Independent Presbyterian Church

An update from Strategic Planning Team co-chairs Houston Cook and Catherine Gregory

The Session approved the updated Independent Presbyterian Church Strategic Plan on March 21 at the regular meeting. Following the reorganized ministry team structure, the Strategic Planning ministry team worked with each of the ministry teams to create individual strategic plans for Witness, Worship, Music & Fine Arts, Congregational Ministries, Christian Education, House & Properties, Finance, Human Resources, and Stewardship. 

These plans included a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis, a review
of innovation ideas and a list of two to four strategic priorities.

The Ministry Teams also developed tactics and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Reasonable, Time-bound) goals for each strategic priority. The Ministry Teams worked extremely hard on completing this work, and we should all thank these team members for their efforts to de ne the future direction of our church.

In conjunction with the develop of these ministry team strategic plans, the Strategic Planning Ministry Team has established the organizational strategic priorities shown in the table below. These priorities will help guide prioritization and resource allocation between speci c ministry team tactics. The tactics for these priorities are contained within the ministry team strategic plans.

All of this work was accomplished internally without the expense of an outside consultant. We have already seen that these plans will be used heavily by our ministry teams to guide how they work together to achieve our mission– IPC Joining God in the World, Welcoming our Neighbors. CLICK HERE TO SEE PLAN.


Auburn and Columbia Seminary Grad The Rev. Patrick Harley leaves pastor position at Ottawa Presbyterian Church in Ohio to return to Alabama. He'll lead the presbytery's Birmingham area college campus ministry starting this month. 

Q: Why did you decide to become a minister?

A: Revs. Lillian Daniel and Martin Copenhaver wrote a book titled, This Odd and Wondrous Calling, and I can't think of a better description of the joyful and unpredictable work of ministry. Most days, being a minister doesn't make sense, especially to people who describe the church as "not my cup of tea." But I simply couldn't imagine doing

I don't mean that in a "Well, I flunked out of culinary school and then tried being a tattoo artist and it didn't go too well so it appears I'm out of options," sort of way. What I mean is I'm sure I could have found a niche somewhere else, but I don't want to imagine living a life and that life not include being in vocational ministry. I'd like to hope that human beings, at our core, want to offer something beautiful to the world. I find that the most meaningful way for me offer such is through using my energy, creativity, and spiritual gifts as a minister alongside God's people.

Q: How did you sense God calling you to UKirk Birmingham?

A: It began as curiosity. I'd like to think I was minding my own business up in Ohio where I was serving a Ottawa Presbyterian Church when one of my best friends mentioned this "new thing in Birmingham" to me. I thought to myself, "There's no way this is as good as it sounds." Well, sure enough, the more text messages I sent and phone calls I made, I realized it wasn't as good- it was better. Sure, the challenges for this ministry are many, but anyone who has been involved in this new endeavor can tell you, "God is up to something." At the end of the day, I discerned this call the way it's meant to be discerned in the Presbyterian tradition: through community. In conversations with the many faithful committee members here in Birmingham, the students, and close friends and family and colleagues, it became clear to me that if this sense of call was mutual and an opportunity was extended to me, I just couldn't say no.

Q: You’ve worked with youth at First Presbyterian Church in Auburn and in Belfast, Ireland through PC(USA) as a Young Adult Volunteer. What is the most rewarding part of working with young people?

A: Young people have so much that the Church needs to tap into, right here and right now. The energy and imagination and passion is not only powerful, but infectious. And getting to walk alongside young people as they grow spiritually and discern their futures is a Holy honor.

Q: What do you look forward to the most about returning to Alabama?

A: In addition to the many close friends in Alabama, the answer has to be (proper) sweet tea! I've missed that divine nectar while living north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Oh, and getting to say, "y'all" without getting funny looks.

Q: Share a fun fact about yourself.

A: I dabbled in Stand Up Comedy while in Atlanta. In fact, I did an independent study my last year at Columbia Theological Seminary on Stand Up Comedy, Preaching, and Ethical Rhetoric. It was a blast, especially because so much of my research involved watching hysterical comedians and cheesy sermons on YouTube! 


Highland Hall is our family room where many visitors are welcomed to Independent Presbyterian Church for the first time. It’s a gathering place for 300 people every week to fellowship, to learn and to worship. In this space, people laugh, celebrate and grow.

To continue growing where people gather, Highland Hall will undergo a $1 million dollar renovation. Session approved some funding for the project. Now, IPC members Houston and Sheri will help the church raise an additional $545,000 as fundraising co-chairs of the Highland Hall campaign. They want everyone to get involved and nd ways to contribute to IPC’s future. Here’s a note from Houston:

"Highland Hall has become an integral part of the church, especially how we connect with the community. The space is used on a weekly basis by many key IPC groups, like the youth, IPC Day School, Boy Scouts and the 5 pm Sunday worship service. In addition, we welcome many community groups. In the future, we will be welcoming the new Birmingham area college ministry UKirk to our space.
While the original plan focused on making the building safer and more useful, the amended plan that we are now supporting through this campaign also takes into account many of IPC’s strategic priorities, including our focus on youth/young adult ministries and expanding our community outreach. More specifically, there will be a new coffee house and patio area that will expand our less formal spaces and support youth ministries and other community engagement. We will be adding a catering kitchen that will make food service for these many community events much easier to support. We will also be adding a new sound system and acoustics which can be leveraged for many events and functions.
IPC members should support this campaign because it is well aligned with our overall strategic priorities that were developed for the IPC Strategic Plan for Witness of ‘Joining God in the world by sharing the Gospel in both evangelism and social justice ministry,’ Engagement’s ‘Engaging the entire congregation to nd opportunities to connect and serve’ and Youth & Young Adults’ ‘Making young people a crucial part of IPC ministry to grow membership and engagement.’ This project touches all three of these key strategies and will enhance the life of the church. I hope that you will join Sheri and I in this transformative project to leverage our assets for our mission.”
The general contractor is Brasfield & Gorrie. Architect Andrew Hicks of Architecture Works and landscaper Norman Johnson are also part of this project."

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Related Links

IPC Publications:

Window monthly printed publication Window Archive

Update weekly printed
calendar & lectionary

Using Your Strengths in Service, a guide to spiritual growth and service opportunities at IPC.

Other Links:

The Daily Lectionary

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