In 2016, SPC set out on a rich process of self-reflection and assessment about who we are and where the future is calling us. The Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT) has been the framework for that reflection.
The Shenandoah Presbytery requires that each congregation going through a pastoral transition complete the full CAT process. The first two phases of the CAT (done in 2016 and 2017) provided clarity about the health, identity and values of this faith community. The results of that work have been incredibly valuable as we put together material for the interim Pastor search and work to understand the leadership needs for SPC now and in the future. 
Last October, we completed the final phase of the CAT: a short 9 question survey, which we lovingly refer to as the “Mini-CAT.” These questions asked us to look to the future.
So, what did we learn from the mini CAT?
First, we learned that our members intend to stay engaged in the life of SPC. Of those who participated in the survey, 98% said their level of involvement at SPC would stay the same or increase after Pastor Tremba’s retirement; 95% said they would maintain their degree of involvement or even take on more responsibility; and 98% indicated they would maintain or increase their level of giving as needed during the transition. 94% indicated that they have no intention of exploring other churches. These results reflect a strong commitment to SPC, despite entering a period of uncertainty and change. 
Second, we learned that the majority of folks who completed the survey would like the church to continue in the same overall direction.
Third, we learned which skills/attributes the congregation believes are most important for our next called pastor. The top three attributes selected were 1) preaching, 2) strategic leadership, and 3) pastoral care. SPC’s priorities were quite comparable to other churches. 
The CAT surveys have provided helpful information on where we are and where we’re going, but they are not “absolute” indicators. So, more work needs to be done to chart the path ahead.
Our transition is ongoing and multi-faceted. As a result, the nature of the CAT team’s work has become increasingly strategic in focus and less tied to the results of the survey. So, the Session has approved the creation of a Strategic Planning Committee (comprised initially of members of the CAT team) to work with the Session on topics involving SPC’s mission and vision for ministry.
In the coming months, the Strategic Planning Committee will be engaging the congregation in a round of conversations about areas of SPC’s ministry that should be strengthened and/or explored. They will also continue to work with the congregation and Session to further crystallize SPC’s role and purpose in the life of the congregation, community and beyond. 
Thank you for your input and we look forward to more dialogue.
Prepared by the Strategic Planning Committee (formally known as the CAT team) Bill Ashforth, Ethel Hornbeck, Lois Spreen, Anne Teresa, Leslie Williams, Judy York  and Carolee Youngblood.