January 2023: The next step in our Tending Our Soil process, the Durham Parish 'Readiness 360' survey, is ready to go.  All parishioners are asked to complete the survey.

A link to the survey will be sent out by email on January 12.  If you can't find it, please email the church or call Rev. Catharine or Deacon Susan and we will re-send it to you.


This survey will help us answer the question, “Where do our greatest strengths lie?”
This is important as we look to the future and find out what our church does well and what we don’t do so well, and also what our capacity for growth is as we move our church into the future.
The only cost to you is time. The survey is conducted online and takes about 30 minutes. Everyone is encouraged to take this survey. We are asking that members of couples each take the survey individually, and not offer joint responses. We want and need to hear everyone’s voices.
Confidentially is guaranteed. No one will know what each person answers. 
We will have computers available in the Parish Hall for those that need assistance on Sunday, 15 and 22 January. If these times don’t work for you talk to the Tending our Soil Team.
If you skip the survey, your voice will be missing when we make plans for the future.
Tending our Soil Team: Mary, Rick V., Jinjer, Sue K., Deacon Sue and Rev. Catharine.

November 2022: We have completed our first Tending Our Soil congregational exercise! Thank you to everyone who participated and helped with the set-up and meals.  This first exercise was designed to help us articulate our core values, beliefs, and practices as a congregation.  Thriving congregations are generally able to clearly articulate their core identity and how it fits with God’s mission.  In a paraphrase of Frederick Buechner’s well-known definition of vocation, thriving congregations can generally tell you just where and how their deepest passion meets the world’s deepest needs.  

Below are the results of our first Tending Our Soil congregational exercise.  

First, some definitions:

  • Core “values" form the base, the most basic level.  They are the way we see the world, the assumptions that guide our thinking.
  • Core “values” give rise to core “beliefs”, convictions about what is true.
  • We express our core values and core beliefs in our core “practices,”  the things we actually do.

When we as a congregation were asked to identify our core practices, “Beauty” and “Hospitality” were the most-commonly noted choices, with “Worship” in third place. 

As defined on the "Practices" sheet that we had when we completed this exercise,
 BEAUTY meant "Touching the divine; encountering the Holy through visual arts, singing, instrumental music, poetry, dance, and architecture."
HOSPITALITY (10 times) meant "Creating spaces where strangers and wayfarers become friends and transformation can happen; extending welcome to the breadth of human life; lack of judgment."
WORSHIP (6 times) meant "Experiencing God; opening people to transcendent experience of God; practices of divine awe, mystery, and wonder."

None of the other practices listed was chosen more than three times. 

Values & Beliefs

When we were asked to identify the core values and beliefs that we express through our practices, the answers were a bit more spread out.  Among “Values,” that is, the lens through which we see the world, “Tradition” was the most-commonly noted choice, followed by “Honor,” “Adaptability,” and “Care.”  
TRADITION (7) “A long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting.”
HONOR (5) “Treating one another with respect; acting from a place of integrity and fairness.”
ADAPTABILITY (4) “The ability to adjust to different or changing circumstances.”
CARE (4) “To be concerned about others and show that concern.

When asked to identify our core beliefs, or assumptions about what is true, we chose “the dignity and worth of every person,” “user-friendly church experience,” and “value of community” (5 times each).  “The hard work necessary to make sure that all are welcomed” was chosen three times. 

April 2023. The next step in the Tending Our Soil process is getting to know our neighborhoods.

The TOS team is looking for guides to show us around.

We will be observing activities, people, and locations in order to better understand the people and families who are our neighbors in the larger community. We will be looking to see if there is a need that can be filled or a connection that can be made.
Can you be a guide for 3 of us at a time?

We would meet up at a mutually convenient location and travel in one car together to get to know your area better.  Each trip should take less than 2 hours.

Check out the signup link here.

Also, on Saturday May 5, Durham will host a meeting of our class of Tending Our Soil congregations for the final all-day Learning Lab of the year.  

The Learning Labs involve a worship service, meetings, and lunch, and they run from 8:30AM to 3:00PM.
We could use help with the registration table and parking directions in the morning, and with general support (coffee machine, finding supplies, etc) during the day.

Please speak to one of the TOS team (Jinjer, Sue K., Mary, Rick P., Deacon Susan, Rev. Catharine) if you can help out.

Keep up with our Tending Our Soil projects and events here.  To learn more about the initiative in general, check it out on the diocesan website here.

February 2023. We have completed the Readiness 360 congregational survey.  The over-view is printed below, and greater detail is available by clicking here.

The TOS team will be attending an all-day workshop in Silver Spring this month and their next project will involve interviews in the local community. Please keep the team in your prayers.

"Congratulations for being willing to engage in a serious conversation about your readiness to reach new people in new ways!  Through the Tending Our Soil program, Christ Church Durham engaged the Readiness 360 survey and consultation process. The survey many of you took assesses your church's spiritual and practical readiness for faithful and effective ministry in the 21st century. 33 persons took the Readiness 360, a mix of staff, key leaders, and active ministry participants.
Readiness 360 assesses four critical capacities for multiplying thriving ministries: Spiritual Intensity, Dynamic Relationships, Missional Alignment, and Cultural Openness. Your church’s overall score of 290 out of 360 is just about average. Old Durham is strongest in terms of Spiritual Intensity and is most challenged in terms of Cultural Openness.

Spiritual Intensity (76%).  There is some fire in people's hearts at Old Durham, but it isn't burning as brightly as it should. Old Durham has some work to do in strengthening the personal connection between your people and God and God's mission for you in the world. It would be wise to spend some time reconnecting with God through renewing spiritual practices both personally and as a church body.

Dynamic Relationships (72%).  In some respects, your church has seen some amazing relationships and friendships across the years. However, the DNA of these relationships is not currently indicative of the church as a whole. You have some work to do in terms of cultivating trust within the church and relating effectively to folks who are different from the majority of the members.

Missional Alignment (71%).  Many folks at your church have a good sense of where God is calling you to go, but others are not aligned with this point of view. There is seldom enough personnel or financial resources to run in many directions at once. Now is a time for serious conversation about Old Durham's priorities.

Cultural Openness (71%).  On one hand, many in the church want to reach diverse people, but many in the church still have great apprehension about what this might mean in terms of changing the face of Old Durham. There may be some limitations in terms of how far the church is able to reach toward different kinds of people in the next few years. Open communication will be critical."