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St. Matthew’s United Church - eBulletin June 14, 2011

St. Matthew’s Calendar
Great Banner Send-off June 18
Congregational lunch and important meeting this Sunday
Kudos to ....
Women’s Breakfast and Silver Polishing June 25
Church Guide position
Congregational Workshop June 26
Report from Maritime Conference
Appendix 1. Backgrounder for June 26: JNAC Report Summary
Appendix 2. Backgrounder for June 26: Vision Statements

St. Matthew’s Calendar
• June 18, 11 am – Great banner send-off Cornwallis Park
• June 19, 10:30 am – Communion service
• June 19, noon – Annual Congregational Meeting after worship
• June 25, 8:30 am – Women’s Breakfast and Silver Polishing Party (10 am)
• June 26, noon – Congregational workshop with Rev. Hal and Rev. Karen Llewellyn

Great Banner Send-off June 18
Hope Toumishey, Helga Mills, Anne Marie Dalton and Margaret Sagar of St. Matthew’s have prepared a banner to send to Ottawa in support of KAIROS’ action for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our banner will be sent by train to Ottawa to join others in a national demonstration. The banner send-off will be Saturday, June 18 at 11 am at Cornwallis Park at which time KAIROS supporters will lament past policies, actions and injustices towards indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world, and pray for a new beginning.

Congregational lunch and important meeting this Sunday
Plan to attend an important congregational meeting this Sunday, June 19 after church. Lunch will be provided. The Transition Search Committee will make its report on the appointment of a transitional minister for St. Matthew’s, and the church budget for 2011–12 will be presented.

Kudos to ....
1. Hilary Wellard, a member of St. Matthew’s all her life, who celebrates a very special birthday on June 17. We will enjoy birthday festivities with Hilary this Sunday during the congregational lunch, celebrating with one of Sue Kent’s famous cakes.
2. Katie Waller, who received the John Messenger Prize for Grade 5 at Halifax Grammar School in recognition of her embodiment of the school’s values and her contribution to the overall life of the school in academics, athletics, the arts, and community service.
3. Sunday School volunteers Lyn Waller, Laura Stiles-Clarke, Anne Fay, Craig Reiner, Gayle Reiner, Fred Donaldson, Sandi Chase-Caron, Donna Trafford, Shannon Black, Mike Moors, Ken Moors, and especially Kim Moors, who made the Sunday School year such a success. Anyone who would like to contribute to the Sunday School (teaching, assisting, planning, other) in the fall should contact Laura Stiles-Clarke, lstilesclarke@ns.sympatico.ca

Women's Breakfast and Silver Polishing June 25
All women in the congregation and friends are invited to share breakfast at Smitty's (corner Spring Garden and Martello/Tower Road) Saturday, June 25 at 8:30 am. Right afterward, at 10 am, there will be a Silver Polishing Party at the church to make the church’s silver artifacts beautiful for their History Corner photos. A few more volunteers would be wonderful: "Many hands make light work." Please contact Cheryl, 492-8041 or cherylf@bellaliant.net if you are able to help with the polishing.

Church Guide at St. Matt’s
St. Matthew’s will be hiring a church guide so that our historic building will be open to guests and tourists during the summer. Candidates must be students anticipating full-time education in fall 2011. Employment is July 1 to September 1, 30 hours per week at $10.50 per hour. Applications/resumés should be send to Rev. Betsy Hogan at stmatts.betsy@ns.sympatico.ca or by mail at St. Matthew’s United Church, 1479 Barrington Street, Halifax, B3J 1Z2.

Congregational workshop June 26
St. Matthew's will have a vibrant future in downtown Halifax, but what exactly will it look like? How can we start to move into the Vision we have created? Everyone is invited to participate in a workshop about how we will begin our journey of Transition, after the service on June 26. In preparation for the workshop, please ensure that you have read and are familiar with the Vision 260/JNAC report or the Executive Summary of the report, and reviewed the six Vision statements. The Executive Summary and Vision statements are at the end of this email.

Report from Maritime Conference

At the end of May the clergy and representatives of congregations in the three Maritime Provinces, Gaspésie and the Synod of Bermuda met at Mount Allison University for the annual meeting of Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada. Conference activity included:
§ approving a proposal to demand attentiveness to the environmental impact of harvesting the Alberta tar sands
§ approving implicitly, by referring to Executive, a proposal demanding the restoration of KAIROS funding from the federal government
§ confirming, after a long and intense debate, a decision to end chaplaincies at the regional hospitals in Halifax and Saint John
§ learning about the construction of a new Conference Office and Archives building and a capital campaign to support this endeavor
§ ordaining six new ministers, including Alison Etter who was a student at St. Matthew’s;
§ welcoming Rev. Jane Johnson as incoming president
§ electing Rev. Phillip Kennedy as president-designate.

