In late 2015, we began a consultative process regarding the evening service and suggestions for changes that need to be made in order to get the service back on a growth trend. As a result of those consultations, a different staffing model was chosen which enabled us to add clergy candidate Sam Morris as a part time staff position for the evening service. We have also modified our approach to music for the evening service. Staff and Team Leaders continue to meet to discuss the future changes for the evening service. We reported to the evening congregation and gave them an update on planned changes to the evening service.
Pastoral Care Review and Revamp
Beyond great worship and a growing number of ways to connect, we know that from time to time people turn to MCC Toronto to find emotional and spiritual support to navigate life’s disappointments, challenges and difficulties. As a result, we have developed a new Community Care Ministry. This Ministry includes the following 4 pillars: 1) Grief and Loss; 2) Other Care Support Groups; 3) Mental Health & Wellness and 4) Care & Prayer (including Deacons). Funding for this initiative has been secured thanks to the generous estate gift of the late Kay Lehman. Our goal is to hire 2 people on a part-time basis to put the needed support systems in place and to bring in “crisis management” training to support the congregation, clergy and staff as the need arises.
Refugee and Immigration Program
When the funding for this Program ran out in 2014, our primary goal was to secure new funding sources and rebuild the program. Much of the success of this Program can be attributed to the amazing work of the volunteers in the Strategy and Fundraising Committee. We are also very grateful for the strong support we received from the congregation during a recent fundraising campaign. The funding we received from this campaign has allowed us to hire a new Program Leader, Aleks Dughman-Manzur and increase the number of hours they’re able to spend rebuilding the program. The goals of the new Program Leader include: 1) ensuring the 5 refugees we’re sponsoring/settling are receiving the support they need and 2) to develop a vision and plan for the future of the Ministry.
Children’s and Family Ministry
The number of children and families participating in this Ministry continues to grow. In response to the growing need, we have hired Andrew Holmes as our new Children’s Animator. Andrew has a tremendous amount of skills and experience in building family-oriented spiritual programming. The Ministry has a clear vision and the primary goal now is to collaboratively develop a plan with the families to make it happen. We continue to be challenged by facility issues and we’re looking for funding so we can create space suitable to the programming we want to deliver.
Senior Leadership Transitions
Following the mid-March departure of Rev Kevin Downer, MCC Toronto’s Executive Pastor, the ministries/teams that reported to him have all been transitioned to Shelly Morris as our Executive Director or to me as the Senior Pastor. Many of these teams have initiated some great planning work of their own through the Community Framework model and we continue to support their efforts in these areas.
With respect to the Senior Pastor Transition process, our “Church of the Future” survey provided some good feedback about the selection criteria for the next Senior Pastor. The majority of survey respondents were individuals who have been coming to the 11am service for many years and this left several groups underrepresented. Our short-term goal is to set up meetings with diverse groups in the congregation e.g. HOLA/PACE/Young Adults/Choir in order to hear their views. The Board will be sharing more information about the search process and timelines in the weeks to come.
Community Engagement & Spirituality
We hired Mike Dodds as our new Team Leader for this Ministry. Our short-term and long term goals include: 1) Stabilizing key teams that are struggling without a leader or enough volunteers; 2) Volunteer scouting for our events (Pride & 20th Anniversary of Triangle); 3) Membership criteria/covenant/process and list clean-up and getting an ASE program ready to go for the fall.
Effective communication is a key characteristic of a vibrant community. The goal with communications has been to establish a number of new volunteer teams that allows us to support the communication needs of the ministries/social groups; increase our social media presence; “report” on more of what’s happening within our community and produce more vibrant digital arts for our web and outreach events. The work of these volunteer teams has been amazing to date and our goal is to continue growing these teams. A future goal is to develop a communication survey for the congregation that will allow us to benchmark current satisfaction levels and implement improvement ideas.
Web Enabled Congregational Engagement
Early in 2015 we formed a team of staff and volunteers to begin the search for new technology. This new technology will replace our current membership/financial management database (PowerChurch) and introduce a “Facebook-like” application that will allow ministries/groups to more effectively connect online. The team did some great work in developing requirements and in identifying a list of technology vendors that could fulfill these requirements.
Due to a lack of funding, we deeply regret this initiative is now on hold. We look forward to renewing our efforts when we have sufficient financial stability to proceed.
Congregational Giving Program
The goal of our congregational giving program is to create a culture of appreciation and generosity. Calling donors to thank them for their gifts is a key aspect of this program. Another goal is to frequently share all the amazing work that is happening as a result of the congregation’s generosity. These stories are very powerful testaments to the strength of our community. Lastly, we continue to look for ways to make it easier to give.
