Dear Members of Eastminster,
I trust this letter finds you well and looking forward to the Advent and Christmas Seasons.
I write to alert you to an important Congregational Meeting this Sunday at 11:15 in the Church sanctuary. This will be the first in-person congregational meeting since before COVID arrived. We do thank the Church Council for serving on behalf of the congregation over the past 18 months.
Several important items are coming up that need your reflection and associated documents will be on our web site under “Congregational Meeting Documents” on the “Welcome”/front page.
Perhaps most impactful is a draft agreement between St. Matthew’s United Church and Eastminster that will see the two congregations enter into a collaborative ministry. St. Matthew’s is in a difficult position financially and has not been able to attract a part-time minister for the past several years. The idea involves our ministry team helping St. Matthew’s with services and pastoral care initially. A Committee has been established to draw other elements of collaborative staffing into the mix so that in the future we have a one staff – two churches model of ministry. From the draft agreement you will notice that this would have us alter several areas of Eastminster’s ministry. Among them would be sharing approximately 20% of our ministry personnel with St. Matthew’s, a change in our worship time to 11:00 am to allow the minister to preach at St. Matthew’s at 9:30 am, and a sharing in pastoral care ministry.
What’s in it for Eastminster? I think we should look at this as a form of mission to our wider community and believe that it will form a model that other congregations may get involved in as we think of a broad United Church ministry to the Belleville area in the future. Additionally, if approved, St. Matthew’s would contribute financially to our ministry and staffing budget which, as you will see, is something we need.
Second, we will be asked to approve a budget for 2022. This too is significant because it is a budget with a large projected deficit. Our Council chair will include in the report several ideas about how we may address and seek to minimise the deficit over the course of the year. Apparently, our offerings are now running at about 57% of what they were pre-COVID and the government relief programmes that were helping us out are no longer available. We are thankful, however, that up to this point, with government support and the generous continued support of faithful members, we did not have a deficit for 2020 and that it is small for 2021.
Third, an application for a Legacy grant is also on the website for your perusal. The grant is to purchase equipment necessary to allow us to stream our Sunday services live. Streaming our Services would be a significant help to staff who are working extra on videos and editing during the week and would also be a great way to get our Services out to retirement communities and nursing homes, as well as others who continue to isolate at home. It would effectively replace our former DVD ministry with services available on line.
These items bring us a lot to grapple with. I hope that you will read the documents ahead of the meeting and join the discussion of the work, ministry and mission of Eastminster.
Blessings and best wishes,