This has been one of the toughest years on record, and we are honoured to have spent it with a caring and forward-thinking congregation who learned to roll with whatever the world threw at us. You are resilient, you are strong, and you are amazing.
On Friday, March 13 of this year, the Board held an emergency Zoom meeting and decided to make our services online only – starting that coming Sunday.
Since then, a portion of the congregation has become Zoom experts – from our amazing tech and chat hosting volunteers to the choral videos performed by our Music Director PJ Buchan, accompanist Paul Rodermond, choir members, and Josh Robern, who edits and puts them all together. Our Sunday Services committee members are camera ready for services, and that’s due to their dedication and commitment behind the scenes. What we see on Sundays is the proverbial gliding duck – underneath, several dedicated staff and volunteers are working extremely hard to bring us engaging, enriching, family-friendly services every week.
And these efforts are so worth it! Our Sunday services have stable attendance numbers – even during the summer! We also have friends and guests from around the world join us, not only for special life events, but for sermon topics that interest them, or just to check us out.
Besides Zoom, members of our congregation have stepped up to help in other ways. May brought the retirement of our long-time administrator, Pamela Johnson, and a dedicated group of eight volunteers have done aspects of the job. Hopefully, if we are able to resume larger scale rentals next year, we can hire a new full-time administrator.
At our lowest point this year, due to the pandemic, we had to part ways with several of our part time staff. We miss them and hold them all in our hearts.
We can’t stress enough how amazing the congregation has been over this past year. Committees have adapted to distancing, and have managed to keep doing the work. We have new raised garden beds in the backyard thanks to a combined effort of the House, Properties and Green Action committees. Our commitment to social justice has kept our Winnipeg Harvest Food Bank available on Thursday mornings. Pastoral Care has kept us connected in as many ways as possible.
Our Director of Lifespan Faith Development, Andrea James, keeps offering thoughtful and needed content for all ages – from pre-service religious exploration on Sundays to Wellspring Sources that studies the tenets of our faith. Andrea came back from a sabbatical in April and hit the ground running!
None of this work would have been possible without the steady guidance and innovation of Reverend Meghann Robern. She has been hard at work both in front of the Zoom camera for Sunday services and our new Wednesday vespers, as well as keeping us connected and finding us new ways to grow. We are fortunate to have a minister that is quick to adapt while being mindful of tradition.
Reverend Meghann is also mentoring our student minister, Nicole McKay, who will be working with us full time from January to April to complete her studies. Since Nicole is based in Southern Ontario, technology allows her to be a part of this community in a way that would have been impossible last year.
Your patience and ability to adapt has been a real strength that has kept us going. Your pledges and extra donations have kept the building maintained. Your participation in online learning sessions and get togethers have kept our community vibrant and challenged while staying distanced. We are an amazing and unique community, and we look forward to what the future brings.
This year has also brought about the work to make a long-needed update to our Mission and Vision. This work will continue into the new year to help tie the work of our committees closer to our shared vision.
We could go on! We as a Board are so proud of our community and the resilience of our people. These highlights are not the only work continuing in our community, and we wish we had the space to lift up everyone’s work! Looking into the new year, we are planning on a more timely way to do just that.
Everything is harder during a pandemic. So many people have been affected both around the world and here at home. We share the highlights to uplift what is possible.
Though we continue to distance to keep each other safe, our community is strong. We know that our church is our people and the good works we do more than it is a building.
Thank you to all of our members and friends. Stay home, stay safe, and, whatever you celebrate, happy holidays.
Your Board of Directors:
Lauren Bailey, president
Kristin Jimmy, vice-president
Peter Miller, treasurer
Heather Emberley, secretary
Esther Klassen, member at large
M.C. Ziegler, member at large