One aspect of the work of the FCC Vision team is to collect and analyze external and internal data of our church and community in order to understand who we are and who we can continue to be in the direction that God might be leading us. We need your help to analyze some demographic data of our current FCC population. Would you please take a moment to give us some information that will help us more accurately define our reality? All individual responses are highly confidential and anonymous.
Welcome to the FCC Vision Team Blog page. Please continue to visit this page for updates, posts and comments as we embark on this journey together.
The Difference Between Mission and Vision
Mission is about purpose. It answers the fundamental questions, “Who are we?” and “Why do we exist?” While there are many ways to keep reframing the statement of the church’s mission so that it translates into new generations, it is unmistakably founded on Jesus’ call for us to “Go, make disciples of all nations and cultures” (Matthew 28:18-20) and his command to “love God and love our neighbor” (Luke 10:27). Our current FCC Mission Statement is “To Know Christ and to Make Him Known”. Our church Board and Pastors are currently looking into Jesus’ Great Commission and teachings in the Scriptures and seeking to discern how we continue to communicate the Mission of FCC for clarity and focus.
Vision is about direction. It’s about where we are headed in our future while still being true to our mission. It has to do with taking a look at our past and our present, defining the realities of our community and our surroundings and dreaming of what God may want us to look like in the days to come. Vision is a picture of where we would like to be in the near future. This is where the work of the FCC Vision team comes into play and where we are excited to listen, share and discern together!
Why a Vision Team?
The purpose of FCC Vision Team is to lead us in a process of discerning God’s spiritual, strategic direction for the ongoing mission of First Covenant Church of Oakland.
Your FCC Vision Team was formed in February of 2017 and consists of 12 FCC members who represent the diversity of our church in age, gender, ethnicity and in their time at FCC. We are grateful for the ongoing commitment of these individuals to work on your behalf to make sure that we serve the wider community of FCC and Oakland. The team consists of: Zoe Abuyen, Marcus Amaro, Pastor Marco Ambriz, Scott Cammauf, Dave Geng, Ruth Hamilton, Jenay Hatchell, Pastor Calvin Ho, Jana Holmes, Hamilton Hunt, Nina Johnson (Team Leader), and Joan Sweetman.
We have invited Alan Forsman, a Covenant Church consultant and (former church planter and pastor) to lead us in conversation and focus for our process. Alan comes highly recommended by other Covenant Church leaders and has helped many churches and organizations with vision and strategic planning to achieve their goals while being committed to their mission.
The Vision team has met now 3 times in bi-monthly meetings and are continuing more work through a process of large group gatherings, sub-team projects and individual research through which we hope will lead us to clarify our church’s spiritual strategic direction.
Sub-Teams: The Vision team has been divided into several sub-teams in order to focus and achieve its goals. It will continue to divide into other sub-teams as necessary and constantly recruits the voices and presence of other FCC people to help accomplish its tasks. Our current sub-teams consist of these groups:
The Prayer Team is leading the charge throughout the church to organize times of prayer specifically for this venture. They are asking for and leading prayers as we listen to God’s guidance and His leading us to His will as a church.
The Internal Dynamics Team is looking at who we are today. Questions include: “What are the demographics of those who call FCC their church home? Who are we currently serving and partnering with? What kind of care and ministry are we doing among our church family? What are the structures of leadership and ministry within our church body?
The External Dynamics Team is focusing on our greater community of Oakland and assessing the needs of this great city so that we as a church may rise to the call of outreach and local ministry. Questions include: What are the demographics of Oakland and the East Bay? What are the needs that city leaders and communities are identifying? What are the opportunities for FCC to be missional outside of its walls? Where are FCC people already serving the community?
The History Team has been researching the 130-year history of FCC in order to honor our legacy and those who have gone before us and to also understand times in our church’s history where we courageously adapted for the sake of future vision.
The Communications Team is working to keep you informed and to solicit vital input from the church community for our process.
The End Goal of the Vision Team
The Vision team will continue its work through the Summer of 2017. When it has concluded its meetings, prayer, conversations with others and research it will produce a document that can be called a Vision Statement. This statement is a list of suggestions and recommendations that would be presented to our FCC Board for consideration, church adoption and implementation. No vision statement is perfect or final, but we would seek for this to be a step towards dreaming together what God is calling us to look like as we follow him in his mission.
What Can You Do?
This is a community process as we are a church body that is seeking God together. You can help in 3 ways
We invite any of your comments, questions and thoughts as you consider the future of FCC.
