Pastors Message – September/October, 2017

Rev. Beth Frigard

Rev. Beth Frigard

Dear Friends,

Summer is quickly coming to a close. Where has the time gone? On September 12th I will have been your interim pastor for a year during which time I have enjoyed getting to know you and learning about your church. This year we were also steadily meeting the requirements set by the Presbytery regarding the search process. It may feel as though there are many hoops to jump through, but each serves an important purpose as you begin the search for a new pastor.

Several times I have mentioned the Mission Study which we are required to complete and have approved by Presbytery before we can elect a Pastor Nominating committee. So far, in fulfilling the requirement, we have completed a Ten Year Trends Chart, a comprehensive statistical study ranging from membership numbers to number of baptisms, to mission giving and pledging. We have also completed the required Three Year Financial Statement. Through letters and from the pulpit we have learned about the Church Life Cycle and seen where on this chart the church finds itself. We also have learned of Church Size Theory and where we believe the church to be. We are also working on a Review of the Geography and Demographics of the Big Flats and surrounding communities.

On a recent Sunday we focused on creating a new Mission Statement, the North Star, leading to where you hope to be in terms of your calling, your purpose and your responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ. We have learned about Family Systems Theory and have seen how the church is indeed a family, and how it might best handle anxiety and conflict among its members.

Another task is that we write a Narrative, the story of the church which gives us a comprehensive view of the churches history as we look ahead to its future. To help us to do this we need to create a Timeline. I have completed the years 1827- 1960, volunteers are working on subsequent decades. Some information is easier to obtain that others. Your help is is needed! For the 60’s 70’s 80’s 90’s the 2000’s we need your memories of the church, any issues that might have arisen, the style of ministry, or any highlights, anything that can cast a light on church life at that time. You can email me, or stop by the office. We also need to do an extensive review of our facilities.

Visioning and writing our Future Story is ongoing. I have distributed a sheet to help in this process. Copies can be found in the back of the church.

We cannot elect a Pastor Nominating Committee until our Mission Study has been approved by Presbytery, but we can prayerfully consider whom we might ask to serve. If there is someone you think should be on the PNC or if you would like to be considered, please let me know. A basic requirement has to do with time commitment since it could prove to be a long process, and it is essential that members be present at the meetings. I am hopeful that members would be spiritually grounded, patient, positive, thoughtful, open-minded, and good listeners. A sense of humor might also be helpful.

We are truly moving ahead in this process and we need all you to be willing and active participants. This past week a comprehensive Pastor Search Survey was distributed to the congregation. If you have not yet done so, please complete and return to the church. A stamped envelope has been provided.

And please join us on September 10, for Rally Day Sunday as we kick off a new church year. Bring friends and family. All are welcome! The Timeline will be on the wall of the Church House for you to study, reminisce over and add to. There will be a play area for the children. And, of course, cake and ice cream Sundaes will be served. Come, we will be waiting for you.

As the poet Rumi wrote,

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.”

Pastor Beth

Pastors Message – July/August, 2017

Pastors Message

Dear Friends,

Summer is upon us. Things have settled down after the somber yet busy Lenten season and the joyful celebration of Easter. We have just celebrated Pentecost, known as the birthday of the Church. The season of Pentecost invites members of a congregation to take a look at their church and to rededicate themselves to fulfilling its role which is to meet the spiritual needs of its people. This is true for us, but with an even greater sense of urgency and responsibility for we are now in the search process for a new settled Pastor.

These past months I have been learning a great deal about this church and about you, its members and friends. I know that you love this church and want it not just to survive, but to thrive. But you are also busy, and at times stressed, pulled in different directions. Some are dealing with health issues, their own or a loved one’s. Some are dealing with the demands of caring for small children, others are involved with their school age children’s activities. And then, of course, there may be stressful work outside of the home or financial worries, or concerns regarding the state of our nation and the world. It seems that the church just has to take a backseat. As for finding a new Pastor; some of you may feel it is just too much work or perhaps you are just uncomfortable living in limbo, in the “not yet” phase, and just want it to be over. But the reality is we need you, all of you, not just to complete the process, but to complete the process successfully, to ensure that the church will truly be a place of spiritual respite, comfort and support.

This is not a task to be undertaken by a few. We need all of you. This is an extremely important time in the life of this church and your presence, your wisdom and your help are needed. The old adage, “many hands make light work,” rings true here. If you would like to lend a hand let me or a member of Session know. And please know that just by showing up at Worship can be extremely helpful. This summer during Meditation we will be discussing such topics as what we expect the role of a pastor to be, what is the role of a congregation, and what are this church’s strengths, passions and resources, and how do we envision the church in 5 years’ time?

This is all information that can be used in our Mission Study, a study required by the Presbyterian Church (USA) before a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) can be can be elected and commissioned. This Study will give the committee an up to date and comprehensive picture of the church, and will include the history of the church, an analysis of its membership and its financial resources, the demographics of the area, and a review of the church’s goals and objectives for the next 5 -10 years. It will be a useful tool for the PNC to use in the search process and will also give a potential new Pastor a glimpse into the church’s strength, enthusiasm, and vision. It is good to keep in mind that not only do you select a Pastor, a Pastor selects you.

Questionnaires will soon be distributed to help us to better understand what is important to you. We are in the process of preparing a spreadsheet of statistical data for the past 10 years and soon we will begin a timeline of the church. There is still work to be done, but I am hopeful that with your help that by the end of September the Pastor Nominating Committee can begin its task. Please let us know if you would like to be part of the Mission Study Team.

While exploring the church’s long history with its successes and struggles, its conflicts and reconciliations, its courage and persistence, I found that even in difficult times the members did not give up hope. You have a very long legacy of strength, and of determination as people stepped up to help one another, to care for the community, and do what was needed to ensure that the church would be here for generations to come. That legacy is your legacy.

I pray that this will be an inspiring, exciting and hope-filled time for the church. Let us all work together that it may be so.

Grace and blessings on your path,
Pastor Beth