State of the Church Report for Charge Conference 2020
at Glossbrenner U. M. Church, West District
Brian Albert, Pastor
This year has been the most unusual year in the memory of, I would say, almost anyone in our congregation. Since last year’s report, we have seen changes that would have been thought impossible to the average person. From a chronic decline in attendance, the end of 2019 saw a significant average increase in attendance. Financially, the anticipated $50,000 deficit was reduced to about $16,000. Going into the new year brought hope instead of anxiety and anticipation of continued blessings instead of continual concern. The first quarter of 2020 appeared to be a continuation and expansion of the bless-ing which God was sending to Glossbrenner. When the COVID Virus impacted the world, no one was really sure what would happen.
Initially Glossbrenner shut down like everyone else. The first Sunday after the “curfew”, there was only a sermon from the preacher and an impromptu a cappella benediction at the end. This was seen to be woefully inadequate for a worship service. The following Sunday consisted of an entire worship service, albeit accompanied by only a guitar and a bass, and offered to an empty sanctuary. Fast forward seven months later, and we have an average of about seventy-five in live Sunday morning worship, up to twenty livestreaming the service, and another one hundred or more watch-ing in the unfolding days and weeks after that. The worship service is continually being assessed for improvements and innovations that will improve its quality for our home folks and the people watching from around the country and from the world. Unfortunately, I do not have room to address the technological advances that were required to make these changes happen. While the worship service is perhaps the most visible, observable adaptive response this year, it is essential to recognize that it is only the tip of the iceberg.
Technological advances have been forced on us and the church has responded beautifully. In-stead of waiting out the virus, which most thought would be contained in a few months, Glossbrenner used the time to our advantage. For the first time in over a decade, the kitchen and Fellowship Hall floors were stripped and coated with sealer. Improvements were made in the audio-visual ability there, resulting in an eighteen by seven-foot retractable screen, a projector mounted permanently overhead, wall speakers mounted permanently, and a portable control console with con-nections wired in the walls, all due to the generosity of donors and the ingenuity and craftsmanship of our Trustees and others. The timing allowed for us to host two showings of the Sight and Sound production of Queen Esther. Following that, we intend to offer at least one movie a month for the blessing of our family and friends.
Additionally, our Bible studies had to go virtual. Recognizing a lack of understanding of core theological training, a thirty-week long Bible Study was initiated to review the Short Catechism of the church. While this endeavor is still in process, it will be archived for posterity on our website. Technology also advanced in our other Bible study, which now includes live participants in house, live participation via the GoToMeeting format, passive livestreamed attendance, and viewing available later, as it is archived on our website.
The entire church building, including Fellowship hall, and all classrooms, have been wired for internet access. This enabled us to Livestream the Esther production from Sight and Sound and allows for internet interaction in all our classrooms.
One of our Adult Sunday School classes resumed meeting in the fall, and now we have two of the three classes meeting regularly and we have resumed our Sunday school classes for elementary and middle school. We are careful about safety for our children, but excited that we now offer a Biblically based, professional curriculum that may bless our children for years to come.
Groups and committees have mostly resumed, initially via the GoToMeeting virtual format, but now often as a combination of virtual and live meetings. This allows us to continue planning and working to improve the life of our church as it impacts ourselves and our community. Currently, we are in the process of upgrading our audio-visual capabilities in the sanctuary.
These changes have allowed us to reach out into our community in new ways. Because we now have the internet capability, we are in conversation with our school district to offer our classrooms as internet “cafés” for students with poor reception at home. This is a new initiative which is still in the process of being organized. Additionally, we are looking to make the Fellowship Hall available to the public in ways beyond movies, to bring our community together.
Beyond the technology, Glossbrenner continues to make the apportionment payments to conference and the district, but intends to expand it’s missionary connections by supporting a missionary in Romania. We are considering an alternative REACH project if our annual summer mission trip is not available. We further intend to be a host sight for other mission oriented, community good projects, like New Life for Girls.
This has been an unprecedented year for us and the entire world. While we hear of many churches who have curtailed activities, many of us have been much busier than usual at Glossbrenner. Changes keep coming, new opportunities present themselves, and our people continue to rise to the challenge. If God continues to bless us as He has in the last eighteen months, there is certain to be better and brighter days ahead. In the spiritual life, the physical plant of the building, the financial stability of our budget, virtual and live attendance to worship and Bible study, and concern for our community, Glossbrenner continues to maintain or expand its presence. We all pray for an end to the threat of the Corona Virus, but we continue to praise God and actually thrive under these restrictive circumstances due to the steady outpouring of blessings from the Holy Spirit. Praise God.