Our Vision for the Future

Pastoral Vision
By Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister

From the Beginning of 2018 until the end of 2022, Sunshine Cathedral will:
1. Embrace the spirituality of giving.
2. Reach more people than ever with our positive message.
3. Focus on living daily and gathering regularly as people of faith.
4. Understand that progressive, positive, practical spirituality is also justice seeking spirituality.
5. Dare to dream big and trust that the dreams we dream are really possible.

From 2007 to 2017 Sunshine Cathedral endeavored to:
1. To promote progressive, positive, practical spirituality within the Sunshine Cathedral community and beyond.
2. To continue building a culture of gratitude and generosity, where every active member gives generously of time, talent, and treasure to the work of Sunshine Cathedral.
3. To have 1200 weekly worshipers.
4. To continue reaching out to South Florida, the Caribbean, and beyond.
5. To improve the quality and accessibility of Religious Education.

For a detailed analysis of the 10 year vision and the 5 year vision that followed, read below:

Pastoral Vision
On November 3rd, 2007, Sunshine Cathedral installed a new Senior Minister. The next day in a sermon he outlined a 10 year vision:
1. To promote progressive, positive, practical spirituality within the Sunshine Cathedral community and beyond.
2. To continue building a culture of gratitude and generosity, where every active member gives generously of time, talent, and treasure to the work of Sunshine Cathedral.
3. To have 1200 weekly worshipers.
4. To continue reaching out to South Florida, the Caribbean, and beyond.
5. To improve the quality and accessibility of Religious Education.

After Ten Years – How’d we do?
Sharing our spiritual experience
1. Sunshine Cathedral is widely known as a progressive faith community. Using Facebook, Twitter, Constant Contact, You Tube, Second Life, our website, our in-house newsletter (Sun Burst), our periodical magazine (Spirit & Truth), print advertising, palm cards, and our eco-bin sign on Wilton Drive, we are constantly sharing our message of all-inclusive divine Love and the sacred value of all people with the world.

Culture of generosity
2. Money problems we will always have with us, but we have built a culture of generosity and we will continue to do so. A decade ago this church was some $300,000 in the red. But we tackled our problems. We trimmed the budget, we became creative and indefatigable with fundraisers, and we started teaching the biblical principle of tithing (percentage giving). We asked everyone to do what they could to help their church be financially stable and healthy. And sure enough, year after year, the amount we were in the red decreased, and then we started ending years in the black.

Also, in 2016 we dedicated our new columbarium/memorial chapel, retired our property’s mortgage, and installed two new stained glass windows on the property. In 2017 we installed new flooring and seating (giving us 100 extra seats in the worship center). In 2018 we installed 5 additional stained glass windows. And, along the way, we have raised money for Breast Cancer awareness and treatment, AIDS services, churches in need, hurricane relief, and we have generously shared resources with the Global Justice Institute (which aids and empowers LGBTQ people all over the world) and we have shared with other worthy organizations (Divine Science Federation, International Council of Community Churches, The Religious Institute, Church World Service, etc.).

Meanwhile, we have faithfully collected literally tons of food for local food banks and are in our third year of providing brown bag lunches to food insecure individuals. In 2019 we began distributing bags of groceries as well. By all indications, we have created a culture of generosity and that generosity is making a difference in lives all over the world.

Numerical growth
3. We had no idea in 2007 that the decade ahead would show dramatic decrease in worship attendance nationwide, that church closures would happen more frequently, that entire denominations would decline, and that the non-religious would become the fastest growing “religious” group. But even as church trends changed over the last decade and church growth became more challenging than ever, we actually lived into our goal in some pretty exciting ways.

Our Sunday morning attendance runs between 400 and 550 depending on the time of the year with it nearing or breaking 1000 for Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday (it can be below 400 on some summer Sundays). However, we have more than Sunday morning on campus worship services. We also have Second Life services (virtual reality), services at Assisted Living Facilities, special services throughout the year (Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Thanksgiving, etc.). When we add all our worship services, we reach more than 75% of our 2007-2017 goal.

