In the Interim

An interim period of time in the life of a congregation can seem like a liminal space between what has been and what will be. This fertile ground can be an opportunity for healing, reflection, and prayerful discernment of future hopes and dreams. This past Sunday, I was invited to lead worship at a congregation that is using this interim period of time to look critically at their identity as well as how others perceive them.


Orange Presbyterian Church is nestled on Main Street of downtown Orange County, Virginia. Serving as interim pastor, Rev. Liz Hulme Adam encouraged the Session of the congregation to explore a mission study as they discern a plan of action for the future of the congregation as well as their hopes for their next installed pastor. Spear-headed by Clerk of Session, Ralph Graves, the congregation will begin surveying this winter.

With a goal in mind to explore both the congregational and community perceptions of their institution, OPC will undergo a two-part study.

The first survey will focus upon how they perceive themselves as a congregation and how they perceive their strengths and weaknesses in their various ministries. Each participant will be asked to list congregational ministries by their perceived importance. Finally, each participant will also be asked to rate how well OPC carries out that particular ministry opportunity.

The second survey will focus upon community perceptions of the congregation from the perspective of organizations that work with OPC and those which use the congregational space. Some of those groups included, but are not limited to, pastors representing the Orange Ministerial Association, the local Habitat for Humanity offices (located on OPC property), the local Food Bank, Alcoholics Anonymous groups which gather at OPC, and GED training classes. It is vital to hear how the community perceives OPC’s role and value in the local community.

“Collectively, these surveys should give us a very realistic picture of whom we are and who we want to be”, said Graves. “This should help us determine how we can move forward and effectively do the work of Christ.”OPC will digest their survey results into goals for the future and will aid them in determining an accurate Ministry Information File for future pastoral candidates.

Has your congregation ever conducted a mission study? What were your goals? What did you learn about yourself as a congregation? Share your thoughts with us!

Nicole Childress Ball, Church Relations Officer




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