It is Time!
As it says in Ecclesiastes, “For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” As we begin to move from summer into fall, congregations often begin to review finances, look at recruiting volunteers for various tasks and scheduling events and fundraisers. This is a busy and exciting time, but it may also raise questions such as “Is it still possible to do things the way we have always done it?”
Across our regional council we are hearing concerns about declining membership and finances. We are also hearing about congregations who have weathered the pandemic, but are now wondering how on-line worship, inflation and aging buildings costs will impact their future. Others ask “What will happen if the other point in our pastoral charge decides to close? What will happen to the UCC presence in this area if several communities of faith disband?” Where will our community of faith be in the next 5 years? And just as coloured leaves mark the beginning of autumn, these questions tell us that we are in a season of discernment.
The Community of Faith profile is one of the tools available to help congregations ask good questions. All communities of faith are now expected to complete their profile and update it annually. (The worksheets can be found on the regional council website in the congregational support toolkit 2.) But it is not enough to just collect information and talk about it. The real purpose is to help you plan the next steps, and start to make changes. Waiting until there is a crisis because the boiler has broken and there are no funds to repair it, or the operating deficit means bills can’t be paid, or a few people are burning themselves out trying to manage all the tasks is not helpful. Deciding to just wait and see what happens, takes away the opportunity to explore options and make choices. The reality is that any change, such as collaborative ministry, amalgamation, redevelopment or disbanding, takes time if you want to do it well. Waiting until next year only means you will have less energy and fewer resources to make those changes.
Talking to congregations, it is clear that some need money while others need volunteers. Some need assistance with administration and bookkeeping, while others could use tech support. Some are located in the heart of their community while others have watched the community move away. And yet, while there has been change and loss, this does not need to be a picture of scarcity. The good news is that we have an abundance of resources distributed across our communities of faith. This is why the Congregational Support Commission is asking communities of faith to consider what would be possible if we work together. For example, how might we share administration, bookkeeping, ministry personnel, governance, outreach and more to make things more efficient? How might we work with our neighbours to ensure that the ministries we care about continue? What can we do now so that this season of opportunity does not pass us by?
Now is the time for every community of faith to ask: What are our strengths and gifts, our challenges and needs, and our ministry priorities? Where is God calling us? And how can our ministry continue in new ways for another season? Then like a great potluck dinner the contributions of many will become a feast for all.
For more information about collaborative ministry, amalgamation, redevelopment or disbanding, please see the toolkits on the website or reach out to your Minister for Congregational Support. Lynne Allin Lallin@united-church.ca for ARW and HF and John Neff JNeff@united-church.ca for WOW.
Did you remember?
- To file your UCC statistics this year?
- Pay your national assessment?
- File your CRA Charity Return?
- Send a copy of your annual report to your Regional Council Congregational Support Minister?
- Update your ChurchHub account contact information?
- Update your ChurchHub account CoF Roles to included your Lay Rep, Board/Council Chair etc with current contact information?
- Complete your annual Self-Assessment? (see Congregational Support Toolkit 7)
- Complete your Community of Faith Profile? (see Congregational Support Toolkit 2)
Pease ensure that these tasks have been completed for your pastoral charge and community of faith.