ANNUAL REPORT, 2017
Looking back over this year, it is apparent in so many ways all the talent we are blessed to have in this congregation to carry out all the "things" that need to be done--big and small. That being said, in thanks I would like to recognize our committee who has helped to implement much to make our worship services meaningful. They are: Amy Hickok, Martha Mills, Cindy Sears, Bill Smith, Dan Thomas and Marian Weeks. Also NOT to be underestimated is the faithfulness of this congregation--our individual trengths and spirituality.
We were blessed to have several of our members share what has been their faith journey as Pastor Mary interviewed them. They were: Joe and Wilda Marshall, James Marshall, and Linda Willis. They moved and inspired us with their life stories of overcoming obstacles, challenges and loss.
Now, here's a rundown of our year:
In February we had Boy Scout Sunday, always enjoyable to hear from the boys, and Souper Bowl Sunday. Bill always takes responsibility for the Souper Bowl collection and the decoration of the collection boxes. This year the congregation donated 75 items and collected $115. In addition, Chere Ware collected 100 items and $20 from her workplace--great job Chere!
In March, we again did "Ash Sunday". It seemed to reach more people than having it on the actual Wednesday. This year was paired with communion as well. The Lenten season's theme was Journey to Jerusalem, a continuation of last Advent's "Journey to Bethlehem". We resumed using our faith journey journals from 2016 and we followed the path to the Cross (literally) as each week stepping stones were added to the path and culminating at the Cross. For Palm Sunday we recycled palms left from last year, and the Sunday school made hand-traced palm fans to pass out as well. Holy Week included a cantata "Seven Last Words", which we performed with the Methodists at their church on Maundy Thursday. Again (now a tradition) there was the Cross Walk on Good Friday, again with the Methodists. It is always meaningful. Easter was very joyful and beautiful, the sanctuary transformed. We placed orders for Easter flowers, and then again in May for Memorial Day.
May 21st was Children's Day.
June 4th brought Pentecost--bigger, better, brighter, AND red-der even than last year! The cross had red rope lights, red balloons with streamers were outside along with more pinwheels. Red balloons also cascaded from the balcony. Red cloths covered the piano and baptismalfont. There were 12 red candles, the choir wore red beads, and the communion servers wore red stoles sewn by Martha. Refreshments were served in red cups and plates and included red velvet cookies.
Also in June, we celebrated the men of our church on Father's Day. Bill collected pictures of members' fathers and put them in a powerpoint presentation.
Last year the Summer months found us visiting other churches a lot for shared worship. This was enjoyable but in hindsight our offerings dropped. This year we pretty much stayed put. Through Pastor Mary's guidance may new things were tried--as in "thinking outside the box". Summer services were quite full this year! As VBS was held at the end of June, the annual ecumenical Trolley Park service/celebration was July 9th followed by a potluck picnic.
Later in the month Pastor Mary showed a video as part of the message titled "Parable of the Weeds and Good Seed" (based on Matt B), a visual
illustration incorporating scripture in the story of a farmer's life--how it's all about faith and patience.
In the minister's absence the following Sunday, Martha and Barbara prepared an overview of the history of some beloved hymns. We used several readers, and then sang these hymns. We received much good feedback.
Pastor Mary has made much effort to change up the traditional ways to serve communion this year--we have used different breads, different ways of serving, washing our hands in preparation. The idea is to think different and perhaps more deeply in the significance of this sacred ceremony. In August, Communion was the main focus of the day--we served one another and savored the elements.
The following week was all about the Vanderkamp experience. Since many of our fundraisers this year helped to provide campership money, it was so worth it. Also in August we saw another video of God's beautiful creation through nature-It's majesty, grandeur, and even power.
The Labor Day weekend service has most recently been called the "Un-Service (meaning unstructured) and was held indoors to save on all our usual technical glitches. We sat around our round tables sharing readings, scriptures and serving communion. It was intimate and meaningful.
September of course begins the kick-off to a new Sunday School year--the church is alive with more children.
October 1st Dan Thomas did the service in Pastor Mary's absence, This was an amusing and informative impersonation of Martin Luther, an inspiration as Reformation Sunday was approaching. If you were not here that week, how unfortunate for you!
World Communion Sunday was celebrated with rainbow bread (baked by Pat Mapley) and represented a wide range of interpretations--Noah/hope/promise/inclusiveness and was multicultural. The children's sermon was a video called "Chuck Does Church", and a powerpoint of crosses of the world played during communion.
In November on All Saints' Day we remembered Blanche Kehoskie, Cortland and Jane Ketchum, and Mary Tanner. Our new windows dedication was also in the service. This year we kept Veteran's Day simple with flags in the windows, recognizing all veterans present, and in another one of Bill's great powerpoints --veteran pictures submitted by their church family members. Very touching.
November 26th marked the "Greening of the Church" It began with a simple green and gold theme in the windows and a tree decorated minimally with white lights, green skirt, and gold ribbon and balls. Each week in Advent had a theme which was carried out in the liturgy, the children and adult sermons, and the music. The themes were Peace, Wisdom, Light, Love, and Joy. As Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday, we had 2 services that day--thus the 5 themes. Each Sunday a gift would appear under the tree and an item symbolizing the week's theme was inside. The kids' anticipation was as enjoyable for the adults! Gradually the tree decor multiplied and more lights appeared each week. On 12/10 we had a participatory service with adults and children interacting as the fellowship area was transformed into a marketplace in Bethlehem. One could visit the bakery, the carpenter, the scribe, the potter, and the manager where a Baby had been born! It was informative with fun and fellowship. Our Christmas Eve morning service featured a combined choir with children and adults singing "Away in a Manger/Happy Birthday to Jesus". That evening was our candlelight service. We closed the year with an ecumenical service led by Pastors Mary and George [from Sennett] in a dialog message "Anna and Simeon". There was good attendance considering inclement weather and single digit temps.
In review, again I see how much work was done--the tasks done by many hands and imaginations. It is gratifying to reflect on how many "step up" when needed. Additional credit should go to Pastor Mary for her creativity and planning. It made for a meaningful year.
God bless us all in the year ahead--