Our Path Forward

WCPres is on the journey of transition as we seek God’s direction for the next right steps in fulfilling the Great Commission. The purpose of this web page is to share information and resources to keep you well informed.

Below you will find more information:

Our Path Forward
Mission Study

Completed October 2017

Our goal and passion as identified in Our Path Forward report and presentation is the Great Commission: to be a strong community that is reaching the unchurched with the gospel and seeing God transform our lives, our neighbors, and our world.

This is the same objective we have had as a church since our founding over 140 years ago.

The primary question is: “How can Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church obtain the leadership and energy in the next era to achieve the greatest Kingdom impact in the most efficient and effective way?”

Menlo Church Option
A Unique Partnership Under Exploration

Session has been exploring strategies to accomplish our goal of being a strong community of faith that’s reaching the unchurched. One opportunity that has presented itself is to explore a partnership with Menlo Church, formerly known as Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Session is exploring this unique opportunity to partner with a church that shares our doctrine, our evangelistic vision, our history, and has a proven record of effectively expanding the Kingdom in the Bay Area.

Session has been reading the book, Better Together. Menlo Church uses this book as a model when considering partnerships. Copies of the book are available in the church library, or you can read a summary here.

Both WCPres and Menlo Sessions have decided to enter into a “due diligence” process where the two churches will be engaged in asking and answering a variety of questions that explore the following areas: ministries, finances, programs, staff, legal aspects (property) and more. During this time of talking, all facets of what a relationship would look like are being explored.  If any insurmountable stumbling blocks are identified in this phase, then further discussions will cease and we will move on in our separate ways.

Through all of this discussion, our primary question is "Will we be better together at bringing the Gospel to Walnut Creek and the Diablo Valley, than we would be on our own?"

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions with answers. This section will be updated as more information is gathered.

About a Partnership
About a Joint Venture
About Menlo Church
Vision and Mission
Due Diligence
From the Transition Mailbox

Here are some of the inquiries and responses from the Transition Mailbox.

What are the facts regarding our current financial condition? How does this impact Session’s interest in considering a partnership with Menlo Church?

Our current financial situation is one of continual adjustment. For the last several years, we have been managing our expenses to coincide, as best we can, with the giving and revenue received. The giving to the general fund has been declining over the last 10 years which means less funding is available to ministries, outreach and missions. There are many important factors to consider around our finances:

A. We are spending far more on staffing than we should be for a church our size. We have been spending about 75% of our revenue on staff salaries, which leaves us little to invest in outreach and missions. Nationally, churches our congregation size generally tend to allocate about 50% of giving on staff costs (although we would definitely be on the higher end of recommendations due to the cost of living in the Bay Area). (See: Feb. 2017 Business Managers Report to Session)

B. While the 75% figure was true in the recent past, the percentage currently spent on staff expenses is less because of the departures of the Pastors of Adult Discipleship, Paul Dugan and Congregational Care, Lilly Sterns/Mary Naegeli. We also moved Ryan and Faith Taylor to Worship & Arts and have not filled their positions in early childhood and youth.

C. In our current fiscal budget, any ministry budget that could be cut was cut. For example, the Global Missions budget was cut about 14 percent. (See Budgeted Financial Statements to Session: Feb. 2017 and Feb. 2018)

D. We have been fortunate to find other ways to generate revenue to help us meet our needs. Some of this extra income is applied to the general fund to meet budgeted expenses. Other revenue sources, like facilities rental and parking fees, are used for necessary repairs in these respective areas.

E. We are incredibly fortunate to have a strong balance sheet at present due to profits left over after the sale of the apartment building as we exited the PC(USA). This provides us with some cushion on our expenses and gives us opportunities to invest in the church. For example, Session chose to allocate a portion of these proceeds to the new patio project.

The financial situation is not part of Session’s consideration in joining with Menlo Church. The primary consideration for a partnership with Menlo is whether we can better fulfill our mission of reaching the unchurched together than we can separately. However, Session is taking into consideration necessary upgrades to bring the campus up to code and handle an expected increase in attendance after a potential merger. Many of these upgrades will need to be addressed in the near future regardless of a partnership with Menlo.

Is it true that the WCPres campus has maintenance costs of $20 million?

In 2012, the Buildings & Grounds Committee commissioned an architectural firm, Richard Avelar & Associates to assess our facilities. The study included at the time all buildings on campus, as well as the Deacon’s cottage and apartments. Recommended repairs, improvements and maintenance came to approximately $20M (however, with the recent sale of one of our apartment buildings and several important maintenance items that have been done on campus the past several years, this number will naturally decline). These repairs and upgrades have been broken into 3 periods for recommended completion with approximately $5 million of the work to be finished within 10 years of the report’s issuance (2022).

The campus has deferred maintenance on a number of items over the years simply because we haven’t had the money on hand to pay for proper repairs or upgrades. Consequently, some things have been “patched up” when really they should have been replaced. We are quickly approaching the end of the first period of recommended work in the Avelar study and we will soon need to make some large capital expenditures for necessary campus upgrades and repairs.

Is there a monetary cost to partnering with Menlo Church?

There is no “franchise fee” or upfront money that WCPres will have to pay to join Menlo Church. It is not like what we faced when we changed denominations and had to pay a dismissal fee. What must be considered though, are expenditures necessary to make our campus more user-friendly and safer including roof repairs, HVAC replacements, and parking lot repair. The Avelar Report didn’t consider improving our hospitality or making the campus user friendly, e.g. making the restrooms ADA compliant.

