Congregational Meeting Recap
On Monday January 16, 2023 we had our annual congregational meeting. This is normally something we do in the Fall, but we had our Vision Night in September to kick off the Making Room initiative, so we pushed our member's meeting back to the start of the year.
I served as Moderator of the meeting, and we did the things necessary per our denomination's Book of Church Order (established a quorum, voted to authorize the Session to approve the minutes of the meeting, etc). Pastor Brian, Shelby Simons and Graham Hentschel led us in a few songs to begin. Brian also let us know that you can listen to a live album recorded at a New City hymnsing in October 2021 (Apple Music and Spotify).
It was Martin Luther King Day, so I took the chance to share a little devotional, pulling from a sermon Dr. King preached on November 17, 1957 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The subject was "Love Your Enemies" and King shares a story as an over-arching metaphor. On a night drive between Chattanooga and Atlanta, Dr. King and his brother experienced a string of "discourteous" drivers. As their car passed others along narrow roads, the other drivers either forgot or refused to dim their lights. Exasperated, Dr. King's brother declared that the next car that didn't dim their lights was going to receive the same treatment. "I'm going to fail to dim [my lights] and pour them on in all of their power." Quickly assessing the possibilties, Dr. King replied that doing so would only make things worse. "Somebody got to have some sense on this highway,” he said. "Someone has to dim the lights." We talked a little about what it means to "dim the lights" rather than returning outrage for outrage, hate for hate, and instead how to love our enemies.
After the devotional, I gave a general update on the state of the church. In 2022, New City has continued to have encouraging growth.
Our giving to partner ministries and missionaries outside the church also grew this year.
I previewed where our Sunday morning teaching series were headed over the next year.
- Lent: Seven Deadly Sins (from the book of Proverbs)
- Eastertide: Fruit of the Spirit
- Summer: Luke 9 (on discipleship) & Psalms
- Fall: 1 Thessalonians and Ruth
Next we heard a number of ministry reports. Pastor Zach and Jenni Goodnight shared a video about the New City Student Ministry and Zach shared about the growth in year 2, both in breadth and depth, amongst students and leaders. The New City Kids staff gave us an update. As you know, things have been tight in the classrooms as we've added so many children across both services. Kristen Bennett shared some of our volunteer needs, and our hopes of opening new classes soon. Stacey Feagans told us about the midweek storytime, engaging parents and children in the neighborhood. And Becca Larson shared the vision behind a new ministry to children with special needs. Abigail Murrish and Pastor Brian shared about the shared vision of women's and men's ministries at New City, as well as some programming details of what to expect in the winter and spring.
Pastor Brian shared some specifics about our Block Plan in conjunction with Making Room. The Block Plan has been done in partnership with SNC Norwood and Sharpsburgh Elementary to improve traffic flow, increase parking, and create a more beautiful playspace at Sharpsburg (thanks to Gayle Frazer for donating so much time toward this end!). One of the first phases will involve gifting our Pavilion to Sharpsburg for them to utilize throughout the school day. We'll still have access to it after school hours and on weekends. It will continue to be a public amenity for the neighborhood.
Elders Dave Dupee and Mike Brown then gave some updates on Making Room. Our building currently is being used nearly every day of the week by ministries and groups both inside and outside the church. We're looking forward to being able to enhance this and serve our community as we make more space. We continue to be in need of more space for children and students, as well as fellowship gatherings. Our giving has been off to a strong start. Through the end of December 2022 (pre-giving and the first month of the campaign), $1,159,385 has already been received (over 17% of our $6.8million goal). This is an incredible start and we're excited to see how it continues between now and the end of the initiative (December 2024).
Mike explained our likely cash flow needs as the work begins on the project. He made a motion for the congregation to authorize the Session to pursue financing up to $1.5million for the purposes of the Making Room project. The motion was seconded and Mike answered questions, and the motion was adopted unanimously.
Finally, we conducted our officer elections. As a reminder, candidates for deacon and elder are nominated by the congregation, and then enter a period of training lasting almost a year. After mutal discernment and examination by the Session, candidates are then presented back to the congregation for election. This year the ballot consisted of three returning deacons (Eric Danielson, Tyler Jones, and Matt Jumper) and two new deacons (Vincent Wilson and Brandon Feagans). One new elder was on the ballot (Mark Kylander). All the candidates were elected and we closed out our time by singing O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.
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