It was a pleasure to celebrate our progress as a church at the annual meeting. At this well attended meeting, it was fun to recognize members who had been here for 50 years or more including Ruth Copp who has been a member here for 75 years! Impressive. We gave thanks for our staff and lay leadership. We approved a great slate of lay leaders willing to serve. We also passed a balanced budget which retained all of our staff, and provided for a cost of living raise while strengthening our financial base to further the mission and ministry of our church. This was made possible by a very successful Person to Person Campaign where we garnered 51 new pledges and where 75% of the pledgers increased. I give profound thanks for what we did together. We acknowledged, however, that we wanted to make additional progress on staff salaries and outreach but that this would only be possible if more pledges were received. Indeed, we continue to make visits and receive new pledges and invite you to participate if you have not already.
I give thanks for all we accomplished together in the past nine months. As we look forward to the coming 12 months, we want to take the opportunity to pause as a church to reflect on our top priorities as a congregation. On June 11, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, we will gather for an all church planning session. Any member or friend of the church is invited to attend. We also want to be sure that members of our committees make a special effort to be present. At this meeting, we will hear some initial feedback from the Person to Person Campaign while also naming priorities for the coming year. We will also take a look at the calendar. It will be a great evening which will be of wonderful assistance to staff and lay leaders as we make plans for the coming year.
The summer will afford us all time for rest and reflection to try to make sense out of what we are doing and where we are going. I will be heading to Israel with my son to visit so many of the places where Christianity had its birth. The trip will offer many opportunities to reflect on my faith, to meet many new people, and to make connections which will help with my preaching and to support the educational and outreach work of our church. I am grateful for this amazing opportunity to learn and grow and spend time in this way with Alex. It is my hope that all of you will have moments when you can step away from your routine to recharge and renew. Vermont in the summer, I am told, is one of the best places in the world where one can play and rejuvenate! It will be great to greet the beginning of summer with Jazz Sunday on June 9 featuring the Onion River Jazz Band. It will be a great day.
It is a real pleasure to serve among you, and I wish you Christ’s peace.