Feburary 10, 2019

Reflection from Katherine Bitzer

at the AGM on Sunday February 10th, 2019

Board Chair, Katherine Bitzer highlighted a number of key events from 2018 (all found within the Annual Report), and then offered the following reflection.  On the screen was an image of a small seedling growing from the middle of an old tree stump.

 When you look at the image on the screen, what do you see?  Do you see an old, dead tree stump or do you see the promise of new life?  

 In the midst of my reflections on 2018, I came across an article I had cut out of the paper a couple of years ago.  Written by a Rev. Micah Smith, he reminds us that if we look to the natural world, God's world, free from human planning and control stumps play a crucial role in ensuring rebirth and renewal.  Paraphrasing Rev. Smith:

In any healthy forest environment, you will find what are known as nursery stumps.  To the untrained eye, they can appear rotting or dead, but not so.  The remains of the original tree that fell to the ground, in reality, is thriving.  It is busy giving life to a new generation of trees through the provision of fertile soil and a protected growing environment.

For those who would prefer that this reflection shift out of the forest and into the Bible, we move to the Book of Isaiah, chapter 11, verse 1:  "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit".  A familiar passage to most I assume.  In Rev. Smith's words:  

What a picture of hope for Israel and for us...the prophet Isaiah doesn't describe the shoot springing up out of a carefully prepared, plowed and furrowed field, but rather out of the pain of loss.  In the place where it seems as though life's circumstances have sheared off our hope for the future...amazingly that is where the shoot grows best.   

When I look at this image I see the numerous rings on the stump - a testament to the years the tree had stood tall.  Most importantly, I see a relationship that exists perfectly in God's world...whereby a nursery stump is now fulfilling its very purpose and promise: to provide a sunny, nutrient-rich and protected growing environment for the next generation that one day will stand just as tall. 

February 3, 2019

Reported to the Congregation on February 3rd,

by Ginger Comission - Coordinator of Fellowship and Caring

Good morning everyone.

I wanted to update everyone on the status of our youth ministry and to acknowledge all of the volunteers who have assisted in the nursery and with Godly Play and Messy Church. You all deserve our recognition for the wonderful assistance you have provided to TUC congregation.

 Initially on our arrival at St. Mathews Lutheran Church there was an attempt to integrate the 2 church schools but for various reasons such as the different start times and wrap up times this has not been working out as planned.

 TUC weekly nursery volunteers has continued to date but a few volunteers have moved on and presently myself and Pam Fraser are covering the 2nd and 4th Sunday. There also are some folks offering to help sporadically especially when there are 5 Sundays in the month.

 We have been able to share the nursery with St. Mathews Lutheran Church but this year they now have some babies in the nursery and this is not working as well with our older age children. There are other rooms we can use though plus we have even used room 102 during Advent for Xmas activities. St. Mathews Lutheran Church has a full roster for Church School but their coverage in the nursery is also incomplete at this time.

 I am asking if anyone would feel called to assist us with providing some supervision and programming to our youth to please contact myself. I have always enjoyed assisting with the children as it provided a different experience from my career with Home Care and working with adults and seniors and provided a good balance in my life. (I should mention that at this time there are no children in the group in diapers if that would be a barrier to your volunteering).

 So please contact me on your willingness to assist, time you might be available - once a month on a roster or as required and if you have any restrictions on ages you are willing to work with.

I know the children and parents would greatly appreciate a more robust church school presence.

  My contact information is in the Bulletin.

Thank - you

January 13, 2019

Reported to the Congregation on January 13,

by Lynn Oliver, Board Vice-Chair

Good Morning;

For those of you I have not had the privilege of chatting with my name is Lynn Oliver and I currently hold the position of Vice-Chair on your Board.  My role on the board is to aid in communication between the congregation and the church board.

If you attended a Sunday service late in November you would have heard Rev. Bill speak of an up coming meeting, he was attending with Waterloo Presbytery Support Minister, Paul Miller, regarding complaints from 4 members of Trinity. 

I want to remind you that Trinity has been operating without an M&P committee since 2016, and as such Paul Miller, in his role as Presbytery Support Minister, has been helping the Board deal with M&P concerns as they arise.     The meeting held early in December was attended by Bill, Paul, a support person for Bill and the Chair of Presbytery`s M & P Staff Committee.

The complainants asked that their anonymity be kept intact so concerns were discussed at a general level.  It was acknowledged that the journey from a larger church to a small church is a painful one for many people.  Paul acknowledged the progress our congregation has made over the last year and hopes that this unnecessary conflict not jeopardize our progress. Paul commented that one of our entrenched habits at Trinity is to believe that a change in ministers will resolve the congregation’s problems.  The hope from this meeting is that is not be the desire.  It is a habit we can no longer afford to indulge as we actively and intentionally seek a new way forward.

