Anne Gajerski-Cawley welcomed people to the event. Opening worship consisted of a reading from 1
Corinthians 12 about the parts of the body and their concern one for the other. With Lawrence Pushee at the piano the group
prayed and sang #400 and #402 from Voices
Sue Howard said that as a Pentecost people, we are Martha Stewart’s
worst nightmare; we are not a tidy people, but are ones who seek to break
out. Sue outlined the shape of the day
and asked people to think about questions as they hear from the five
of success stories
Five “success” stories were shared with the group, and opportunity was
given for people to ask questions or make comments.
Emmanuel-Howard Park United Church –
Toronto West Presbytery: Cheri DiNovo began by talking
about one of the ideas that came from the planning group, i.e. there could be a
group of “circuit riders” who could go from congregation to congregation telling
the good news stories that are happening within the church. She then proceeded to tell the story of
revitalization within her congregation, and related it to her
recently-completed doctoral thesis.
At Emmanuel-Howard Park they asked,
“What is United Church evangelism in
our church?” The answer was that it’s
inclusivity, hospitality. The Bible
calls us to open our doors and welcome all people. How do we do that? These days evangelism goes from God to the
marginalized to the church.
The United Church of Canada has become the object of evangelism, not
the subject. Emmanuel-Howard
Park church holds 800
people, but when Cheri arrived there were about 50 in the services; not many
were in the church school; hair was gray; and the church survived on rentals
and trust funds. Cheri was hired as an
outreach minister with the plan to reach out or close. They asked first whether they had a good
nursery, and they didn’t. They looked at
small group activities and asked, “What are the needs of the community not
being addressed?” They started a single
mothers’ brunch; a God-talk group Bible study, changed the liturgy to meet the
needs of the neighborhood. With many
Roman Catholics in the area, they have a high liturgy because of their context
with so many Catholics. A Polish prayer
group will be started soon, and there are multi-cultural meals.
They started a poor service which now gets 60-100 during the high
holidays. Poor people sit on
committees. The Sunday evening service
doesn’t use a lot of written material or music from books because some people
can’t read or their eyes aren’t great in the evening. They use call and response and Taize
material. Now the church has 50 children in the church school and 100 in the
service; 30-50 attend the evening service
regularly. Givings have gone up 60
How did you advertise the second service?
There were banners and free community supper
Sunday nights. They give tickets for
community suppers rather than cash to panhandlers. The evening service people look after the
worship now and leadership has emerged.
Cheri said that when she discovered the
United Church, “I wondered why
everyone doesn't know about this place”.
When asked about resistance to change, Cheri said that if the church
wants to die, then you make it happen around them. Look to the community. People in shirts and ties are few at the
moment, though there’s a group in their 20s and 30s who are getting more
Cheri has sat on community groups who might be natural allies of the United Church. It was a good way of getting to know the
community and what the needs are.
Congregants were the ones who knocked on doors.
How do we overcome fear and change in patterns in people’s lives?
Look at the community and see what the
community looks like; involve those people.
We shouldn’t be putting limits on the level of our hospitality, and see
how we can minister to people. How do we
minister to people who comes from other groups like Greek Orthodox or
Portuguese? There are huge groups who
are open to spirituality.
Wesley and Temperanceville – York Presbytery:
Vicki Cousins described two very different
congregations; both have a rural sense about them; both are debt-free and both
had an older male ministry for the previous 17 years. Average attendance was 35 at Wesley when she
arrived two years ago; now there are 70 attending; Temperanceville went from 23
to 40 in the last two years. We look at
numbers not for the sake of numbers, but for what it can tell us, she said.
The church school uses Whole People and the liturgical year, e.g.
color. There’s a visual arts team in
both congregations now that are warming up the sanctuaries.
Vicki visited everyone she could get to in the first month, getting to
know the people. This helped the people
to get to know her too so it brought trust and respect in worship. When she initiated change, the people were
generally open with some trepidation.
People can see that she is dedicated to her faith and taking care of
herself and being honest about who she is.
She gathers “successful” people who are supportive, more experienced
than herself. She described herself as
being green in years of ministry, but not in life, and that helps in worship
with her past experiences. Some things
had to change, she said, e.g. a communion liturgy from 1965 was being
used. Children read scripture, others
use gifts in drama, re-writing stories.
Honoring the traditions while learning to embrace the new is a huge
Addressing conflict is important, i.e. not allowing things to lie. Projects to get excitement flowing included a
talent night; $800 in $10 bills was given out to members of the congregation,
and when the money was returned, $9,000 came in. The anniversary services were a time to
celebrate. They had visioning days at
each of the congregations and involved Presbytery people. A photo directory was produced with both
congregations in one book. There’s a
woman’s spirituality group now that involves both women from the congregations
and the community.
A men’s group is about to begin, and they are looking for a youth
leader. Six were confirmed last year and
12 this year. They have used newsletters and flyers in wider mailings. Temperanceville has a web site. An administrative assistant has been hired
for 10 hours a week to do bulletins and phone calls. People in the congregation are key because of
their dedication to their churches and growth.
Parking is a challenge, the manse is falling apart; the buildings are
120 years old. Closing one congregation
for a special service doesn’t work because the numbers dropped right off. A Christmas Eve service was instituted and
200 showed up.
Most of the
visiting is still done by the minister.
The church school at Wesley is 25 and Temperanceville a little
less. There is no proper nursery because
of space problems. Some of the new
people moving into the area church shop, and some have said they like the
smaller church where they are known. The
web site was created by a person in the congregation.
What happens when the churches are full?
