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Welcome to First Congregational Church of Western Springs

We are people of extravagant welcome. Whether you are young or old, gay or straight, single or partnered, happy or sad, confused or inspired, street smart or college-educated, whether you can’t pay your bills or have more than enough to share—no matter who  you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome to join us as we worship and praise the God who welcomes us all.

Strategic Vision Survey

Our church is embarking on an important journey to discover God's will for the ministries of our church. The first step is a comprehensive all-church survey. Through this survey we hope to identify ways to improve, strengthen and nurture the church and its ministries. The opinions and perspectives of all members and friends of First Congo are important. We appreciate your prayerful and honest answers to the survey questions.


Please Help Us Keep Our Future Bright:


  • Pray:  Ask for God's guidance as you answer the survey questions.
  • Sip:  The survey will take approximately 25-30 minutes, so get yourself comfortable and grab something to sip as you survey.
  • Survey:  Click here to complete the survey. (This survey must be completed in one sitting, and is completely anonymous.) 
If you'd like to learn more before starting the survey, please continue reading.



Strategic Vision Survey - FAQ


1.    Why are we doing this survey now?

Our church is embarking on an important journey to discern God’s will for the ministries of our church. The first step is a comprehensive all-church survey. Through this survey we hope to identify ways to improve, strengthen and nurture the church and our ministries.  The opinions and perspectives of all members and friends of First Congo are important.  We appreciate your prayerful and honest answers to the survey questions.


2.    How long will the online survey take?

It will take approximately 30 minutes to complete the survey.  It is 100 questions long and does need to be completed in one sitting.  Discerning God’s will takes time!!!

3.    Can I do parts of it and then return to my computer to finish in a couple of days? Unfortunately, no.  The way the survey was designed, it must be completed in one sitting and should take approximately 30 minutes of your time.

4.    I'm not comfortable using a computer for this sort of thing.  Is there a way to complete the survey on paper?

Yes.  Hard copies of the survey are available in the mailroom at church.  You may return the completed survey to the box provided in the mailroom.  Someone from the team will enter your data into the system.  Please do not write your name on the survey so we can maintain your anonymity.

5.    By what date do I have to complete the survey?

Our survey will be active from Sunday, September 7 through Sunday, September 28.  We will be getting participation updates throughout the three weeks, so why not do it now!  To get started, click here.

6.    Is it anonymous?

Yes.  We are working with a third party to administer the survey and they will compile the results anonymously.  You will not be asked for your name.  You will be asked for demographic information so that we may compare and contrast the opinions of different groups and start to draw some conclusions about the direction of the church.

7.    I haven’t really been involved at the church lately, why do I need to do this?

It may be most important that you complete the survey.  We would like to know why members become less involved and if there are ways in which to enhance and maintain as many actively involved members as possible.  We need to hear from you!

8.    Didn't we just do a survey?

You may be thinking of the Everyone Survey conducted last year.  That project was designed to get a sense of the interests of individuals and ultimately to match people with opportunities available at our church.  This survey is looking specifically at our ministries – everything from worship to small groups to outreach and spiritual development. 

9.    Our church is pretty perfect in my opinion, why do we even need to consider changing anything?

We love it too!  We are a thriving congregation full of people who find meaning, spiritual growth and opportunities within our walls.  But we must not become complacent.  To maintain our vibrancy and connection with our current and future members, we need to continue looking forward – to engage, connect and include all members of our congregation.  We know that “church” is more than worship on Sunday morning. We find spiritual connection through a variety of ministries that are meaningful in different ways to different people.  Let’s keep our future bright. 

10. Will the results be made public?

Yes, the most insightful and useful findings will be available in a report at the conclusion of the study.  As you can imagine, with a 100-question survey, there will be enormous amounts of data collected and the Strategic Vision Team will use that information in its entirety to build our long-range plan.

11.   What's the end goal of this?

The Strategic Vision Team has been charged with discerning God’s will for the ministries of our church.  We are asking each member to give their input on experiences, perceptions and aspirations so that we may develop a thoughtful long-range plan (3-5 years).  This is nothing new for our church.  The last long-range plan was completed in 2008 and from that plan, we adopted the following Mission Statement:

Joined as a congregation through the grace of Jesus Christ, we are called:

to worship God together in wonder and in faith,

to increase our love of God by increasing our love of neighbor,

to connect the stories and truths of Scripture with our daily lives,

to open our lives to the transforming power of God’s love,

to follow Christ to the side of those who suffer and despair, and

to welcome all people as children of God.

