The following comments are those gathered during week one of seeking: honest questions for deeper faith & mission in the world. Included are the comments gathered during the Sunday Gathering on February 26th and on the Zoom Gathering on Monday February 27th. Also included are the responses offered via email and the webform. The purpose of this conversations was to describe the current situation of the congregation.
Comments offered by those participating via the online community are recorded in italics.
The slide image summary of the Task Group can be found at the bottom.
What are the challenges facing Sackville United Church?
Finances (x15 entries)
Our financial problem is the priority
Our income is changing
Deficit budgets are not sustainable in long term
With the cessation of the Lafford payments, the end of the Sharing the Table Grant, the gap for financial year 2024 will be $30 000.
What will do with less money coming from Lafford?
Lafford payments ending, resulting in loss of income; cost of living going up, which will
affect our bottom line as well – but costs for repairs etc. will stay the same or rise
I gather that we are challenged for funds to maintain our presence here and a minister.
I think the larger community, as everywhere, is challenged for funds to carry on connexions
among the people.
Filling seats, financial, keeping open.
My biggest challenge is being able to contribute to this church community. I tried to donate
online through Facebook but did not hear back as to whether my gift was received. That’s all.
Because of the demographics of the congregation - seems unlikely we will see an increase from individual contributions.
We have struggled to have meaningful conversations about levels of stewardship
Looking at expenses and what could be changed
Spending $ on too many things not helping those in need and there are many in need
Our faith energy is being misspent
Faith and energy is reduced because of fewer members in church
Maintenance of an older building (x3 entries)
Do we need a building the size of one we currently use?
Could we become a tenant rather than an owner?
What do we do with our building?
Building usage (more even sanctuary space to community)
Too much focus on our building
Cost of everything is going up - insurance
Find a balance between the income we have and projected expenses - salary and building (big expenses)
Perception of other people about our church
For some folks – traditional vs. non-traditional services (ours are quite non-traditional
compared with, say, the Presbyterian or Baptist churches – for some this is the attraction to
SUC; others might find it off-putting)
The challenge of how Christianity and religion are widely perceived in North American culture
Getting the good word out about ongoing initiatives
Declining membership (x 4 entries)
Aging congregation (X 5 entries)
Older community - seniors
Absence of those who were regular people who attended before covid
Replacing church members
Attracting new members
Degree of increase in #’s is too great for our ability to recruit
Visibility for folks not familiar with building, do they know we are here?
We need to figure out a way to have Pride/Trans flags
Aging population – how to attract congregants of all ages and keep them coming? Being
able to do so would bring fresh ideas into SUC about how we can continue to be
progressive as a church; also fresh ideas on how to support all ages as they navigate
various life challenges
Back to the larger community, I think we, like everywhere, are challenged by not having enough people to do the things that need doing.
Challenges attracting cultural diversity - black , indigenous, people of color
Shortage of younger people in leadership positions
Need more young people
Loss of sunday school
Lack of Sunday School and Youth Groups
No youth groups
Shortage of ages 12-30 for leadership development
One challenge I think we have is how best to extend a vibrant ministry for all ages and be
present with people in their life struggles
Keeping the children and youth here in SUC.
Understanding role of church
Adapting to change
Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees
Scope of perceptions of problems of SUC
A vision and mission that we all buy into and can articulate.
Assumptions are challenges: that all ‘are in the know’ regarding how we do things and the history of the church and the community and that all can afford to be a part of the community.
What are the challenges facing the larger community?
Healthcare and hospital (x 7 entries), food insecurity, housing,
Health care (family doctors, nurses, hospital)
Food insecurity (x 6 entries)
High use of foodbank
Increased use of foodbanks
Lack of Affordable Housing and homelessness(x 13 entries)
Affordable housing and food security in regard to seniors and low-income folk
Few community gatherings
Loss of community focal points
Face to face
Opportunities and activities age related
Town gown divide
Lack of newspaper communication
Poor communication - no local newspaper or radio
Will centralization to Moncton break our social fabric
Premier Higgs (personal opinion)
Financial needs/insecurity - basic needs are not being met by so many
Losing small business
Businesses closing - Mels, Liquidation Store, Cattail Ridge, Dorchester take-out..
Cost of living
Cost of living rise;challenges to feed your family healthy food
Cost of food
Inflation (x 4 entries)
Poverty (x 2 entries)
Increased inequality in income
Support service challenges
Transportation , child care services, needs
Lack of public transportation
Lack of childcare spaces
Lack of resources and skilled workers (and burnout of those workers)
Those without computers are sidelined re_ info and connections
Isolation and loneliness, hopelessness
Finding space for refugees
Space for refugees, asylum seekers
Covid 19 challenges still (no masking)
Few wear masks
Returning to normal
Travel (x 2 entries)
Travel - can’t count on schedules
What are the challenges for those participating online?
