CONGREGATION QUESTIONS ARISING FROM FAMILY MEETING OCTOBER 4 2020
- Are some of our programs valuable enough to warrant the staff time required to continue with them, e.g. producing weekly podcasts, elaborate staging? (Abe Reimer)
a. Some things are valuable to some, and some things are valuable to others. We don’t assume in a community of diverse peoples that everything will be exactly equally valuable to all. However, in the sense that we are brothers and sisters in Christ we are called to love and respect the values each holds dear. That being said, all programs are evaluated on a regular basis for alignment with EFree’s vision and mission.
- Do some of our families feel neglected while we increase our involvement in our community? (Abe Reimer)
a. We believe that reaching out to our community builds fellowship within. From Acts 2 onward in the history of the church community outreach demonstrates the love of Christ and love for one another.
b. Pastors Jeremy and Mark are working very hard to connect people into community groups in order to enfold all of our people. This effort began with the Bridge Builder calls where every person possible in our phone directory/data base was contacted. Many have appreciated these outreach calls.
c. We recognize that in a large church extra effort must be made on the part of individuals, board and pastoral staff at connection. We have discovered that individuals who connect well are those that immerse themselves in either a small group of some type, or participating in a ministry area as a volunteer. These connections become your people.
- Has there been discussion of reducing hours for some of our full-time staff whose positions have changed due to not having people in the building, e.g. youth, elementary, etc. (Mark Orenstein)
a. Everything was up for discussion, and is being evaluated on an on-going basis. The reality is that the staff have worked tirelessly in pivoting to on-line programming, then back to on-site programming with all COVID-19 protocols in place, and besides that, flexing to cover for one another when needed.
- Could volunteers do some of the jobs that are now done by our staff? (Abe Reimer)
a. Staff shouldn’t be doing jobs that we can equip volunteers to do. Our staff is working hard to equip volunteers.
b.The reality is that volunteers are much more careful because of COVID-19, and are pulling back.
c.Healthy volunteers are needed right now for cleaning between services, reservations and check in hosts.
- Can you comment on decisions to pursue new hires in the midst of the pandemic? (Jon & Melissa Gartly)
a. This is a good question. The reality is that the concept of both of these positions have been talked about and evaluated long before COVID-19 hit. COVID-19 came as the perfect storm: wrong event, wrong place, wrong time – making everyone very unsure of the way forward. During times of difficulty the challenge is to be cognisant of current realities, and at the same time providing for the future by being on track with mission and vision.
Here is the rationale:
i.Minister of Community Engagement – this is actually an “in place” staff salary allocation that has been reconfigured. (When Josh Raine resigned, his position was never filled, but the salary allocation remained in the budget.) This salary allocation has been repurposed for the Minister of Community Engagement. The Board and Staff of EFree feel this is one of the next steps in working out our vision of “building bridges into our neighbourhoods and the world.”
ii.Executive Pastor – the need for this position has been contemplated since before Pastor Ian’s resignation. During the pastoral search process that ensued, the Search Committee recommended to the Board that we proceed with hiring both a Lead Pastor and an Executive Pastor. Their research had shown them that the job of a Lead Pastor in a church our size without an Executive Pastor was not manageable. At the time the Board felt it was best to get the Lead Pastor in place, and pursue the Executive Pastor later. This was communicated during the search process to the congregation, and on several subsequent occasions. This intention was also communicated to Pastor Geoff during the hiring process.
The wisdom and research of the Search Committee more than two years ago has born out. According to church staff vs congregation size ratio studies, we are understaffed in this very area, and Pastor Geoff is working far too many hours for his good and our good.
b. We are likely moving into the harder financial crunch times. What planning is in place for this? (Jon & Melissa Gartly)
i.We are watching our finances closely and ready to flex at any time.
ii.We are probing all government programs possible to aid us at this time.
iii.Over the years we have set aside savings to weather a storm.
iv.There is some room in the budget to reallocate if necessary.
v.The salary allocation for the Minister of Community Engagement has been in place for several years. See above 3.a.i.
vi.The budget passed by the congregation in June 2020 included salary for an Executive Pastor.
- Are there plans for additional janitorial staff to accommodate required COVID-19 guidelines and precautions? (Jon & Melissa Gartly)
a. Perhaps. We are watching this carefully, as it appears we may be under resourced in this area.
b. There are protocols in place for all facility users to participate in cleaning/sanitizing the areas that they have occupied, i.e. parents of Noah’s Ark climbers, Board meeting wipes down their tables and chairs, etc.
c. This is an area where we could really use volunteers who can safely participate.
d. Service times and locations are planned keeping in mind the custodial staff.
- Why do we need a women’s minister but not a men’s minister? Don’t our other programs such as worship services and small groups apply to both men and women? We have been members of small groups for many years. Within the last month, two of our group members lost a spouse. We have other singles and needy people in our membership. If our group is effective, perhaps we don’t need a hired person to help the bereaved and the women. (Abe Reimer)
a. It has become the practise of many churches to employ personnel for women’s ministry recognizing that counseling, discipleship and fellowship usually works better in dedicated gender situations. The Board and Staff of EFree highly value the role of Pam in congregational care and Glenda in ministry to women.
‘Just a note to let you know how much we appreciated you and Rich making the effort to hold that Family Meeting on Sunday evening. Since we are not able to easily meet together as a church body, it would be easy for communication to break down and then unity, a blessing our church has long enjoyed, would be more difficult. How wise of you to avoid this happening by taking extra steps to stay in touch with us and let the congregation know what is happening and the changes that have been made, largely because of COVID-19. You presented information clearly and it was easy to follow your decisions and the reasons behind them. Well done and thank you!
Margie and George Ney