Vision 20/20

20/20 Vision Champions

SAconnects magazine presents its first Vision Champions installment, where selected officers and lay leaders share best practices. In this issue, Captain Darell Houseton talks about the vision. He and Captain Willow Houseton are corps officers at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Boston, Mass.

How did you become a Vision Champion?
Colonel Paula S. Johnson, territorial secretary for Women’s Ministries, asked if I’d be willing to participate on the committee. Field officers and soldiers and most other people affiliated with the Army want to have a voice in determining the direction of what they’ve invested so much of their life. I thought it would be a great opportunity to represent some of them. As officers, we don’t know how long we’re going to be at any given appointment, so its important that our local stake holders have a say in the vision we’re casting.

What do you find exciting about the 20/20 Vision?
What excites me most is that the vision is outcome–based. This is an opportunity to be productive, versus just being busy. I see the vision as a tool that will allow us to set goals and base our ministries around what we want our outcomes to be.

The 20/20 Vision Kit has been helpful. We immediately disseminated that information through our corps council and other persons. It was important for them to be on the same page.

The vision plan is open and public. I think our territorial leaders have done a great job of releasing that information through SAconnects magazine and on other platforms such as social media and on SAconnects.org.

At our corps council meetings, we developed evaluations and narratives as they relate to our community and we set goals. To ensure the members’ input, we released information ahead of time. They recognized the evaluation component is not a damnation of the things we don’t do, but shines a light on the areas that can grow. Once we made that clear, people bought in.

What does the community say it needs?
We heard the desires of their heart, which is to have good local leaders. Dorchester is one of the largest Cape Verdean communities in the country. Although we also have a diverse corps, we’ve yet to reflect the number of Cape Verdeans who live here.

The Cape Verdean culture is unique in that, when people see them, they assume they’re from a small island in the Caribbean. But the island country is actually in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa. The language barriers are also unique in that the people speak Portuguese, Creole, and broken English.

The good news is they use our Kroc facilities. Hundreds of people come each day. But we also realize we need to get into the community and reach people who don’t walk through our doors.

How will you reach them?
One of the people tools included in the 20/20 Vision Kit is cross–cultural ministry. We want our programming to generate the right kind of cultural response.

For example, our community is big on food. So maybe we prepare some Cape Verdean dishes or invite them to cook a dinner for us. We’ll also invite them into our services, which will allow them to recognize we are a church as well as a community center.

Sports, such as soccer clinics and league play, are a large portion of what we offer, and they speak directly into the community. For the older generation, we’re hoping to start English classes to improve their literacy.

Our social services manager is Cape Verdean. He speaks all the languages in our neighborhood. My wife, Captain Willow Houseton, speaks Spanish. At any given moment, there is someone in the building who can speak your language.

We’re thinking of having our signs translated into Portuguese and Creole to help people feel welcome. They’ve retained their language and culture throughout the span of their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generations in the United States, which is impressive.

What will success look like?
It will be a work in progress. But in five years, what I’d like to see here is a congregation that represents all the cultures outside our building.

What is the takeaway for readers?

  • Programming needs to be based on achievable outcomes.
  • If you want more young people, you need to put more of them in leadership of what you are doing.
  • Be willing to take the risk of doing something new and different.
  • Make this plan yours. Make it applicable to your community. Get people involved; don’t try to do it yourself.
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