Notice of Christ’s
Agenda for the congregational meeting:
· Annual church reports:
o Report of the Trustees
o Vote on church leadership
o Vote on pastoral compensation
o Vote on membership roll action
· Congregational discussion and vote on future direction for the church
o See included sheets for more information
· News from the District Superintendent about our UM connection and priorities
The meeting will be in person and the Board of Christ’s Church hopes that every member and friend will try to attend. COVID safety protocols will be followed.* Zoom links will also be used.
Please contact the church office if you need a ride or to make arrangements for your input if you cannot participate, firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 838-1724.
*Masks required regardless of vaccination status. The space
will be set up for physical distancing and well ventilated. No food will be
served. Bottled water will be available. You are welcome to bring a bag lunch
for yourself. The meeting may last until 2 p.m.
October 4, 2021
Dear Members and Friends of Christ’s Church,
In the 1970’s there was a Presbyterian church in Independence and a United Methodist church in Monmouth. They were both small churches and for many years had shared a pastor. God sent a shared dream, “Would we be stronger if we joined together? What could we do in our community if we shared a ministry?” Calvary Presbyterian and Wesley United Methodist became Christ’s Church and located in Monmouth near the college campus to better minister to the students and staff there.
They went from two part-time churches to one full-time church and for many years the congregation flourished. There were families with children in Sunday School and VBS and going off to camps. There was a youth group, confirmation classes and members called to ordained ministry. There were adult education classes and small groups. There was support in the budget for the campus ministry and the food bank. There were mission trips and fundraising dinners. There were baptisms and weddings. There was worship with choirs and bells and dance.
Years passed, as years do. The parents of the young children grew older, the children graduated and moved away. The number gathered for worship grew smaller, the funerals outnumbered the weddings and baptisms. Christ’s Church moved from a full-time pastor to a part-time pastor, the staff and the leadership team grew smaller.
Forty-three years after the folks of Calvary Presbyterian and Wesley UMC discerned and decided to follow the dream which birthed Christ’s Church, we have come to another decision point. The continued decline in our membership and leadership has been compounded by the circumstances of the pandemic. For the past several months, the Board of Christ’s Church has explored with our two denominations what might be possible from here. We have asked for your input and prayers as we seek to discern God’s dream for us now.
At the congregational meeting on Sunday, October 17th the Board will ask the members and friends of Christ’s Church whether or not we can commit to a new dream for Christ’s Church. There are various doors which are open at this time for us, but to explore where they lead will take some energy on the part of all of us, an openness to new relationships and new structures, and a commitment to fulfill our membership vows of giving our time, talents, and resources to the life of the congregation. Please see the included information sheet for more details about this choice. This letter is coming to you at this time so that you can consider, pray, and seek guidance about your answer to this question.
We affirm with faith that God is in control of our future, that God has promised never to abandon us but rather that God has promised to look after our welfare and to give us a future with hope (Jeremiah 29:11). We also acknowledge that we do not know what the future will look like, that we do not have an eagle’s eye view of the path before us. The life of faith is one in which we follow God’s lead step-by-step in trust, knowing that the end is resurrection, but the way and the nature of that resurrection is often hidden from us.
We look forward to gathering on Sunday, October 17th to affirm our connection with each other in the Body of Christ and to discern together our future. We hope you will make every effort to be present. COVID safety protocols will be followed. Contact the church office if you need a ride or to make arrangements for your input if you cannot be present.
The vote on October 17th will be a simple yes or no:
· Yes, I want us to explore these possibilities* and I commit to supporting this exploration with my time, talents and resources, OR
· No, I am not able to support this exploration of possibilities with my time, talents and resources
The vote will be taken by anonymous, written ballot.
Again, we hope that each member or friend of Christ’s Church will make every effort to be present for this important conversation and vote. Please contact the church office if you need a ride or to make arrangements for your input if you cannot be present.
Thank you for taking the time between now and the meeting on Sunday, October 17th to pray and discern how you will vote.
Do you have questions you want answered before the congregational meeting? Contact the church office and we’ll see that someone contacts you.