We invite any who wish to join us, to share in the joys and challenges of this calling.


And the following Value Statement:

The Values we wish to be guided by:

We, the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, look toward the future with hope and anticipation, valuing these commitments to guide us on the way:

By God’s grace, we commit ourselves anew…

to remember whose we are, that we might be faithful in worship, study, prayer, care of one another and of the world;

to proclaim in word and deed Jesus as the living Christ, God’s love and justice made flesh;

to seek God’s way for us by listening for God’s Word in Holy Scriptures

in our rich heritage, in faithful witness, in our evolving human experience,

and in the fresh winds of the Holy Spirit;

to act in the freedom of conscience and right of individual discernment,

while living out the call to covenantal relationship with one another;

to be a welcoming community where all might know they are accepted and belong, sharing Christ’s open table with open heart;

to spiritually nourish, inspire and keep safe our children and youth in the unfolding journey of their Christian faith;

to lift up our tradition of theological education, shared learning and the free exchange of ideas;

to respond with energy, intelligence, imagination and love to the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of our congregation in every season and passage  of life;

to connect the truth of the Scriptures with our daily lives, highlighting the relevance of faith to all aspects of life and society;

to make real the “priesthood of all believers,” where members of all ages and stages are freed in the Spirit to share their gifts and unique calling in the  ministries of Christ;

to partner with others who share a common vision of God’s shalom for this world through ecumenical commitment, witness and ministries;

to risk the reach beyond our own walls in sharing the message of Christ’s love, justice and grace, that lives may be renewed, spirits revived, and the world transformed.

In addition,

  • A communications ministry was formed, that resulted in the enhanced website; and the addition of communication vehicles such as the Monday and Friday emails and the creation of our Facebook page.
  • The development of a succession and contingency plans to deal with planned and unplanned turnover, and the resulting hiring of Mike Tilden and Rev. Katherine Willis Pershey;
  • An increased emphasis on small groups and spiritual formation, including the addition of Bible Study and Moms in Faith book studies/discussion;
  • The revision and updating of our Church’s constitution;
  • The increased time in worship for quiet reflection and prayer;
  • An ongoing emphasis on the importance of music ministry and the addition of two children’s choirs and dedicated music leadership; and,
  • The ongoing emphasis of pastoral care with succession planning upon Rev. Paul Stiffler’s retirement and the installation of Rev. Meredith Onion

Ready to begin? Click here to complete the survey. (Remember, the survey must be completed in one sitting, and is completely anonymous.)

Strategic Vision Team Charter


May the strategic vision team engage in a spirit-filled process seeking God’s will for the future of our church.  May the process be such that friendships are forged and bonds are strengthened.  May everyone involved be moved to speak truthfully and may all opinions be heard and respected.  May the work be enjoyable, and may balance and light be brought forth.  May self-interests be cast aside so that God’s will for the work and mission of the Church prevail.  May the team's work be thorough, inclusive and far-reaching, focusing on:

*  discerning how God is calling us to employ our congregational resources/gifts -- spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and financial -- most faithfully in the worship of God and service to our neighbor.

*  discerning how our ministries reflect a journey taken individually and together to discover God's presence in our lives and how that discovery informs our lives.

Practically speaking, may the Team identify ways to improve, strengthen and grow the church and its ministries.  For example:

o   How can we continue to nurture new members, helping them to become involved, and keeping them engaged?

o   How can we connect spiritually with individuals of all ages to be an inclusive congregation and keep them engaged and active.

o   How can we create more opportunities for individual and group spiritual formation?

o   How can we strengthen our ministries beyond the walls of our church?

o   How can we address succession planning regarding our clergy and staff to ensure our ability to carry out our vision?

o   How can we develop a long-term plan for our congregation's financial health to ensure that funds are available for long-term maintenance of our facilities and ongoing ministries.

And may the plan unfold with love, kindness and service as the underpinning of the ministries discerned!

Strategic Vision Team Members:

Brian and Zada Clarke, Mary Lee Gosz (co-chair), Chuck Kierscht, Jean Larson (co-chair), Meredith Onion (staff liaison), Steve Perez, Gary Doten, Sarah and Jay Finnane, Marv Baldwin, Tracey Scodro, and Nancy Sutherland.



Click here to complete the survey. (This survey must be completed in one sitting, and is completely anonymous.)

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