Heard it at Council: October 2022

By Kate Silfen, Church Historian | October 14, 2022

Council members enjoyed a busy, hybrid meeting in October. For the first time in many months, several members of Council gathered in-person in the newly named Phillis Wheatley Room.

Maren Batalden and Rick Spalding presented us with quick updates on the status for the searches for the senior and associate pastors. Rick reported that he is feeling upbeat about the search for a new associate pastor, and was happy to report that there are several promising candidates, and interviews will begin next week. He feels optimistic that he and the working group will be able to present a nominee to the church later this fall. Maren was pleased to report that the Old South’s profile was released on schedule at the end of September, and that applications are already starting to come in. Members of this committee are doing active outreach to various UCC networks, individuals, and church leaders to get the word out about Old South’s open senior minister position. Maren praised the search committee for both their enthusiasm and hard work.

After receiving this good news, Council members turned their attention to sharing thoughts about increasing worship attendance and member engagement after this long, disruptive Pandemic season. Moderator Phil Stern and Membership Committee Chair David Connaughton shared a chart that illustrated the drop in in-person and virtual worship attendance. During 2010-2019, Old South was adding about sixty members a year. Within the past few years, this number has dropped to an average of 25-30 new members a year. Rick noted that this is a decline that many churches have been seeing for several years, but we have only begun to see this at the Old South Church.

Church leaders and committee chairs highlighted several initiatives that might help us meet this challenge. There will be a fall calling campaign during the week of November 2nd, and this will give callers an opportunity to connect with members and hear what might encourage them to engage with our community and attend worship services in-person. Katherine noted that there will be an upcoming Christian Service and Outreach Fair during Community Hour on October 16th. This will give members and friends an opportunity to explore different opportunities to become involved with the Church’s social justice and outreach initiatives. Several Council members suggested creating and distributing a survey to find out what would draw people back to Old South, and what is currently tethering them to our community.

In other news, Operations Committee Chair Lisa Loveland was happy to report that the masonry repair project is now complete. She praised John Braught for ensuring that this project went smoothly, and gave thanks for the difference he has made at Old South. Katherine reminded Council members that there will be an upcoming Community Hour where we can learn about GBIO’s latest initiatives. She encouraged everyone to attend. Rick Spalding closed out a very productive meeting by leading us in a quiet moment of prayer.