused population in the valley.
- The cost of healthcare and health insurance, and the complexity of accessing care while balancing copays and deductibles, are a huge concern. Some have felt the need to self-ration treatments. Mental healthcare coverage is inadequate and it can be difficult to find therapists with availability. Adding the impact of job loss, underemployment, or disability to this seriously impedes our access to care.
- Many raised concerns about issues related to aging, affordability of retiring, quality of life in the Bay Area, loneliness, grief and isolation, the cost of elder-care, and anxiety about what our final years will look like as our families have moved away.
B. Beyond those three main issues, many other concerns were raised, any one of which could be a topic for our church to address as a mission focus, or a series of activities or projects. Among those that came up often were:
- Emotional and mental health issues of young people following a year of Zoom education and isolation
- Deep loneliness and isolation of our elder church members, particularly as many are grieving the loss of dear friends and family either due to moving away or death
- Issues of economic disparity that have been laid even more bare through this pandemic in food insecurity, loss of employment or underemployment, disparity of educational opportunity
- Racial justice issues, both in terms of over-policing of Blacks and the more recent highly charged rise in Anti-Asian attacks.
C. Connecting Our Members
The response to these meetings has been overwhelmingly positive. The opportunity to share those things that are weighing heavily on our spirits, our finances, and our hearts was greatly appreciated and compassionately received. There has been significant interest in having additional opportunities to engage in this kind of deep sharing either with the SVSCMT or with other church leadership groups.
Our SVSCMT will be presenting the results of our House Meetings with the wider Sponsoring Committee organization at scheduled events in April and May. We will participate in ongoing discussions as we seek productive ways to act on our shared concerns. We will also be discussing our House Meeting results internally with the Board of Congregational Life, looking for energy and leadership to take on some challenging projects at FCCSJ focused on the concerns that have been raised. SVSCMT will be looking to hold additional meetings again in the future (either over Zoom or in-person if it can be done safely), perhaps in late summer, asking new questions, and addressing new goals.
You can attend the next regular large-group meeting of the Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee and be a part of the discussion of the results of all the house meetings across all the participating congregations and organizations.
Sunday, May 16 at 4:00pm
Register to attend by Zoom here