Summer 2017 Update
UPDATE FROM THE EXECUTIVE PASTOR
No, it’s not quite summer yet, but as the school year winds down so does the program year here at Aldersgate. I thought I would get this update out before too many of you slip away for the summer.
If you were here for Pentecost, you got to celebrate the confirmation of 32 youth into the faith. Confirmation is one of the most significant ministries we offer our congregation and the wider community. Using a curriculum I wrote, Aldersgate has confirmed 500 youth since 2005. This year’s class is the first roster of youth whom I baptized as babies–a highlight of my time at Aldersgate. Elaine Woods supervised the confirmation program this year and did a fantastic job working with our teachers Janet and Mark Laisch, Sarah Lynn Mertins, and Deborah Jones.
Speaking of 2005 and data points, Aldersgate has received 360 new members since 2005 and we have buried 200 members (this doesn’t include the funerals–probably as many–we do for people in the wider community) while mentoring a half dozen candidates into the ordination process. In addition, giving has increased every year since 2005 while worship has remained stable during this time, with more people worshiping but with less frequency. The average attender worships every other week. Worship is averaging 603 per week so far during the second quarter; it averaged 539 during the same quarter last year.
This larger picture of New Members – Deaths – Giving – Attendance Trends suggests that Aldersgate has weathered well the “Death Tsunami” suffered in most mainline congregations and denominations.
During Eastertide, Dennis mirrored the dialogical character of the Gospels’ resurrection stories with dialogue sermons with staff and pastors. The feedback we received in a survey was split 50/50 with passionate opinions in the pro and the con categories. Interestingly–and food for future reflection–those who enjoyed the dialogues the most were visitors on Easter or infrequent attenders; in other words, something about the conversational character worked for them in a way a traditional sermon does not.
Also during Eastertide, Karla worked with a Staff-Parish search team led by Sarah Lynn Mertins and Travis Gianchetta to interview candidates for the Youth Director position. They identified their top candidate at the end of May, and she accepted Aldersgate’s offer. We look forward to Ahnna Lise Stevens-Jennings being with us on June 18 to meet the church and on August 1 to join our team.
Starting at the end of the June we send off two mission teams of youth and adults to White Mountain Apache Reservation and Guatemala. This continues our long and impactful partnership with Highland Support Project. The $20,000 raised during Lent will go towards the teams’ projects this summer.
Also this June, thanks to Steve Guback’s generosity, we will begin the renovation of Founders Hall. This project should be complete by Labor Day and if funds are available from Steve’s gift upon completion we will renovate the Founders Kitchen too.
Giving for the first two months of this quarter totaled $239,000 to the Operating Budget. Giving for the second quarter of 2016 totaled $333,000 and $339,000 for 2015. Thus, Aldersgate in 2017 is tracking along with previous years’ receipts. HOWEVER, our expenses in 2017 will be, by year’s end, significantly higher.
Just tracking with previous years will not be enough to end the year strong. This means your generosity over the summer months is critical to our fruitfulness, especially as we know five of our most generous families are being relocated this summer.
Speaking of our most generous families, I thought this snapshot of giving to mission and ministry by worship service would be interesting to you all. Here are the top 64 Giving Units based on the service they most regularly attend:
• Saturday Service: 7 units have contributed $75,000 in 2016-2017
• 8:30 Service: 13 units have contributed $269,000 in 2016-2017
• 9:45 Service: 26 units have contributed $435,000 in 2016-2017
• 11:15 Service: 18 units have contributed $250,000 in 2016-2017
Our 9:45 service accounts for the most givers and the most given among our top givers.
This May our lay leader, Leah Matthews conducted two listening sessions to discuss our council’s proposed change to our governance structure. About a dozen people participated; we also received feedback online from about a dozen members.
One of the motivations behind this proposal is to align Aldersgate’s leadership with the type of church Aldersgate has become.
As Susan Beaumont notes in her work “Beyond ‘Corporate’: New Insights on Larger Churches,” Aldersgate, because of its size and the size of its budget, is what church experts call a “Professional Church.”
“In the professional church, staff members take over many of the functions previously provided by volunteers. The staff is increasingly moving away from a generalist orientation toward a specialist orientation. A streamlined executive leadership team of staff and lay leaders coordinates and guides the church’s work- rather than a hierarchy of often redundant committees. An administrator or executive pastor may be appointed in this size congregation to relieve the senior pastor from having to manage the church’s day-to-day financial, personnel, building maintenance, and information technology needs.
“In the professional congregation, the governing board must trust the daily management of the church to the staff team. Working with the pastor on vision articulation, the council’s primary task is to maintain accountability and prevent vision drift. The council spends less time on the daily fiduciary work of the congregation and more time on strategic leadership.”
We will vote on this proposed model for governance at a charge conference this Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.