Florence Congregational Church
Thursday, February 20, 2020
A Place to Connect

June News 2016

They say that April showers bring May flowers. What’s next? Bees to pollinate. I begin looking back to  May because important things occurred early in May. Approximately half (30) of the 62 active members of  the Florence Congregational Church met on May 1st following worship for the 2016 Annual Meeting of the  church. This is the first of two regularly scheduled congregational meetings held each year. The primary  purpose of the May meeting is to review the previous year’s reports of officers, boards and committees; and  to review the financial reports of the 1st quarter of the current year. Treasurer, Doug Loux was quite frank  when he shared the details of the first quarter of 2016; his gloom and doom words creating angst and  panic. The expenses of January through March exceeded income by over $25,000.

 There were immediate responses from many attendees. Phyllis Maggiolino, the Chair of Trustees noted  that we must develop a plan to respond to the perceived crisis, “We cannot continue like this much longer.”  Others spoke of creative fundraising initiatives. Peter Flinker, the Chair of Property shared calming words  of reassurance, “We have a little time to make some changes that may help us to get on track.”

 The truth is that, unless all the members of the church take the future of Florence Church seriously, Doug’s prophecy of potential closure will come true. Every member needs to contribute and share in the work of the church. We must become more connected with the ever changing social context of Northampton. We must understand there is merit in preserving the tradition, but also a need to respond to the changing fiber of cultural diversity represented in this community.

I purposely called upon our Moderator, Keith Moors, Phyllis, Doug, and Peter following the Annual Meeting to discuss the meeting dialogue and what our response ought to be. I shared my hope to invite a colleague, Rev. Norm Erlendson to lead a workshop on traditional church ministry in the twenty-first century, with specific attention to revitalization. 

He  will address the principles behind how vital vintage (traditional) churches can retain the traditions of their history and denominational identity while bringing the practices of their congregation into the new century. This will include strategizing about change so that some of these practices might actually be implemented in the revitalization of the church.

The article, Americans Turning Away from Organized Religion in Record Numbers: What’s the future of religious institutions in the U.S.?offers stats that concur with Doug’s Annual Meeting prophecy. Rev Erlendson will share some of this information in addition to words about the challenges facing vintage churches today. According to information I have received from Rev. Erlendson, recent studies have identified six top factors in growing churches: spiritual dynamics, effective evangelism, strategic planning, excellent leadership, productive assimilation, and inspiring worship. What does this mean for us? How well are we doing? What might we need to do different to redirect our spiraling decline? Each of these factors have bearing on our work together.

I have arranged for Rev. Erlendson to lead this inspiring workshop on June 11th from 9am to noon. If you have the desire to see Florence Congregational Church survive, and maybe even thrive, make it a priority to be present for this discussion, brainstorming and purposed vision process. Yes, the future of Florence Church belongs to God’s plan; but remember you are a friend and member of this Church, thus a part of God’s plan.

π Pastor Irv

Florence Congregational Church • 130 Pine Street, Florence, Massachusetts 01062 • 413.584.1325