These expenditures will need to be addressed regardless of whether or not WCPres joins with Menlo Church.

How does Menlo Church manage campus facilities?

Each campus has a Campus Administrator who manages the campus. The Campus Administrators primary responsibilities are campus upkeep & maintenance and working with facilities specialists and vendors.

How does Menlo’s budget process work?

Menlo’s budget process is handled centrally at its offices in Menlo Park. Each campus, through the Campus Pastor and the Campus Administrator, proposes an individual campus budget, which is submitted to the central office. All funds are collected and dispersed through the central office.

How does Menlo Church encourage discipleship?

Leading people into a transforming relationship with Jesus is at the core of Menlo’s vision. There are three accessible ways to grow in discipleship at Menlo Church:

  1. Experiencing the weekly worship services. Worship services are viewed as the starting point of the church body to live a life with Jesus at the center.
  2. Joining a life group. Menlo Church values community and relationship building as a way to experience growth in a life with Jesus. A wide variety of life groups are offered to find belonging including those for men, women, singles and couples.
  3. Volunteering to serve. Menlo Church believes that everyone has a unique gift to serve. Whether in the church, the local community or the world, serving with compassion is an expression of faith in Jesus.
What programs are offered each week for children and students at Menlo Church?

Menlo Kids is the children’s ministries program for ages 3 months through 5th grade. Infants and toddlers are cared for in a secure and loving environment. Preschool and grade schoolers learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus through age appropriate activities, songs and Bible stories. Curriculum for the children’s programs is centrally developed for all campuses to implement.

Menlo’s middle and high school ministries programs are also held on Sundays at some campuses and at others mid-week. These meetings are a place for students to grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus. Menlo also encourages students to join a life group led by adult volunteers. Weekly life groups, formed by gender and grade, are a place for students to find support and encouragement.
What types of global missions programs does Menlo Church support?

Menlo Church is a strong supporter of missions and allocates ten percent of the annual budget to global and local mission work (last year that was about two million). Presently, Menlo partners with 31 global mission organizations serving in a variety of areas including Christian discipleship, church planting, education programs, pursuit of social justice and providing sustainable development.  Short-term mission trips are offered for many of these global partners. Menlo also supports the Kingdom work of 38 missionaries. In fact, Berna Bone, a missionary whose work with refugees is supported by WCPres, is supported by Menlo Church as well! Information on Menlo’s global mission partners and opportunities to serve can be found on its website.

What types of local missions opportunities are offered at Menlo Church?

Each Menlo campus partners with local missions organizations through financial support and volunteer hours.These local organizations focus on assisting vulnerable populations in the Bay Area in the areas of homelessness, education, social inequalities and human trafficking. Menlo also organizes several “Serve Your City” weekends each year where the congregation of each campus serves alongside community organizations. Information on Menlo’s local mission partners and opportunities to serve can be found on its website.

What types of volunteer opportunities are available at Menlo Church?

The ministries at Menlo Church depend on the service of dedicated volunteers. Each Menlo campus has volunteer opportunities available with the following ministries:  

  • Children’s Ministries
  • Student Ministries
  • Leading Life Groups
  • Missions
  • Worship & Technology
  • Care Ministries including Prayer Teams, Visiting Shut Ins and Stephen’s Ministry
  • Host Team including Greeting, Ushering & Serving Refreshments on Sundays

Campus staff will assist in identifying volunteer roles based on one’s interests and spiritual gifts. Training and support are provided. Additional information on volunteer and service opportunities can be found on Menlo’s website.

Just wondering when answers to the specific questions asked by members will start appearing on the FAQ page?

Thanks for asking about this. It’s a great question and one that we are working on. The challenge we’ve been having is that many of the questions people asked during the input sessions are still ones we’re unable to answer.The Due Diligence team has been working through the bigger picture questions before getting to some of the really specific ones. And, they have only met once this year. So, we’re constrained some by that pace, too.

As people ask you about this, please help us out by letting them know we’re working to answer those that we can answer as soon as possible. In fact, if there were any specific questions you have, please write them down and send them in. We’d love to know which ones. We are working off the list we have from the session, but maybe there are some that we’re missing as the most important ones for folks. Your insight is extremely helpful.

Would we be able to keep Morning Light?
Would we be able to keep MOPS? (Menlo does a different moms’ group.)
How would Menlo be involved in our Preschool?

We left all these questions above in a single block because the ultimate answer is similar. Menlo and WCPres have the same mission – reaching the unchurched with the Gospel. And because both churches have the same mission (and values), we are discussing whether we could further the mission more efficiently and effectively as partners than alone. Menlo and WCPres have agreed that if we partner, any WCPres program that is effectively achieving the mission will not be eliminated. That means it will take some time to assess their true effectiveness before any determination is made.

Why the rush to put so much emphasis on Menlo?

Session decided rather than forming a PNC right away, that it’s appropriate to fully explore if partnering with Menlo Church is the right path for us. It’s important to move quickly so we’re not living in a perpetual state of ambiguity – for both the congregation and the staff. So, they are trying to move as quickly as is responsible without sacrificing any of the due diligence efforts.  Once they are able to recommend a path to the congregation, we can take as much time as we need for people to be able to make an informed decision based on the details of how a partnership will work.

Session Update Archive
Next Steps
We ask you to engage in the process by:
  1. Praying for our church.
  2. Participating in opportunities to explore and share in the process.
  3. Submitting your comments and questions are welcomed and encouraged through email to transition@wcpres.org.