The Board of Christ’s Church: Methodist and Presbyterian United
Sue Badgett, Worship Team representative
Beverly Davis, Presbytery Commissioner
Linda Grund-Clampit, SPRC Chairperson
Bob Main, Peace-Justice-Mission Team representative
Steve Moser, Stewardship (Trustees and Finance) Chairperson
Sherry Pittam, Education Team representative
Linda Scheirman, UM Lay Leader
Rev. David Prichard, moderator
Gail Saxowsky, clerk
*See the included information sheet for a description of the
October 17, 2021 Christ’s Church Congregational Vote Information
We hope the following information will inform your discernment and prayers as you prepare to vote. Please consider your sense of God’s call as well as an honest assessment of your ability and willingness to invest your presence, time, and gifts.
We are a union congregation, related both to The United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church USA. We have access to the resources of both denominations, which is a rich asset base. We also are governed by the polity of both denominations as well as our Plan of Union, which was developed when the two congregations joined in 1978. These guidelines both provide structure for and boundaries around our choices.
The United Methodists are considering the possibility of a cooperative UM shared ministry across Polk County, staffing the three UM churches (Christ’s Church, Dallas, Falls City) with a clergy team which would provide congregational care, develop a coordinated ministry across the county, and work with the congregations on developing community partnerships.
Initial contact has been made with community groups with which we have a relationship and shared values regarding the possibility of closer coordination in the future, sharing resources to strengthen the work they do. Western Compass Campus Ministry, Ella Curran Food Bank, and Family Promise (services to families experiencing homelessness) are all interested in continuing the conversation.
These possibilities are still in early, exploratory stages. The outcome of these explorations is not certain. The exploration will involve input from and decisions by groups outside of Christ’s Church. We can have input and establish partnerships, but we will not be in total control.
What does being open to these possibilities require of us?
· Energy for and openness to new structures; acceptance of changes in the way we do things, including possibly the uses of our building and property.
· Energy for and openness to new relationships; acceptance of changes in who we work with, worship with and care for.
· Commitment of our time, energy and financial resources. A willingness to provide leadership and/or support for the development of new structures, partnerships, and relationships.
· Patience – the development of these relationships and partnership structures takes time.
These possibilities are still in early, exploratory stages. The earliest the cooperative shared ministry UM plan would be put in place is July 1, 2022. Development of possible partnerships with community groups would take longer.
The United Methodists commit to working with the Presbytery to provide interim pastoral leadership between the time of Pastor Dave’s retirement on January 22, 2022 and July 1, 2022 as a longer-term plan for pastoral care is developed.
What if we say ‘No’ to these possibilities?
· Saying ‘no’ to these possibilities is not necessarily a failure nor a rejection of God’s call. Saying ‘no’ can simply be an honest and faithful recognition of who we are. Saying ‘no’ can be a recognition that these possibilities do not represent our discernment of what God is calling us to do at this time.
· The United Methodists still commit to working with the Presbytery to provide interim pastoral leadership between the time of Pastor Dave’s retirement on January 22, 2022 and July 1, 2022 as a longer-term plan for pastoral care is developed.
· Saying ‘no’ to these possibilities means that we recognize that we do not have the energy or leadership to explore these possibilities. We recognize that current church leadership is exhausted and our financial status is precarious.* We will be unable to maintain the status quo of congregational life for long. We face the possibilities of either scaling back our church life or closure:
o Scaling back church life might look like
§ A lay-led congregation (no clergy)
§ Divesting ourselves of the building (possibility of passing this resource on as a legacy to a new church start or community-service purpose, but denominational bodies must be part of that negotiation)
§ Functioning more as a faith community than as a chartered congregation (much smaller leadership structure and less financial responsibility to denominations)
§ Our Plan of Union defines the process of the dissolution of the Christ’s Church congregation, covering process and disposition of property.
§ Process: The Plan of Union calls for a vote to close being confirmed by a second vote a year later. The initial vote to close does not mean the doors are locked the next Sunday. There is a lengthy list of tasks that need to be accomplished. Leadership is still needed. Worship and congregational life can continue during this process.
§ Property: The church building and grounds belong to the United Methodist Church. When a congregation closes, the Conference Board of Trustees along with the Cabinet have the authority to decide the future of the property. The congregation can provide input on their wishes for the property’s uses in the future.
*In 2020, 27 members and friends donated to the budget of the church. Congregational giving represents approximately 90% of the church’s income. The contributions of two persons makes up 50% of congregational giving. In 2021 income has exceeded expense thus far and there was a strong response to the request for funds for the furnace repair. But there is substantial deferred maintenance at the church and the parsonage. Our savings have held steady, but they are not substantial: approximately $30,000 in the property fund and the general fund has stayed steady with a balance of approximately another $30,000.