Lack of connectedness to members of the congregation
Recognition of how valuable it is - but also an awareness that it is not equitable/full participation.
Online is like a balcony experience for me. It is a different and unfamiliar perspective in
Maintaining a sense of connection and community for those not attending in person.
Ability to engage with community in ways that are equally lifegiving
Mobility - connection
Lack of community time “feelings”
Losing touch with everyone
Losing touch with people
Feeling part of on-site community
Connection to attendees at church
Connection to attendees at church
Disconnection risk - it’s easy to be passive, isolated
We are still suffering from covid - social disconnect
Not able to go to church
Not able to face to face, to speak
Hard to maintain connection
Ability to connect
Connection with others (not persona)
Not being there live to get a feel
Remembering the faces of the congregation.
Feeling a part of the larger whole.
Worshipping “alone” – greater isolation; risk of losing connection to the community
Observing the service rather than participating in it
Online can be an uneven experience: I am gratefully receiving but not totally present.
Connecting with online congregation, making them feel part of the service.
For those of us online it is difficult to feel as engaged as we are when physically interacting with the group.
As an online only participant, I often wish I were there to assist with the concerns of your
(13 viewers online - comments were made by 4 people.)
Online difficult for elderly - seniors being left behind
Seniors left behind tech-wise
Touch for seniors
Seniors not on-line
Technology itself presents challenges. (x 4 entries)
Ability to connect
Hard to focus
Some people can’t focus online
Not everyone has a computer
Equipment and use
I don’t always hear correctly.
Technical difficulties sometimes
The work of keeping us online.
Occasional technical errors
Tech glitches in sound
Various practical/technical A/V issues (volume wonky, video down)
What is happening in the larger world that contributes to and/or threatens a healthy world?
War (x 5 entries)
Russia Ukraine War (x 3 entries)
War in Ukraine - are we on the eve of WW III?
Leaders at odds
Tension between China and USA
Putin, Donald Trump and possibly Justin Trudeau
Poverty, systemic racism,sexism, ableism, and inequality
Racism, sexism, ableism
Rise of anti-LGBTQ2+ sentiments
Ongoing systemic racism
People not caring
Increased income inequality and a system too unregulated to address it
Rich / poor gap
Greed and empire (x 3 entries)
“Greedflation” due to corporate dominance going unchecked!
Short term economics are guiding decisions - change economics!!
We are in a period of pervasive societal regression.
Covid 19 (X 4 entries)
No masks where needed
Climate change (x 12 entries)
Man made disasters
Industry - near and more
In the larger world we are dealing with strange weather, pollution, a need to change from our
current use of oil, gas, coal, etc.
Health care - doctor and nurse shortage (x 5 entries)
Doctors, hospitals, schools
Repairing roads, giving medical care, ... There aren’t
enough young people to balance out us baby boomers.
Hunger,health, and mother earth
Mental health issues
Neurodiversity in a neurotypical world
Change is happening so quickly
Our perception/concept of safety (in the world) has changed.
One challenge might be how to process anxiety that some people feel about the future (when
comparing with the past).
Global migration and refugees (x 4 entries)
Ongoing refugee crises
No news of hope
Contributing to a healthy world:
Open sky powerhouse
Renewable energy research and development
dedicated people working for social justice
We deeply appreciate all the effort that is invested in keeping us up tp date. It is yet
another example of the significance of inclusion to SUC.
Thanks be to the Harm reduction vending machine and Ensemble Moncton!
Thanks be to independent music festivals such as SappyFest!
Thanks be to the Sackville Food Bank even as we work to address the root causes of food insecurity that threatens food sovereignty and life!
Thanks be to advocates for Universal Basic Income!
Thanks be to the curiosity of children seeking learning through play!
Thanks be to the fact that We’re still here!
Our current problems force us to imagine things differently
Community is changing - more diversity
If there would be no physical building to worship and we would be online ?
Possibility of sharing space with another church - should we approach those church communities facing similar challenges?
When you move into someone else’s space it is a delicate situation. Requires a lot of diplomacy and effort on everyone’s part.
Most successful mergers are when both parties sell and acquire something new.
We are in a post church culture - what does that mean ???
Understanding the role of church ???
This summary is by no means exhaustive - it is intended to serve as a means to entry into the next conversation.
The Task Group is always asking itself questions such as, What is missing? Whose voice or perspective is missing?
If you think we have missed a key idea or perspective, please be in contact with us through the Secretary, Rebecca Houtsma.