There are things to be excited about at CCP! We have some new faces on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday Evening. We have a healthy CE program which is not common for many smaller churches. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of our pledges were received. And 167% of Loose Funds were received after the leap of faith of not passing around a plate. Yes, I wish there was more consistency in our Worship on Sundays, but our Christmas Sunday Service saw 70 people attending, the largest in some 5 years from what I am told.
So, again, there are reasons to be excited!
But let’s be real. Mainline churches like ours are struggling. The younger generations are increasingly unchurched and uninterested in church. Churches are fading out all around us. New England is especially difficult for church growth.
Still, giving up is not an option. We need to keep trying. We are called to Evangelize!
And I dare say, Evangelism best works when we ourselves know joy and wonder.
Three years ago, through a visioning process fostered by Bob Naylor, we learned that having a niche, one that brings us joy, is essential to attracting new people. There are some 60 UCC congregations within a 10 mile radius of Plainville, according to the SNEUCC website. Then there are the Methodist and Lutheran churches, Differentiation is crucial. A joyful niche would differentiate us.
I’ve thought awhile about what our joyful niche might be. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Plainville is a very musical town. We have musicians within our own congregation that are tapped into Plainville’s music scene. There’s talent to spare out there! How about making music and the arts our unique ministry, our joyful nice? We can use music and the arts to do spiritual and missional ministry
Music and the arts are divine gifts able to inspire the soul. Music and the arts have led Christians throughout the history of the church into a closer relationship with God. Reads the Psalms, look at beautiful architecture like this church, listen to sacred music by Beethoven, Coltrane, and Amy Grant, sing hymns, and you see this!
There are several churches throughout the UCC and other denominations that have landed on this “niche” and have found new vitality in their ministry
So, I am suggesting a two-year “experiment” with an evaluation at the end of the first year…. This program would begin after Easter this year and would be a full-year plan.
Bob Naylor has a wonderful quote: “Renewed vitality is a risk, but rather than play it safe and miss the joy and spiritual uplift of giving it a try, take a leap of faith….faith is about taking first step without seeing the whole staircase.”
So I’d love to begin an expanded conversation with any who are interest in such a ministry, one significantly focused on music and the arts. Come see me at the end of the Annual Meeting or sign up on this sheet – children, youth, singles, married, seasoned citizens, no matter who you are. I’d love your input about ideas, community talent connections.
The idea is pretty basic – attract people by offering something unique and different, yet still focused on building Christ’s community and edifying the spirit.
As for some details to give you a taste of what this might look like on the ground, I am passing out a sheet that gives a sample of a full-year plan. This is not a finished product by any means, but just to help you get a feel for what the plan would look like on the ground.
Foundational to the plan is what I’ve mentioned elsewhere – The Music’Sacred Project, music concerts once a month on Friday nights, featuring local musicians and focused on edifying the spirit and building community.
Another monthly Friday night offers would be Open Mic Night.
We also will be starting what we’re calling Art House – local artists will display and sell their art in Kelsey Hall at Coffee hour on the third Sunday of each month.
Then there’d be once a month Sunday services built around music and the arts to point to the Good News of God’s Love, Beauty, Creativity, Community, etc.
To close my presentation, I want to thank all of you for your commitment and dedication to the church – I am excited about the future!
Monthly concerts featuring local musicians. A Coffee Hour will follow (where donations will be received). One or two of the monthly concert to feature the organ and to be held in sanctuary.
OPEN MIC FRIDAY
SUNDAYS EACH MONTH
- Week #1 – Communion & Praise, with Praise Band
- Week #2 – Organ Blast Sunday
- Week #3 – The GTMA (Gospel Through Music & Arts Program) – see schedule below*
- Week #4 – Intergenerational Choir Sunday
- Week #5 (when applicable) – Taize (Contemplative Service)
* Possible Schedule of GTMA program
May 21, 2023: Wallace Stevens Service – a service built around the poetry of Wallace Stevens (who is from Hartford), including using poetry as hymn texts.
June 18, 2023: God’s Art Service – a service outdoors at a park with Jackie on guitar and Pete on Accordion
(July and August would give me a break!!)
September 17, 2023: Culinary Arts Communion Breakfast – An actual breakfast with artisan bakery in Kelsey with Communion the centerpiece.
October 15, 2023: DJ Don Service – a service where I get to play DJ, spinning tunes and speaking truth 🙂
November 19, 2023: Sunday Mornings at the Movies – a service that will incorporate the 1955 film East of Eden
December 17, 2023: Christmas Sunday
January 21, 2024: Photos & Praise – a service that will include displays of photography in the sanctuary and reflections based on those photos.
February 18, 2024: Jazz Sunday – a service incorporating Jazz music and seeing the music as a metaphor for spirituality
March 17, 2024: The Art of Basketball… nothing more artistic than a great dunk or a difficult three-pointer.
April 21, 2024: The Music of Easter… a service looking at different genres’ invocation of the Easter theme.