Bill has always been open to feedback and encourages each and every one of us to continue to provide him this such respect.

In the end all 4 members have received a follow up communication from Paul and no further action by Presbytery was recommended other than an admonition to all parties to treat each other with respect and courtesy during this challenging time.  He also urged the congregation to consider serving on a reconstituted M & P Committee as support from Paul Miller and Presbytery ended Dec 31 2018 with the restructuring of Presbytery to WOW – Western Ontario Waterways.

Helping to support Ministry & Personnel relations is an area of ministry critical to the healthy functioning of our church family.  If you are interested in considering sitting on the M & P committee please let myself or Katherine Bitzer know.   In the meantime, I encourage you from the bottom of my heart to not engage in parking lot conversation but bring your concerns to the person you have issues with or myself.  

December 23, 2018

Reported to the Congregation on December 23, by Barbara Bitzer, Coordinator of Worship and Music

Good morning. My name is Barbara Bitzer and I am the worship and music coordinator under our new governance structure. In that role the Board tasked me with finding a replacement for our Director of music, Gord Allgeier.  The position was advertised as a temporary contract position from January to June next year.

I enlisted the help of Jen Spaulding and together we interviewed several applicants, but felt that none of them were a good fit for Trinity. And then we had a brilliant idea – would any of the choral scholars be interested.  We approached two of them and I am delighted that they have said yes.  So, I am very pleased to announce that Hayden Kerry and Chris Clarke will split the responsibilities – Hayden will be the choir director and Chris the pianist beginning on January 6th.  I think you will all agree that they have shown us their skill and leadership over the past two months – especially last week. They are enthusiastic and excited to be taking on these roles and I know you will make them welcome.

December 16, 2018

Reported to the Congregation on December 16, by Lynne Green, Chair of the Transition Team

Good morning! I’m Lynne Green, Chair of the Transition Team here at Trinity. Every few weeks a Transition Team member endeavors to let you know where our work is at. We last met at the end of November. Our conversations are always rooted in Trinity’s ongoing collective voices and actions, including that which have been expressed through the feedback we gathered from the congregation last spring, the “What if” stories, the “four corners” data. The commonalities that are emerging in our words and actions are showing the Transition Team some direction in who we are, what we want to do and who we want to be:

 Currently, we are-

  • a United Church presence of open dialogue, interfaith connection and spiritual nurturing through hospitality and music

  • a central place in Kitchener where God is calling us to Ministry; a place to gather, to reset, to feel and experience God’s love and joy, discern God’s plan and then scatter into the community to live out our faith

  • a place of worship and prayer for all faiths, of pastoral care, learning and sharing

  • a place where spiritual and religious questions can be explored through music, art and dialogue

    a Church of about 200 members who have a lot of energy, varied skills and a willingness to adapt in order to offer a relevant ministry

  • mostly older

  • mostly longstanding members

  • busy! 

  • welcoming and accepting of others 

  • we value community partnerships and mission in the community, music, shared meals and hospitality

  • going to continue to meet as a worshiping community

We are not, right now-

  • going to amalgamate with another congregation nor will we disband

  • going to spend all our money right now nor are we going to give it all away

  • going to take on a big mission project; rather we will continue our smaller good works and will work towards a project or projects that inspire work in the future

Hopefully, some of this speaks to you. Do we all agree on everything? No! We are a group of rich and varied voices and ideas, so we don’t and won’t agree on all points. As always, we invite your responses. As the Transition Team meets in this latter half of our second year of transition as a Church and faith community, we will continue to hold up a metaphorical mirror in order to catch the rich and varied energies and sparks that emanate as members of our congregation gather for worship and in committees and teams.

So what are our next steps? Our Board Chairperson, Katherine, on behalf of the TT, has submitted a request to Cathy Stewart-Savage, one of our Presbytery representatives, to initiate a JNAC process. We have to do so in order to be able to post for Ministerial staff in the upcoming months. We meet next as a Transition Team on  Monday, December 17th. At that time, we will receive the report from Cathy from Credence which will summarize the data and feedback gathered from recent staff interviews that were conducted. 

We will be discussing this new data, along with all the information that we have gathered, at our first meeting of 2019, scheduled for January 12th. At that time we plan to meet for a longer block of time in order to focus on JNAC details and staff needs, leading to a draft of a posting for a new Minister.

The focus of our work from January to June, 2019, will be on staffing needs, recruitment and hiring. We will continue to work on refining and defining who we are and what we are about at Trinity United Church, including mission and service that is continuing to mold and shape. Thank you for your ongoing presence, voices, involvement and energy.