The Pastor’s Report

On Thursday, November 10, 2022, the Franklin United Methodist Church held its annual Church/Charge Conference. This meeting is the primary administrative meeting of the church. Among other things, it reviews and approves pastoral compensation, lay leadership and nominations, and is an opportunity for us to review what has been accomplished over the course of the last year. Reports are reviewed from the Personnel Committee, Resource Committee, and Pastor. Below is the report submitted by Pastor Jacob.

On Sunday, October 23, 2022, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of our facility at 82 West Central Street. This anniversary is an apt metaphor for the year.  Like our forebears who laid the original cornerstone for our church building 150 years ago, we have worked hard this year to re-establish and rebuild the church’s foundation as we navigate a post-COVID environment—an environment where the things we have done in the past simply do not have the efficacy they once had.

            There is much to mourn.  I think we have finally come to realize that the church will never be what it once was.  Our average weekly in-person worship attendance hovers around 30 (roughly 25 persons in the sanctuary and 5 via Google Meet). We have another 15 or so views on YouTube the week after a service is posted.  We struggle with participation. This year, with the volatility of the stock market, we will see a significant budget shortfall that we will not be able to assuage through realized investment gains.  These struggles are not new, though the intensity in which we are experiencing them seems much more intense.

There is much to mourn, but there are important things to celebrate.  The total number of in-person (in-the-sanctuary and via Google Meet) worship participants is (80) up by more than 30% over last year at this time (59).  The total number of individuals who have financially contributed to the church (63) is up by almost 20% over last year at this time (54). We welcomed some 80 children and their parents at Easter to hunt eggs after worship.  Our annual Trunk or Treat saw over 250 people in attendance, the biggest attendance yet.  Enrollment at Aprende Spanish Immersion, the preschool and daycare using our basement, is up this year. Meals on Wheels will deliver over 25,000 meals out of the vestry this year.  Our partnerships in the community are strong as we continue to facilitate relationships and work with the Franklin Interfaith Council, Franklin Downtown Partnership, and Dean Neighborhood Alliance.

            We have built a firm administrative foundation. In 2018, we adopted a streamlined administrative structure with three committees—Church Council, Personnel Committee, and Resource Committee.  This year, we adopted model agendas and regular business items for each committee.  This has helped keep each committee focused and on task.  It has also cut down the number of times each committee has had to meet to accomplish its work.  We also expanded our structure by adding the Committee on Ministry. The Committee on Ministry (CoM) plans, implements, and evaluates the ministry of the church aligning the ministry to the mission and vision of the church; empowering the congregation to be ministers for the sake of the gospel.  I have attached to my report a document detailing the current administrative structure, the role of each committee, their model agendas, and regular business.

            We have built a firm foundation for ministry.  We have a newly updated Safe Sanctuaries Policy, appointed a new Safe Sanctuaries Coordinator, and updated the process for running background checks on staff and volunteers working with at-risk persons.  The newly formed Committee on Ministry disseminated its first Ministry and Engagement Survey to help focus its work and determine our capacity for ministry.  The CoM is working hard to discern how we might engage all persons in the vital work of sharing the love God found in Jesus Christ through new, and sometimes familiar, ministries.

            We are building a firm foundation of resources.  The Resource Committee has taken on several facility improvements including the replacement of the church boiler and the stabilization of the stained glass window behind the organ.  We are doing better follow-ups during our annual stewardship campaign to reach as many potential pledging units as possible.  We have contracted with an architect to begin thinking about how to make our facility more accessible and usable for ministry in the era we now find ourselves.  We hope to launch a major capital campaign project next year which will, among other things, address the church’s deteriorating exterior (roof, trim, and siding), update the HVAC system, increase accessibility to all levels of the church including the basement and balcony which are currently inaccessible for those with mobility issues, and better utilize space for new ministry and community outreach.

            This past year, we have been very intentional about laying a foundation that will help sustain the church into the future.  The work has not been easy.  We’ve had to get our hands dirty and dig deep.  Some, no doubt, wish we would have started elsewhere, but a house cannot stand without a firm foundation.  And, a firm foundation has been laid, a foundation that will hopefully support the church for another 150 years. I can’t wait to see the way God’s Spirit will inspire us to build upon it in the years to come!