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.
In reviewing the summaries provided, what is important in this information? From what has been shared, what excites you?
We are rich in resources
We have a lot of good to build upon, reasons to be hopeful as a church community.
Positives overpower complaints
Positives outweigh challenges
We’re more alike than different
We can learn from others
Our Leadership is a tremendous resource
Jennie/ Lloyd have done amazingly to keep us well through the pandemic.
Leadership is amazing
Lay leadership is extremely strong
Missing leadership in the under thirty population (renewal?)
Our Social Ministry (to both our church community and to the wider community) is important to our church family members and the wider community.
We feel welcomed and welcoming
Social opportunities are important to everyone in the congregation and many in the community. They are particularly important to people with few social connections, e.g., some seniors, some who have few friends and family.
When we come to church we still feel connected to the larger community, i.e., personal and world problems/joys are held up in the congregation's life
Our strength is in our people and our inclusive welcome. Our outreach/service/connections in the community.
Our commitment to community and love for each other and the broader community excites me.
We are working on it!
We are clarifying our vision, researching, and developing a plan to solve our problems
We are doing really well on including the perspectives of all the people in the congregation.
We have more positives than challenges; we just have to figure out how we want move forward.
(This process) gives us an outline of what to work towards.
We are willing to ask the hard questions.
Having a place to go with these hard topics.
Gives a positive feeling about the unrest.
We are willing to ask hard questions.
Place to discuss
Community in the church
Gives a positive feeling
Lots of great comments. I feel we’re all in this together & we’re all willing to work for change.
It is all connected isn’t it?
Excited - we are still committed to being a church community and opening the circle wide
Adapting to change in creative and hope filled ways for the future. Let’s dream and scheme and
hold on together.
I am amazed at how shared the perspectives are amongst many people
I like the speaker who spoke of releasing that which burdens us down, so that we can do what
we do well what we do.
"Without a vision, the people perish & quot; Jeremiah....
Focus on abundance, capacity, and what we do well
Growth mindset vs. Fixed mindset- abundance vs. scarcity- gratitude is also key to moving
Focus on abundance
Focus on what we have
Focus on our Abundance
Focus on our Capacity
Open to what we can do now
Focus on what we are doing well
What is important in these discussions?
History usually directs future
Are these challenges/positives to perennial questions of church? Is this normal for us?
I am afraid that nothing will change.
Create a balanced sustainable financial model
We are so blessed But financially challenged
Money is the root of all problems!!!
All the talk of finances focuses on scarcity - what about our abundances?
Finances - not anxious, but we need a plan to move towards "0" net income.
Financials are often a challenge for non-profits. There are a lot of organizations that ask for
contributions. Perhaps thinking outside the box as to how money is collected and spent will be
necessary. It is a very tough topic. As for the decrease in a… I'm hearing a lot of common acknowledgement of what we value/need to sustain our faith community and what is our common purpose. The challenge seems to be the obstacles to maintain a physical structure. I think some of our common desires for mission and ministry might be shared by many others in the surrounding community. At present, we have not explored what those commonalities are and if there is a common passion that might lead to a different kind of church within a shared facility??
If we weren’t here, who would take over the work and services we provide to the community?
One solution - Reallocate our givings - more to operating costs and less to ministry and mission - to meet our existing bottom line and maintain our current physical space?
If we allocated more funds to operations and less to mission - we could balance the books. But donating members to the church want to donate significant funds to ministry and may not be willing to reallocate their giving to give more to the bottom line and less to ministry.
But if we can’t meet the bottom line - we will be no longer be able to have a ministry or outreach.
The church building (and its impact on finances) is a big question -- do we keep it or release it? Does it support our mission and ministry more than it hampers it -- or vice versa?
We definitely need a permanent space for worship, offices, meetings and social events, but I am undecided whether we need to own or rent.
The challenge seems to be the obstacles to
maintain a physical structure. I think some of our common desires for mission and ministry
Tenant rather than owner
Yes, whether we continue as an owner or tenant is definitely a key question when it comes to
managing both our finances and our spiritual work in a healthy balance
Some sort of physical location is very important, but it need not be the building we are
presently in which is too expensive, as well as not actually necessary for much that we do…
Is one sole location necessary, or might there be several locations out there that we can call
home? Is home “everywhere”?
Could you share the physical space with another congregation? We have a very successful
pairing of two different faith groups here in Regina.
