It’s June. The sun has finally decided to come out! The church year is winding down, and so is my year as President of the congregation. During the Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 2, we say goodbye and heartfelt thanks to Prudential Committee, Deacon, and ministry committee leaders whose terms are ending, we elect and welcome our new leaders, including our new church President, Cheryl Bartholomew.
We had many accomplishments in a year marked by challenges, transitions, and increased growth. In June, we welcomed and oriented Nancy Forsstrom, our new Church Administrator. We welcomed back the congregation in September, and celebrated the completion of our building renovations, made possible through your generous Capital Campaign contributions. Our parking lot was repaved; new, brighter lights and handrails were installed; the clock and Paul Revere bell were repaired; the Benefit Street entrance was renovated; security throughout our buildings was improved; and we began to improve our technology infrastructure.
We hosted Rev. Thandeka, who encouraged us to “Love Beyond Belief.” Her observations were a catalyst for changes in our worship services and our Prudential Committee and other committee meetings, and were the genesis behind the launch next fall of affinity groups called Soul Circles.
We hosted a successful Partner Church weekend. Our Parish Supper program was re-branded and relaunched, and events were well attended. We hosted a family of four in our newly dedicated sanctuary space. We partnered with the Providence Athenaeum to host some of their larger events and expose their members to our wonderful Meeting House. Through our strong social justice programs, we increased our community partnerships, strengthened our alliances, and provided a variety of opportunities for advocacy and justice work for all ages.
Our Sunday services are now live-streamed on Facebook. We have a new digital photo directory. The church website was revised and revitalized and now serves as the primary information center for members, friends, guests, and anyone seeking a new church. We implemented an electronic payment system for online giving, and we saw more than a $40,000 increase in pledge commitments due to one of our most successful Commitment Drives.
We are growing – members and children – and our growth posed and will continue to pose challenges to staff, governance, program, and volunteer structures. Kevin Carson joined our staff in January for a six-month period to increase our capacity to satisfy our growing pastoral care needs. We completed a staffing assessment and, with the approval of our FY20 budget, we are funding three of its recommendations: hiring a part-time pastoral care minister, upgrading our technology infrastructure, and conducting a congregation giving assessment.
We started several initiatives that will continue in the new church year. They include hosting Prudential Committee retreats, planning for our 300th anniversary and the return of General Assembly to Providence in June 2020, implementing recommendations for a new sound system, hosting facilitated congregational conversations and strategic planning sessions, and taking steps toward revising our mission and vision statements.
As my presidency concludes, so will the monthly newsletter and the Meeting House Times, as we implement new ways to inform you about everything that is happening around our busy church.
I have had an informative and rewarding presidency. I had opportunities to meet you, listen to your concerns, feedback, and ideas, and work with Liz, the staff, the Prudential Committee, and ministry committees to make positive differences in the way you experience everything our wonderful church and church community have to offer.
It has been a pleasure to serve as your President this church year. Thank you.
President, Prudential Committee