This year’s UCC Stewardship theme is “Because of You, Our Church Changes Lives.” And we liked that, but we shortened it a little for our campaign to “Changing Lives Together.” On November 5th, we’ll kick off a four-week campaign to raise $149, 000 in pledges and contributions. These funds, added to our endowment support and revenue from the use of the facility, will balance our projected expenditures for the 2024 fiscal year.
We are completing a very meaningful year at The Park Church – our first full year post-pandemic – when we began a number of new missional projects and accomplished a great deal of deferred maintenance. We also enhanced security equipment and upgraded facilities in the Sanctuary, Beecher Hall and the kitchen.
I know many of you join me in recognizing how effective Rev. Gary’s ministry has been in leading us to new heights during these past two and a half years. We are truly doing work that changes lives – not just the lives of our congregation members and friends – but people outside our church family as well. We are coming into a time when we are being fully used – every day and throughout the building. We are cleaning out parts of our building that haven’t been used for years and readying them to serve once again.
Each Sunday I greet new faces and am so glad when they come back, and I can make them a name tag, and then I see them join us for coffee hour, or begin to sing in the choir or play the bells or sign-up to be a liturgist. And there are also faithful friends of the church who come weekly on Tuesday for Game Night in the Rainbow Room or monthly on a Friday evening for dinner and discussion at Spirit Café or for a Meaningful Movie (with popcorn!).
When we were putting together this year’s stewardship materials (under the able leadership of Ann Bishop – kudos!) it was rewarding to pull together a list of over 20 non-profits and groups we support – with monetary donations, with offering space in our building, with co-sponsorship of activities, or those that we lead ourselves. With our extraordinary welcome and willingness to talk less and listen more, we are gaining ground. It is slow work and it is what we are meant to do.
We can do it because we have resources -- most importantly our congregation’s members and friends who come out on Sunday mornings (and lots of other times) to be among friends so they can feel their personal vision and capabilities expand. Together we can dream and accomplish what we cannot do alone. We also have the resource of our tremendous staff and our crazy, wonderful, at- times most frustrating building! I hope we can see our edifice for what it allows us to be and do and not just its deficits.
Each year we ask our members and friends to take a measure of how and what we are doing. So go ahead, consider what The Park Church means to you and how it has changed your life. What has it enabled you to do or to understand more fully? Has it engaged you creatively, intellectually? In what ways are you a different person than before you affiliated with Park?