Monday, May 2, 2016

3 Ways to Grow APPROVED!

Children, Technology, Communication. You're going to hear a lot about those three areas of St. Stephen UMC's ministries in coming months.

By vote of those present at our All-Church Conference on May 1, we're going to invest portions of the proceeds from the parsonage sale in three ministry areas recommended from the 2015 church-wide study we did with the Small Church Initiative. Our request to use parsonage proceeds, which usually are designated solely for building use, was approved in March by the North Texas Conference Cabinet.

Approved by St. Stephen members May 1 are:

Children's Ministry Coordinator. This part-time paid staff person would oversee programming for Sunday school from preschool through 8th grade; Children's Church; Vacation Bible School; and other opportunities as time permits. A total of $36,000 over three years, or $12,000 per year, has been budgeted for the position. The Staff-Parish Relations Committee and the Rev. Nancy DeStefano will now begin a search for candidates. This staff position relieves the burden on our families that have been leading children's ministries, allowing them to participate in worship and other activities that spiritually nurture the parents as well as the children. The staff position also signals to the broader community that St. Stephen places a high priority on children's faith education and development.

Technology Enhancement.  We live in a digital age. Even older "digital immigrants" have become familiar with media-enhanced experiences. Churches such as St. Stephen are finding ways to use screens and other computer-assisted technology in ways that will enhance the worship experience, improve communication and foster community. A Technology Committee will partner with the Worship Committee to investigate and recommend equipment for this purpose, up to a maximum one-time expense of $15,000.

Visibility and Partnerships.  How often have we wished that more people knew about the welcoming, loving, social-justice-oriented community that is St. Stephen? How often have we wished that St. Stephen UMC could have been represented at some major public event, if only we'd known about it?  In order to enhance our public visibility and enable us to partner with more like-minded individuals and groups, members voted to budget up to $10,000 over three years for expanding our communications outreach. As with the evaluation of our new mobile app, research will help us determine the best methods for reaching the folks who long to hear a message of God's unconditional love for all, and who want to make new friends in a welcoming community. The Communications and Inviting Committees will partner together on this priority.

Progress reports on each of these ministry objectives will be given to the congregation on a regular basis through our website, newsletter and other means. The Church Council will approve the expenses related to these objectives.

If you're interested in volunteering to help with any of our "3 Ways to Grow," please contact Church Council co-chairs Teddi Fulenwider or Tina Simpson. Meanwhile, the Council invites everyone to pray for these ministry goals and for the future of St. Stephen UMC.

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