Both are talking about parking problems and
possible expansion. The churches are concerned that she’ll just up and leave. Quite a few are coming from the Catholic
tradition and some people from the wider community who are exploring their
North Bramalea – Dufferin and
Norm Greene said that Brampton has over 300,000
people, and their congregation has one lawyer, no doctor, but lots of truck
drivers and school teachers. Norm
arrived in 1983 and the building was constructed in 1987. The people who attend came from other United
Churches, or were people who had fallen away from the church, but arrived and
stayed. He described a number of
individuals: A retired person arrived feeling broken because of death and a
marriage break up. One person spent much
of his life in front of the television.
Another wanted stability within her life. One person has never grown up but has a spiritual
hunger. These are the people the church
He described a spirituality hungry people who are looking for good news
and transformation in Christ. Five to 10
people changing makes a change in the congregation, Norm said. The congregation is very heavily
Christocentric in all its ways.
The worship service has about 40 percent music, and all of it’s done on
overheads. They sing “We are One” at
every service. The songs are chosen to
link “to” God not to be “about” God.
They almost never use the organ, but have a variety of musical talents
and instruments. The choir is there and
a couple of voices are miked because of the kind of music they do.
They use symbols like rocks and velveteen to help remind people during
the week of what they heard on Sunday.
In preparing for worship they ask, “What is the felt need of the
congregation and what is the desired outcome? What is the key word or image you
want to offer to people?”
The mission of the congregation is to receive and live the life of
Christ. There are about 60 small groups, e.g. a book group, men’s groups, Alpha
studies. The people of Brampton matter to God,
Norm said, so they matter to us. One on
one talking with people is the best method of growth, but they also use
occasional advertising or handing out tickets.
They have a lot of people up front during worship to allow for a
variety of expression of faith. People
tell their stories during worship. They are trying to build the governance structure around the spiritual
gifts people have. In stewardship they
use a discipleship growth mentality. We
want you to grow as a disciple of Christ.
As a result of the program they had a 28-38 percent increase in envelope
givings. They added a second service a
couple of years ago, and have had a five percent increase in attendance.
emphasized small groups for three or four years; some were already there, but
others are new. The intention is to
encourage people to be in the groups.
Some of the groups are only social, but they hope to have them move to
consider service, prayer, study and spiritual life in all of their groups.
Alpha is a 13 week program with lectures on video followed by study
groups. They’ve had outreach days to the community, e.g. working with the
homeless, visiting extended care
Vince Alfano took approximately fifteen minutes to discuss how to use
demographics in our work to foster real growth in the Church. He began with some thought-provoking
statistics. For instance, from 1947-1960,
the biggest selling items in North America were baby products. Today,
the fastest growing pastimes are birdwatching, golfing, and gardening. Every 90 seconds in Canada
someone is turning 50. These statistics
clearly illustrate the ‘graying’ of our population. Vince distributed a chart visually
representing the ‘baby boom’ generation, the huge demographic bulge that began
in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. The leading edge of these boomers are now
turning 55 this year.
Vince cited two books: Boom, Bust & Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift
by David Foot and The Pig and the Python: How to Prosper from the Aging Baby Boom
by David Cork as great resources for church growth.
Vince then alluded to a comment made by Allan
Parker from the first visioning meeting where he said that we are not even reaching
our ‘main market group’. These folks are
not necessarily falling away but are perhaps moving away.
Vince quoted some passages from Boom, Bust & Echo. The quotes focused on three main points:
the movement of baby boomers from urban centres
the need for specialty stores where staff know the names of clientele
highly skilled professional managers will be available for non-profit
this is when you go back to church, after the corporate world –
talent will now be available for free; there will likely be improved
fundraising efforts due to increased levels of disposable income among aging
What does this mean for the future of The
United Church of Canada? Vince quoted
this to illustrate the impending lifestyle changes that will be taking place within
the context of the wider church.
Vince then presented a case study, Georgian
Villas, where 6000 new people will be introduced into a new community complete
with golf course, town centre, huge marina, townhouses, near Sarawak, just north of Owen Sound. Sarawak United Church,
however, is ‘kitty corner’ to this new development. The sales centre is four times the size of the
church. This is an interesting dilemma that the church faces in light of the
dramatic increase in population in the area.
Large groups of folks are moving into these
communities, bringing with them an idealistic side to them. However, when they
arrive in Sarawak, they will find a small church in a three point charge with a
different worship style than what they may be used to. There are myriad rural churches that will be
near these burgeoning communities where potentially thousands of people are
moving in. We should not be satisfied
with a few dozen folks showing up in light of the numbers that are moving in. Other
denominations are also moving in and doing a better job at meeting the needs of
the community. We must be sensitive to
this kind of opportunity in our church development programs. We must be clear about a strategy. TUCC has put together resources for a workshop
on demographics. This will be part of the mission strategy process including
Cheri asked Vince for his comments on the
trend of moving back into urban
centres. Vince referred to this growing trend
as manhattanization. He cited the example of Metropolitan United
where TUCC has co-operated with them in an outreach program for marginalized
urban communities. Allan Parker expressed
his plans to move back to the urban centre after a few years in a rural
area. This appears to be a significant
trend as well, whereby those who took an earlier retirement moved out of the
urban centres but are now 10 years older, and are back now seeking better
health care, easier transportation, etc.
John Lee asked how such demographic
learnings would influence discussions on multiculturalism and encouraging
ethnic groups to participate within the church. At times, we tend to focus too much on target
groups separately from each other and sometimes this focus generates conflict
and confusion. Paul Browning mentioned
that there are three different worship services for three different groups of folks at his church. MJ Perry
said that part of the problem is that we are not reaching out or focusing
enough on everyone.