How much of our budget goes to the physical space?
How might the building be used by some other owner to further ideals and goals and real life
actions which are espoused by the United church? And might we, in turn, be a part of that?
I think it is important to have a physical space so we need to figure out ways that we can afford
such a space. Rentals, more fundraisers?!?
So NAME are you suggesting a robust exploration of possible partnerships? I would tend to
We use the worship space and kitchenette and washrooms and office and little more is needed. Do we need a “permanent” house? Could we survive if we changed even more?
Space determines how we build community, eg/ no kitchen - no dinners.
Could we use the kitchen and space at the Maritime Conference Center to put on community dinners?
“Home churches” would also require homes with space to meet, and could also create exclusions due to wealth disparities.
Articulate our vision and purpose / our mission and ministry
Can we renew a clear direction for our ministry, what is most important and how we support
What shared values would assist in determining what the future holds?
How to articulate why we go to church
Articulate - here is what the United Church is.
I am hearing a lot of common acknowledgement of what we value/need to sustain our faith
community and what is our common purpose.
The financials are super-important. ButnI see that most appear to be looking beyond to what
we are even though we do not have a lot of money!
What concerns me is finding consensus on a vision for moving forward. Can we agree on what is essential and what can be left behind?
What are our capacities now and what do we need to let go of?
In the past the dinners we put on helped with financing, developed relationships between church members through working together, brought the wider community together, and we could share who we are with the wider community
Not involved in funerals - sandwiches etc…
Important- we are so blessed - how can we share what we have?
Letting others know that we are here and what we are
Reaching out to others - other religions
What does the community expect of us?
Team building/ community building events.
The young ones in our church family and wider community
Next generation - who is learning from them for people to come
Getting younger people to take over or carry on
It is important to support the young ones in our congregation and community - even if they aren’t many at this point
How do we help create leaders for the next generation?
Next generation / getting the word out.
Missing leadership in the under thirty population (renewal?)
The elders in our church family and wider community
It is important to support the growing needs of the many elders in our church family who took care of us, lead, and supported us - and who now need our support.
Remember, all this community building takes person power! Most in our congregation are
already overextended! Or too old to take on these things with gusto!
Ralph Milton has a wonderful book about being the best congregation to tap into and unleash
the skills and talents of the 'seniors' among us. Maybe we need to focus there...
The vulnerable ones in our church family and wider community
We have vulnerable members of the community in our congregation. It is important to continue to support them.
Affordable housing is in great need by low income people, some of whom are members of our congregation.
The online members of our church family
Technology has become vital to our congregation's life. We are blessed with techies (Lloyd, Jennie, & Rowan) but this is can't be maintained. This challenge can also be an asset - e.g., we are one of two sites in Sackville open to the public with good audio-visual technology able to use video conferencing.
One of the challenges of being in the on-line congregation seems to be that those in person don't us a microphone in order to include us in the conversation
Our responsibility to our planet
Everything we do must be seen with a climate change lens to reduce greenhouse gasses.
What information is missing and needed?
It's always hard to see what's missing. We have blind spots. But I think it's important to try to identify them.
Specific on our financials and a five year financial forecast
Need specific information on current financials - income/expenditures and assets(investments) with some forecasting out five years.
Perspective of other churches - what are they doing to meet similar challenges?
1. Need more information on what other UC congregations are doing who might be in a similar situation as SUC is.
Getting inspired by other churches - Moncton and Amherst
What are other churches doing?
Perspective and input from wider community - those who use our building, community leaders, others
We need to work at seeking out the perspectives of others who are in the community, but are not represented in the congregation, e.g., Indigenous people, more BIPOC people.
I wonder about inviting input from our wider community? Organizations who use our building, community leaders, etc. Non-members who can comment on what the presence of our church means in the Sackville community -- positive experiences and negative experiences. What they see from the outside looking in. And it might also be helpful to show our summaries to someone or a group who has experience with this whole process --- a UCC facilitator or group -- and have them comment on what we might have left out. Might an impartial outside observer have some wise words to share?
Perspective of others not connected to our community.
It is important to keep searching for this information.
We are missing those with less privilege than us.
Eg. poor, no transportation, “recipients” of charity, rather than “donors” to charity
I also want to ask how to include the perspectives of those who feel excluded? A conundrum.
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.