We also have classes, groups, and a lot of “online” activity (including people watching our services online). When we add all attendance metrics together (including “virtual” activity), we usually have over 10,000 people worshiping/praying/studying with us in some fashion, and some weeks, that number exceeds 16,000! That means that by various means, we have not 1,200 but 12,000 (12k) and even more per week praying with us. That deserves a hallelujah!

Outreach
4. Our outreach efforts have remained constant and we continue trying to improve them.

Religious education
5. The religious education arm of Sunshine Cathedral is The Samaritan Institute (formerly known as Light University). TSI trains prayer chaplains/practitioners, deacons, New Thought community ministers, offers continuing education for deacons and ministers, and offers personal enrichment courses open to all. TSI is approved by the state of Florida to offer religious degrees. TSI is recognized by Divine Science Federation International as a ministerial training program. And TSI has students not only locally but also at a distance in places such as Pennsylvania, Utah, Idaho, Missouri, Arizona, and the west coast of Florida. We have indeed improved the quality and access of religious education at the Sunshine Cathedral.

An Arts Church
This was not in the “official” vision shared in 2007, but Dr. Watkins told people when he arrived in 2006 (he was the liturgist for a little over a year before he became the senior minister) that he wanted Sunshine Cathedral to be an “arts” church (featuring various performing arts – film, comedy, cabaret, instrumental and choral music, drama, poetry, dance, even “drag” performance, etc.) as a way of building community and lifting spirits and demonstrating that life is meant to be joyous. We are definitely an Arts Church today.

Peale as a Model
Norman Vincent Peale was a pioneer in bringing psychological counseling to church ministry and using various media (television, radio, print) to share his positive message. He also used his Marble Collegiate Church pulpit to share his message of Positive Thinking which was influenced by such New Thought luminaries as Charles and Myrtle Fillmore (Unity), Ernest Holmes (Science of Mind/Religious Science), and Emmet Fox (Divine Science). Therapeutic (healing), positive spirituality mixed with social science and the arts…that was Peale’s game plan and we are doing something similar at Sunshine Cathedral.

Now What?
the ten year vision was based on need…need to stabilize after a time of transition, need to establish a clear direction under new leadership, need to put firm foundations under the lofty dreams that had already be expressed by previous, successful ministers, need to stabilize the finances that were stretched because of bold movement to create something grand and wonderful for our community. The 2007 list of goals for the decade was meant to stabilize, encourage, inspire, and lead us forward.

Today, looking ahead, we are in a different day. We are pretty stable and our previous goals have been in large measure met. So now, we need new goals, fresh dreams, and renewed commitment to move boldly beyond anything we’ve done or imagined so far.

Therefore, the Senior Minister offers a new 5 year pastoral vision for Sunshine Cathedral:
1. To encourage all church members and friends to discover the grace of giving and the spiritual value of stewardship so that we give not begrudgingly nor out of a sense of duty, but rather gladly, joyously, and as a means of worship. For the next five years lets us experience our giving as a Sacrament of Sharing.

2. To reach more people than ever before. The world is changing so rapidly, we cannot limit outreach to the means of the past nor should we try to determine what all the ways of the future will be; but let us be observant, adaptable, and committed so that we can touch more lives with good news, with hope and healing in as many ways as possible. However many people we are reaching today, let that number be exponentially larger 5 years from now.

3. To promote spiritual health and growth, encourage daily spiritual practices, and continue growing as a spiritual community that loves to play and pray and work and dream together.

4. To continue modeling progressive, positive, practical spirituality while acknowledging that such spirituality ought to also be a justice-seeking spirituality. The gospel witness is always mindful of the sick, the hurting, the marginalized, the struggling, and the dispossessed. Our positive thinking must lead to positive action that benefits us and the whole world.

5. To always know whatever we can dream, we can achieve; so, no matter how large the goal, the response should be “let us figure out how to make it happen” rather than allowing fear or doubt to persuade us that it can’t be done. Faith leads to faithfulness, and faithfulness can work miracles.

In Brief:
From the Beginning of 2018 until the end of 2022, Sunshine Cathedral will:
1. Embrace the spirituality of giving.
2. Reach more people than ever with our positive message.
3. Focus on living daily and gathering regularly as people of faith.
4. Understand that progressive, positive, practical spirituality is also justice seeking spirituality.
5. Dare to dream big and trust that the dreams we dream are really possible.

 

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