Recounting our History, and Accounting Our Membership and Assets: Why all three will see us to a new day in the life of this church!
WHAT A WONDERFUL HISTORY!
Sunday, September 24, 2006, the congregation participated in the first of three “Transformational Journey” event. The first event featured a timeline exercise, as we recalled the origins of the church (established in 1827) and the 19th century (including a rare photograph of Rev. R.M. Luther, minister in the 1870s on Easter Sunday morning and an equally rare treasure newly acquired: a page taken from an 1877 architectural journal article discussing the architectural design of the present church, built in 1857). We spent a lot of our time exploring the “contemporary” era of the church, talking about the life of the congregation from the 1947 retirement of Dr. W. G. Towart (pastor for an astonishing 33 years!) to present day (including memories of times spent with Revs. Spencer, Payne, LaBombard, Miller, and Drosky and the interims Revs. Robbins, Lane, Narowitz, and Hardy who served in transitional times). The congregation has had times of challenge, grace, frustration, and peace. And we are grateful for the many stories shared on September 24th and invite the storytelling to continue!
COUNTING OUR MEMBERSHIP
The board of deacons is asking your assistance in updating our church membership information. Recently the church acquired a software package called “Church Windows” that will GREATLY enhance our abilities to carry out office work, pastoral care, and help us better communicate within the church’s community. Please take time to fill out the form located in this newsletter and submit it as soon as possible to the church office. To misquote a gospel hymn, When the roll is called “down yonder,” we hope you’ll be there in our database!
LEARNING HOW TO DO ASSET MAPPING
On Sunday, October 15, 2006, we will try our hand at a new method in getting churches to try new things and dream boldly. “Asset Mapping” is a methodology commonly used in a variety of settings to help people look at the possibilities that they have already with things in hand. Assets are usually thought of as “financial”, but really a congregation has assets in its people and their giftedness, its ministries, its physical plant, its financial and spiritual resources, its affiliations (community, denominational, ecumenical, etc.), its institutions (we support seminaries, universities, regional organizations, camp/conference centers, etc.). In other words, we start looking for ways to say that the glass is half full. Congregations in crisis or transition usually look at why they are feeling “half empty” (stagnate, dull, stuck). Asset mapping helps us start seeing the blessings in our midst.
As part of our worship service, we will ask people to get into groups and think as creatively as possible. Take for example our sanctuary. We could think of it as “huge and too big for a smaller congregation” or “hard to heat in the winter with fuel oil costs being so high.” Through using asset mapping’s way of looking at the sanctuary, we could see it as
“seats 325 persons”,
“great Wicks pipe organ,”
“right on Main Street.”
Put these things together, and it strikes me that we could have an organ recital during a public event like Mayfest, which was right on our front lawn for part of the festivities this year. Asset mapping helps us see our building not as a millstone but as a place ready for mission! What could we do if we ponder something well known to us: our congregation, our building, our location, our financial/spiritual resources, even ourselves.
A little advance homework: As you think about the congregation, the church, and her ministries, can you also think of yourself? What are YOUR assets (spiritual gifts, skills, abilities, passions)? Each of us brings something unique to the community of disciples called First Baptist Church of Bennington. Can you dare to see new ways? Growing our membership and continuing the ministries of this church depend on our willingness to look at our assets and utilize them well!