Pastor’s Report to the Annual Meeting of the Congregation
January 27, 2013
When I reflect on the year that was, I am impressed by all that we have done and are doing. For instance, a grant from the Fund for Public Health in NY helped support our walking program and expand it to include healthy eating, including a healthy eating workshop held at the church. Many of us involved with the nuts and bolts of the grant, however, will probably think twice before entangling ourselves in another such grant because of the paper work and other time consuming entanglements involved.
Back in February we invited, and were visited by two representatives from presbytery’s Committee on Nurturing Congregations. They worshiped with us and then stayed to engage us in conversation during the fellowship time. As far as I know, North Church was one of the few congregations to invite representatives of the committee to visit with us and give us some feedback, feedback which the session has considered.
During four weeks in February and March I offered a mid-week Soup Supper Bible Study on Mark. Six different people attended at least one session with an average attendance of five.
In April we cooperated with the Firrst Presbyterian Church of Whitestone and Trinity Episcopal Church in Whitestone to present a public reading of the Gospel According to Mark. The three churches met for dinner at the First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone and representatives from the three Churches took turns reading through the Gospel According To Mark from beginning to end. Warren Almond and Will Spisak read on behalf of North Church. Several months after you elected me your Pastor, the Presbytery of New York City formally marked our transition fron Designated Pastor to Pastor with a Service of Installation on April 29th. April also marked our third annual Art for Peace art competition, show, and reception.
As we have the past several years, we sponsored a Community Picnic in June, and were joined in doing so by the Ha Ye Sung Church.
We hosted the Long Island Harmonica Club for a concert presented from our gazebo, followed by watermelon, in July. Will Spisak offered English as a Second Language classes starting in July but there were no takers.
Wendy Keiser O’Neill started offering a Meditation Hour in August, a new program that has since morphed into Practicing Mindfulness: Introduction to Contemplative Prayer and Meditation, which I am co-leading with Wendy. As many as eight people have attended in a single night with many more having participated at least once.
In August we held a special meeting of the congregation to consider the report of the Task force on Congregational Growth and Development. Several members and friends participated and the session has since considered the comments and rankings generated at that meeting. Thanks to a lot of work by John Moser and financial gifts in memory of Eve Pearson, especially by her son Arthur, we dedicated the Evelyn Pearson Session Room, also in August. The session and other groups and classes now make regular use of that space, a space that for a long time had been dedicated to storage.
We accepted an invitation from the Ha Ye Sung Church to share a thanksgiving meal with them in November, and also, for the first time, hosted the Whitestone Community Thanksgiving Service, attended by members and clergy of five other churches.
In addition to the above there are many longer term and on-going programs and activities and a few people to whom I offer a shout-out. Lynda Spielman has been offering a watercolor class in Studio North, bringing some community people into our building, and also edits and mails our monthly newsletter. Warren Almond has organized several movie nights and worked with others to offer bicycling trips in addition to opening the church on Sunday mornings. Wendy Keiser O’Neill continues to offer morning stretch and has recently also been organizing family dance parties and co-leading Practicing Mindfulness, also bringing some community people into our building. Gia Vitalli offered several book club gatherings in Studio North, was the impetus behind Practicing Mindfulness, and publicizes North Church events through the Meet-Up internet site. As Church Secretary, Lynn Ramano basically volunteers her time to copy, fold, and sometimes stuff inserts into the Sunday morning worship folder.
Last year we received four new members, Lisa Moon, Douglas Villa, Elisabeth Watson, and Natasha Spisak, the most new members we have received in any single year in recent history. We also celebrated our first baptism, Elijah, infant son of Lisa Moon, the first baptism also in recent memory. The session also elected a new Clerk, Wendy Keiser O’Neill, and a new Treasurer, Will Spisak.
Add all the above to fifty-two Sunday Services and sermons, special services, monthly session meetings, and other activities and events not mentioned, and it seems that we actually do quite a bit for a small church of between twenty-five and thirty active members plus friends. Imagine what we could do with thirty to thirty-five or even forty active members plus friends.
2012 was the first full year during which I also worked half-time teaching GED every morning for the Child Center of New York JobNet program in Jamaica, Queens. While the additional steady income has alleviated the financial burden associated with serving as a half-time Pastor, it has also limited my availability to the congregation and placed other constraints on my time and schedule.
John Edward Harris