by Susan Kennedy
April 17, 2016
Are you getting the E-News and The Church on the Green Newsletter?
There are so many ways to keep up with what’s happening at First Church!
E-News: If you use email, sign up to receive a message each Thursday. Communications Director Deb Garrity compiles brief articles about upcoming events and a preview of the next Sunday’s service. Links to more information at the church website are included. Call the office (567-6287) or email firstname.lastname@example.org , or visit the e-news signup page to sign up.
Monthly Newsletter: Our newsletter, The Church on the Green, is sent digitally to the email list. You can request that printed copies be mailed to you by calling the office. Pick up a copy in the narthex, library, or Williams St. lobby. The new digital version is better than ever! The church website www.1stchurchlongmeadow.org includes sermons, photos, upcoming events, and a link to the newsletter.
Children’s Ministries Note Received.
Recently Rev. Terbush sent a message explaining to families the planned reduction in hours for the position of Director of Children’s Ministries. A mom who identifies herself as someone who has “attended sporadically” responded, thanking Nancy Yesu for the warm welcome she and her family had always received at First Church, and hoping that new approaches will be sought for children’s ministries.
Here is my response to her:
Thank you for your email. It is gratifying to know that Nancy has continued to welcome you when you and your family have taken part in First Church services and Sunday school. We all hope you will continue to make First Church an important part of your family life going forward. You are always welcome.
As you know, we made the decision 3 years ago to take a good look at all aspects of our church before searching for a new Senior Pastor. We realize that we are not the same church we were years ago and we must become nimble and flexible to adapt to a rapidly changing culture in which many families find less time for church participation. We have reorganized all our lay positions, are envisioning what staff we will need in the near future, and took a hard look at our finances. Our Treasurer corrected the calculation of how much we could withdraw from the endowment funds, which now requires that we reduce our budget by $ 30,000 this year and going forward. First Church is doing better than most churches at overall giving, but our members cannot make up that lost income. We have to be careful stewards of what resources we have. We have to plan a sustainable budget which supports the programs we have now, not the ones we had 10 years ago.
Although one of the transition goals of First Church has been to expand children’s ministries, the program has actually contracted. As recently as 2011 there were 75 children registered and about 40 attended per week. This year there are only 16 with attendance of 7. We cannot justify funding a 20 hour position for so few children, given all the other needs of the church and its mission work. As our Director of Music retires, the new Director of Music position will also be substantially reduced. We have to be realistic about our present and future financial situation, painful as that may be for church members and our faithful employees.
I hope you will continue to share ideas about what we can do to create a ministry for families that works for more people. I know of one local church that doesn’t even start Sunday school until soccer season ends, yet other churches have found ways to meet the needs of families in their community. There are no “one size fits all” answers. Please keep in touch, email any time, let us know what might work for you. We are all grateful for Nancy’s work and care for First Church children, and wish the situation were different.
Thank you for your concern for the future of ministry to families at First Church.
Susan Kennedy, Moderator