We are a multigenerational, social justice-oriented community of joyful, imperfect people who welcome absolutely everybody with hospitality, openness and acceptance.

Odds and Ends

Friends,

This week I’m going to use my Contact space to catch up on a few odds and ends.

First, let me tell you about stewardship. Sometime in the next week, members and friends of Montclair Presbyterian Church will be getting a stewardship letter from the church, and by “stewardship” we mean “fundraising.” Each year the church reaches out to its members and friends asking for an annual pledge of financial support, and we do this for two reasons. First, like all not-for-profit organizations, Montclair Presbyterian Church survives thanks to the generosity of its members. We earn some money through rental income, and a small amount through investments, but an overwhelming portion of our financial needs are met though contributions from church members and friends.

The other reason we ask for pledges is so that we can set a reasonable and responsible budget. With so large a portion of our budget coming from contributions, it can be hard to set a budget unless we have some idea of what might be coming in. Your pledge is not like a promissory note; it’s not a legal commitment, and people change their pledges all the time when financial situations change. The pledge is a tool that helps the church’s leadership to do a better job.  So three cheers for pledging!

Second, the bridge. After celebration last Sunday, we had a good meeting at which we discussed the future of the structure that crosses Temescal creek and leads to the front door of our sanctuary. The bridge’s undercarriage is rotting, which means we need either to fix the bridge or remove it, and if we remove the bridge we ether need to replace it or do something new with the bit of creek that flows in front of our church. The folks gathered at the meeting took a straw poll, and the will of that group seemed clear: we will remove the bridge and then, once the bridge is removed, we’ll dream together about what will come next.

At its meeting on Tuesday the session approved a motion that was in line with the will of the folks who gathered to talk about the bridge and on May 14 after celebration we will have an official congregational meeting to ratify the session’s action.

Third, our leadership retreat. A few weeks back, the session held its annual retreat, only this year we invited anyone interested in church leadership to show up and to participate in the retreat. We had forty people, which was amazing. At the retreat we talked about our congregation’s vision, and we wrote ideas down on big pieces of butcher paper, which now reside in my office. Participants in the retreat had a lot of things to say about MPC, but if I could summarize the general feeling of the group it might go something like this: “we are a faith community of spiritual, passionate, intellectually curious, artistic, and sometimes quirky people who value social justice and the beautiful diversity of the human community. We are energized by our questions and we want very much to reach out in meaningful ways to the communities around us.” We are imperfect, and the group was honest about our struggles and challenges, but even so, I came away from our retreat feeling really good about Montclair Presbyterian Church, and I am excited to be part of our congregation as it lives into the future.

Finally (but not less important) if you like to dance, please join me and Anne on Saturday evening, May 6 and 7:30 in the family room as we dance in celebration of Anne’s Significant Birthday (a number that rhymes with “nifty”). If you don’t like to dance, don’t let that stop you. We’ll have drink and munchies for everyone.

Now onward through the week!

God’s Peace,

Ben