If you like, take some time now and try to answer these 3 questions
3 years from now...What do you see happening through FCC?
3 years from now...What do you hear people saying about FCC?
3 years from now...What do you feel when you participate in the community life of FCC?
Pastor Marco and the FCC Vision Team
What are we without our history? The past informs the present and can help to safeguard the future.
First Covenant Church (FCC) has a rich past - 130 years' worth of legacy. While it is easy to hang on to the past, it is not always best. Yet, appreciating our history and affirming our roots can also provide a foundation on which to build.
FCC began in 1886 as a small gathering with immigrant missionaries from Sweden, on their way to service in Alaska. The first charter was signed in 1887 by 14 people, with women outnumbering men nearly 2 to 1. The church has been housed in 9 locations throughout Oakland and been served by 16 pastors. It has been known by 5 different names: Swedish Emmanuel Church (1887), the Swedish Mission Church (1890), The Mission Covenant Church (1930), the Evangelical Covenant Church (late 1950's) and First Covenant Church (mid 1960's).
There is such a wealth of historical information available to us it is nearly impossible to distill into a concise format. We have elected to put forward the major threads or themes that appear again and again throughout the decades.
1. The Centrality of the Word of God - "where is it written?" or "what does the Bible say?" - these were common responses to the questions of life. God's Word is seen as the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine and conduct. The importance of strong Biblical preaching/teaching has always been a primary focus of the church. This emphasis continues today with our pastoral staff focus on Scripture and preaching the gospel.
2. Prayer - the members of the church devoted themselves to prayer. In addition to individual and small group prayer, weekly prayer meetings were held, and for many years, an entire week was given to prayer in January. "Concerts of Prayer" and neighborhood prayer walks have been conducted throughout the city.
Currently, a prayer team meets weekly at FCC and confidential prayer requests are covered by the diaconate and pastoral staff. From time to time focused prayer is undertaken for specific needs.
3. Missions - we are a mission-centric church - started by missionaries, supportive of missionaries and a sender of missionaries across the world. This has been true since the first years of the church and continues to the present day.
In addition to supporting numerous Covenant missionaries and missions programs, FCC is closely involved with work in Cambodia and India.
4. Youth and family ministry - we have always pursued a vibrant youth ministry - providing teaching, discipleship, training and fellowship for our youth. Strengthening and supporting families by engaging and encouraging the spiritual life of our youth is an ongoing goal.
Examples of this investment are seen in Treehouse Preschool and Kindergarten (est. 1975), middle-school, high school and college programs, Kids Camp, Rural Outreach, Camp Cov and Mission Springs Conference Center.
5. Worship and music - FCC has enjoyed and nurtured many fine musicians and composers over the years. Music is a wonderful expression of worship and an important part of our church. In the early years, there were string bands, choruses and choirs. Today we enjoy a great diversity of music. We are blessed with facilities that are suitable for concert venues as well as intimate gatherings.
Worship services incorporate pipe organ, piano, numerous acoustic, electric and percussion instruments, a sanctuary choir, chamber ensemble, kids choir, handbells, praise bands and many gifted musicians.
6. Lay Leadership - one of the great strengths of FCC has been the equipping and encouragement of our lay leaders. A focus on training up future leaders and helping them grow into the areas in which they are gifted by God and called by God to serve has provided strength and vitality to the congregation since its inception. The first deacon and deaconess corps was formed in 1920 and a Covenant Women's group began in 1930.
While we have excellent staff, who are needed and greatly depended upon, the majority of our ministries are conducted by volunteers. A myriad of ministries serving our congregation at all ages and stages and areas of need are ongoing.
In addition to these major "threads" there are certain characteristics that appeared throughout our history: We want to identify these as important to our future, because they are characteristics that are God-honoring.
1. Risk-taking/flexibility/stepping out in faith - from the very beginning there was a dependence upon the will of God, seeking His will and then stepping out in faith.
This was clearly exhibited each time the congregation made a change in location. Several members mortgaged their personal homes to raise funds for the purchase of land and building materials. Personal sacrifices were made for the benefit of God's work.
In the 1930's the church started a radio ministry, starting with 15-minute meditations and eventually expanding to include Sunday morning and evening services. A Swedish language program also aired.
For more than 30 years, services were conducted in Swedish, yet the leaders saw that in order to keep the youth engaged and in order to grow the congregation, it was time to incorporate English, and eventually to retire the use of the Swedish language in services.
