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Mission Study

May 16, 2019 Report
With thanks to ​Wade Whitehead

The Mission Study Report was the result of a requirement by the Presbytery of the Peaks when Tupper Garden announced his retirement. The Presbytery required a Church in transition of pastors to develop a Mission Study before a Pastor Nominating Committee could be named. Our study was to be used as a guide in selecting Tupper’s successor. 


What is a Mission Study?

* It is an overview of our church’s demographics, structure, ministries, programs, and missions.

* It is an illumination of our relative strengths and weaknesses.

* It is a reflection of an effort to hear from many different people.

* It is a guidepost for the Pastor Nominating Committee as they seek to call a match for RCPC.


What a Mission Study is not.

* It is not a statement of the policy or polity of the Presbyterian  Church.

* It is not a list of complaints lodged by church members.

* It is not a digest of quotes from church members.

* It is not a perfect – or nearly perfect- document.


A few considerations.

* Since our church had only had three Pastors in 90 years, the Mission Study process was, in any way, uncharted territory.

* Mission Study Reports can vary wildly in length, can often take a  full year or more to complete, and use a variety of methods and processes to gather input. 



Members of the team:

Wade Whitehead, Chair

India Atkinson, Chris Bryant, Bobby Cooper, Paula Derbyshire, Bill Foster, Carolyn Hornick, Van Renick, Leigh Sackett, El Saviers, and Dale Hanslik.


Span of time:

Chairman Whitehead addressed the Board of Deacons on Monday, August 12, 2013, after the Session had appointed him chairman, and outlined the task at hand. One year later, on August 25, 2014, the Session approved the Report and it was received and approved by the Presbytery of the Peaks on September 11, 2014. 



As Tupper’s transition began in May of 2014, our interim Pastor, Carl Utley was called by our Church to guide us through this interim period. Carl has been referred to “as the right man at the right time.” He had substantial training and expertise in dealing with church transitional issues and developing Mission Study Reports. With Carl’s “hands-on” guidance, we proceeded to lay the groundwork for the task at hand. 



The first step was to survey the congregation and compile input from them. Questions included…

* Listing both the strengths and weaknesses of RCPC.

* Listing programs or ministries that should be introduced.

* Programs that should be improved or discontinued.   

* How would you describe or how has RCPC changed over time?


Input and organizing/methods used:

* On-Line survey input. 

* Paper input.

* Focus groups.

* Telephone input/personal meeting.


After extensive examination, the Mission Study Team commenced a period of study. Using both qualitative and quantitative analysis methods, the team worked to discern where RCPC had been, where it was, and where it might go. The team turned to two questions: Who would God have us be and what would God have us do? In addition, our Chairman surveyed other churches and obtained copies of their Mission Study Reports. Approximately 75 reports were reviewed and analyzed.  The Team continued to develop its Report. Areas of focus were History, our Congregation, Spiritual Health, Organizational Leadership (Ministers, Ministerial Staff, Support Staff, Our Session and Board of Deacons, Communications, Strengths and Challenges). But they did not stop there…Christian Formation (Children and Youth, Adult Ministries, Music and Worship, Mission Groups), Finances (Annual Operation Budget, Benevolences, Stewardship, Endowment Fund).…and there is still more…Facilities (The Chapel, The parking lot,


The Sanctuary and meeting space below, The Capital Expansion Program of 1997 which included the Gathering Area, the Allision fellowship hall with seating for 225, a large commercial kitchen, an elevator,  the 224 niche Columbarium area, and upgrades to the HVAC systems. This program unfolded in three phases, the definition, the planning, and the build-out. From start to finish, it took approximately three and one-half years at a cost of approximately 2 million dollars.


The comprehensive Mission Study Report addressed other subjects as well.  Communities We Serve, looking back (Raleigh Court in The Rearview Mirror), and looking ahead (Raleigh Court on the Road Ahead).  Our Call was a detailed area dedicated to what God was calling us to do.  Some of the subjects addressed were “God is calling us to return to our niche as a neighborhood church” and “God is calling us to reach out to active-duty service members and military veterans and families in our community.  Note: Raleigh Court in the Rearview Mirror is addressed as a separate subject in this Historical Review.


As a finishing touch, Chm. Whitehead included the poem “The Church of the Open Door” written by one of our congregation, Dr. G.M. Maxwell.  It is a touching, thoughtful, heartfelt piece of poetry that encapsulates the true character of Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church. 


When the RCPC Mission Study Report was received and approved by the Presbytery in September of 2014, it was cited as one of the most comprehensive, well thought out, and professionally structured plans submitted. 

For a complete copy, check the Church Library or contact the Church office.

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