Improve Worship Planning & Innovation
In 2015 we implemented a new web enabled planning tool called “WorshipPlanning.com”. The benefits of this tool have been significant: far less reliance on email communication, collaboration is much easier and more effective and all the teams involved in worship can remain well informed about each other’s plans. Following the amazing success of this initiative, our goal is to introduce more innovation in worship. A key aspect of this goal was to hire Rev. Carmen Llanos as our Pastor of Alternative Worship, a newly created temporary contract position that is funded from our 2% Fund. Great progress has been made so far, with alternative services that have taken place with HOLA, Blacks in Praise and Worship and Young Adults.
Culture is a way of describing many of the qualities, attitudes and priorities which shape how we are with one another in community and how we work together to fulfill our vision and mission. We will continually evolve our culture to meet the changing needs of our congregation and of society. Collectively we all contribute to culture and therefore we each contribute to affirming, nurturing and supporting – or not – what Culture Shift can be and where we might go with it.
In 2015 we formed a Culture Shift Committee that includes staff and volunteers. We have a much clearer sense of the journey we’re on. Our goal is to develop a “compelling vision” and write succinct statements that summarize how we see our culture changing. This will allow us to engage the ministries and the congregation as a whole in meaningful conversations about this journey and how we get there together.
Achieve our Financial Health Goals
Our primary financial health goal is to be able to sustain the ministries/programs from the offerings we receive from the congregation. Achieving this required us to “right-size” the organization in 2016 and to establish a more conservative budget that doesn’t have a reliance on estate funds. The Board approved a conservative budget in January of 2016 and results to date indicate that we are on track to produce the income and expenses we anticipated.
Attendance: There was a 0.8% drop in overall attendance (including live webcast) YTD from 2014-15, which included a 9% drop during Brent’s sabbatical. The reason for the drop needs more analysis. The attendance for the live webcast category grew by 20.4% from 2014-15. For the first six months of 2016, there was a 3.6% increase in attendance from 2015.
YTD December total and average attendance for 2013-2015
|Service||2013||2014||2015||% change 2013-15||% change 2014-15|
|Average/week for all services and live webcast||622||586||581||-6.6%||-0.8%|
Attendance Stats January – June 2014-16
|Service||Average Weekly AttendanceJanuary – June 2014||Average Weekly AttendanceJanuary – June 2015||Average Weekly AttendanceJanuary – June 2016||% Change 2014-16||% Change 2015-16|
Report from the Board of Directors
We hope you are checking out our “Congregational Updates” that are featured in Sunday e-News, the Sunday service bulletin, and are included on our website. We have committed to regular, transparent and timely communication with the Congregation. We meet every six to eight weeks and provide you with the key points arising from our meetings. In addition, on our church website, you can find a variety of Board documents, including the Board Roles and Responsibilities, our role as a “Policy” Board, our slate of individual responsibilities, our strategic plan, and our Senior Pastor Selection process. We encourage you to check out: http://www.mcctoronto.com/who-we-are/board-of-directors
As a Board we focus on policies, vision development and refinement, strategy, and oversight. In 2016 we have two major objectives that Brent has already touched on:
Building the foundation to support financial stability and sustainability: we have worked with staff to target both increasing revenue and reducing expenses as we seek to find the delicate balance of challenging ourselves to do all that we are called to do – while also recognizing the challenges of people’s capacity to give. And so we have made difficult decisions re: staffing and continue to leave ourselves financially exposed by our modest attempts to build our contingency funds. At the same time we are working on a strategy to increase the number of people who support us via automated giving.
Senior Pastor Selection Process: We have summarized the Church of the Future survey and will be communicating the results this summer. It will provide a general direction in terms of the priorities of our next Senior Pastor.
The time-line for the public call for candidates is still being reviewed. We will continue to engage with congregation as we go through the process – via Town Hall meetings, small group meetings, and individual conversations.
Under our by-laws, the Board of Directors is charged with the responsibility of identifying, recruiting and presenting to the Congregation our next Senior Pastor who will be formally elected by members of MCC Toronto.
The mandate of the search committee is to have a clear and robust Senior Pastor selection plan to ensure they identify the strongest possible candidate who will be strongly endorsed by the congregation to partner with us as we continue to grow as a vibrant, inclusive, progressive Christian church. They have developed criteria including a focus on progressive theology criteria for potential candidates.
At this point we are in the process of proactively identifying possible candidates who may be interested in applying. This search has extended beyond MCC. We will also be conducting an open call and inviting all interested parties to apply.
Ultimately the Selection Committee will come to the Board with a recommendation. When the Board has endorsed the candidate, the individual will be presented to the congregation. Members in good standing will then vote on the candidate.