As the congregation becomes more culturally diverse, fewer "old-country" traditions are observed. A great deal of grace has been exhibited, both in giving up and in continuing to honor cultural traditions of the past. The annual Christmas Smorgasbord is one of the few that remain. FCC also celebrates an International Dinner, where the foods, music and costumes of many cultures are enjoyed together.
In 2005, FCC welcomed a Cambodian congregation into our fellowship, incorporating their pastor into our pastoral staff and including them in our faith community.
2. Facing Adversity - the church has come through many challenges, many societal issues and some natural/physical challenges. In each case, adjustments were made and the church found ways to reach out, to serve and to stand fast.
- competition from false teaching/famous tent-evangelist (1889-90?)
- the 1906 earthquake brought an influx of people seeking refuge from San Francisco
- 1911 exodus of Swedish families to the San Joachin Valley
- World War I - 17 young men from the church gave military service (all returned)
- the Depression/economic upheaval
- World War II - 100 young people entered military service; the church also
provided meals/beds/hospitality to many visiting servicemen
- 1960's cultural revolution/anti-war demonstrations
- 1989 earthquake
- 1991 Oakland Hills fire
3. Connecting/creating community - in the early years, the church community sought connection among other Swedish immigrants, creating a faith community in a new place. They continued to make connections and create community, eventually expanding out of their safe spaces into new places and new groups of people. Sunday Schools were planted throughout the East Bay in several neighborhoods, as far afield as Lafayette, Antioch and Pittsburg.
Community is created within the church today through focused ministry (youth, men, women) and through connection groups, Bible study and targeted support groups.
We continue to look outward into the larger community, as God leads, to find more places where we can serve and bring His light to our world. In some cases, individuals have launched out to start something new; in other cases, the church has stepped out to partner with others. We have been involved in church planting and supporting ministries such as Faith Network, New Day for Children, Serve Oakland, among others.
4. Encouraging Vision - FCC has a tradition of honoring the vision/calling of its people. When a vision for ministry is expressed, the leadership prayerfully consider whether it is in keeping with Scripture, with our articles of faith and its suitability within the church body and existing ministries. If so, the church encourages the development of gifts and willingness to serve. Our Stephen Ministry program is a good example.
5. Denominational Connection - FCC is part of the Pacific Southwest Conference and the Evangelical Covenant Church.
FCC participates in the regional conference activities and in the mid-winter and annual meetings of the denomination. All of our pastors are ordained by the denomination following completion of course requirements and licensing.
In years past, FCC participated in gatherings of area Covenant churches, retreats and events at Mission Springs Conference Center. Mission Springs was started by Bay Area Covenanters who built vacation cabins in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Over the years, the Covenant invested in property and the campground/conference center became a destination for Covenanters from around the region. While a number of FCC member families still maintain cabins there, and the annual all-church retreat is held there, the interaction and inter-connection among members of other area churches is not as active as in earlier days.
Excerpt from Livsrön - J L Lindquist - The Oakland Years (1886)
Twenty-Five Years Remembered 1887-1912, Swedish Mission Church,
Axel G. Samuelson, Anniversary publication, re-issued 2012
God of the Past, Our Times are in Thy Hand A Chronicle of the Circling Years
75th Anniversary Publication, 1962
90th Anniversary Banquet presentation, First Covenant Church, Oakland, California
Including Decade by Decade Summaries, 1887-1977
Roots -- Anchors or Wings? Jim Holst, 1985
Mobilizing for Harvest in the 90's, First Covenant Church, Master Plan 1989-1994
June 1989, Revision June 1990
Ministry Planning Group, First Covenant Church, September 1997
Ambassador's Presentation, Jim Holst, November 2007
First Covenant Church Profile for Lead Pastor Search, April 30, 2015
Audio Transcript, April 5, 2017
Stan Olson, Jim Holst, Steve Olsen, Nancy Olsen, Joan Sweetman, Ruth Hamilton
Some Features I Recall Regarding the Characteristics of FCC in Earlier Years,
Stan Olson, April 2017
Questions for the future:
Where can we be of service in new ways?
How can we better train up new leaders?
How can we reach out to our local community?
What ministries should be re-instituted?
How can we create new connections?
- inter-generational - adopt grandparents - tech training
- common experience - special needs - grief - caregiving
- common interest - cooking - art - literature - theater
- telling stories/filming
- talent shows
- hymn sings
- game nights/craft nights