The mission of APCE is to connect, enrich, empower, and sustain persons serving in educational ministry in the Reformed family of churches.

This statement has helped guide the purpose and ministry of The Association of Presbyterian Church Educators for about 20 years and was the result of the creative work of dedicated elected leaders of APCE.

The APCE Cabinet gathered in the fall of 2003 at the Heartland Retreat Center in Parkville, Missouri, about 15 minutes outside of Kansas City. I attended the meeting as the Chair of the 2005 Annual Event. I was invited to lead the group through a process to develop a mission statement. Believing that a good mission statement should be inspiring, exciting, clear, true and engaging, we began the process with high hopes.

The process we used was based on Laurie Beth Jones’ 1996 book, The Path: Your Mission Statement for Life and Work. Her belief is that a mission or purpose statement should be one sentence long, understood by a 12-year-old, and able to be recited from memory. Too many big, churchy words create a statement difficult to understand or commit to memory, and one that is likely to be left in a closet and never thought of again. Because mission requires action, the statement needs to include at least three action words–three verbs. In our case, we need four verbs to express the whole APCE mission.

Step one in creating a mission statement is to decide on the most important verbs, indicating actions that describe the mission and purpose for you or your organization. To “prime the pump,” we used a one-page sheet listing lots of verbs. Individually, participants selected three verbs. Then in pairs, they agreed on three verbs. The pairs moved into groups of four people and, finally, eight people in a group. By this time in the process, eight common verbs rose to the top, which the total group discussed toward agreement on the words to include in our statement. After much discussion, we settled on four verbs for the APCE Mission Statement to reflect the broad understanding of our purpose.

            Connecting as people are called to educational ministry.

            Enriching as workshops and resources are offered.

            Empowering as APCE advocates for persons serving in educational ministry.

            Sustaining as throughout a career and beyond, work goes on to provide support and    encouragement.

Step two in the process is to identify the core value by asking “What concept or principle is central to the mission/purpose of the group or person?” In the case of APCE, it was and is clearly “educational ministry.”

Step three is to check out the parts of the statement thus far. Can you do this mission at home, work, with family, with friends? We all agreed that APCE could move into the future guided by this statement.

Step four is to decide on your tribe- who is it you want to serve, be around, inspire, learn from and be affected by. The mission is “to, for, with or through” your identified tribe. To include all members, we chose “persons serving in the Reformed family of churches” as our tribe. This 2-page Mission Statement Process was used for the process.

For the APCE Cabinet, the process was fun, interactive, and generated lots of ownership. Our work resulted in the statement that still seems to express the purpose of APCE in one sentence, can be understood by a 12-year-old, and can be recited from memory. It is exciting to see how many different ways our organization has chosen to connect, enrich, empower and sustain educators, pastors, volunteers, and musicians in faithful, timely, and creative ways in our Reformed family of churches. The Holy Spirit must have been present around our visioning tables so many years ago.

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Elaine Barnett

Elaine Barnett facilitated the process of developing the current Mission Statement for APCE. She has been a member of APCE since 1983, is a Past President of APCE, and was the Educator of the Year in 2006.