Appendix 1. Backgrounder for June 26: JNAC Report Summary
The Committee has completed a Vision process and a Joint Needs Assessment process.

In Part 1, this report summarizes the Vision work in a new proposed Vision which supports the existing Mission of St. Matthew’s, and takes into account the need to change how we do things as much or more than changing what we do. Our future only exists at St. Matthew’s if we are able to combine our Mission and Vision with clear goals based on sustainability in the broadest terms and whose progress we will measure at each step of the way.

The Vision report includes information to allow the Official Board, the committees of the Board and the individual members of St. Matthew’s, to begin implementation work straight away. A key aspect of the Vision and the recommendations from the Vision process is related to creating a performance-based organization. St. Matthew’s cannot afford to spend scarce human and financial resources in work that does not get us closer to achieving our Vision. We have a lot of work to do. One of our first challenges is making sure we are clear about what we need to do, how we will do it, who will work on each piece, how long it should take and what it will look like when we have achieved our goals.

In Part II, the Joint Needs Assessment Report is the summary of the work undertaken by the Committee to discern the Ministry needs of the pastoral charge, based on the proposed Vision in the preceding section.

St. Matthew’s faces, out of absolute necessity, major changes to survive in downtown Halifax. These changes require a significant expansion of lay leadership and equally significant changes in the skills needed for our Ministerial leadership to pursue its new Vision and move forward in a new and sustainable direction.

Therefore, it is not in any way due to an unhappiness or displeasure with our present Ministers that we seek a change in our pastoral relations. Our journey requires different, not necessarily better, leadership. We acknowledge the devotion, caring and skills of both Dr. Bartlett and Rev. Hogan.

Achieving the proposed Vision will require us to do much work and will require us to become sustainable again. To do this we need to examine everything we do against the Vision and Mission. It will take several years to achieve financial viability and likely even longer to match our services and programs to what we want to achieve and the resources we have available. During this time, the Committee has concluded that we must not only learn to live within our means; we will also need a very specific type of Ministry support for a defined term to bring us through this transition to the point where we are on a sustainable path and can consider a permanent Call again.

The detailed Vision and JNAC recommendations represent the best that the Committee can offer to the congregation of St. Matthew’s to achieve the Vision we heard from you. A summary of all of the recommendations follow, however readers are encouraged to review the complete recommendations on pages 22 -24 (Vision) and page 36 (JNAC).
Recommendation Summary Combined Vision and JNAC Recommendations


1. That the congregation accept the Proposed Vision for St. Matthew’s United Church (Part 1 Section 3 and Appendix 7)

2. That the congregation accept the Goals and Objectives related to the Proposed Vision as the starting point for implementation of the Vision (Appendix 7), and
• Request that the Publicity Committee take on the role of communication support within the congregation on the progress of the implementation of the Vision.

3. That the congregation approve the Basic Financial Principles (Page 14) as the basis for developing future financial plans and budgets (Appendix 5), and
• Assign the development of the actual 5 year financial plan to the Committee of Stewards and the Board of Trustees.

4. That the congregation create a single task committee to work with the Official Board and Clergy and to provide direct support to the implementation of the Vision.


5. That in order to implement and achieve the proposed Vision, the congregation approve the proposed Ministry model, skills profile, job description and terms and conditions outlined in Part II Section 2 pages 31 through 35 and in the JNAC Recommendations above.

6. That our Ministers, Dr. Bartlett and Rev. Hogan and their Ministry at St. Matthew’s be formally celebrated by the congregation of St. Matthew’s United Church.

7. That the Vision 260 / JNAC be disbanded.


8. That if the congregation wishes to reject the main Vision 260 / JNAC recommendations (one through five), that the congregation consider and accept the following alternative:

After considered thought, discussion, prayer and discernment – the Vision 260/JNAC asserts that the only reasonable alternative to accepting the above recommendations, which we believe are required to achieve a sustainable St. Matthew’s, is to take the appropriate steps now to close St. Matthew’s United Church. In the absence of creating the sustainable church outlined in the proposed Vision, this outcome is inevitable. A planned closure and distribution of assets is far more likely to result in St. Matthew’s remaining assets being used for the betterment of the community than for our own, likely doomed, attempt at survival.

Appendix 2. Backgrounder for June 26: Vision Statements

Section 3. Vision for the future of St. Matthew’s United Church

A Vision can function like seeds which, once planted, germinate and grow into the harvestable outcomes in the form of programmes, directions and activities that nourish and renew the Christian community of St. Matthew’s United Church. This Vision incorporates and builds upon the Mission which preceded it. At the same time, it invites the Christian community of St. Matthews to consider how to live and work together in hope.

This is our new Vision

1. St. Matthew’s will continue to be a Christian community of faith worshipping God in downtown Halifax;
2. St. Matthew’s will be a community nurturing and caring for each other in our spiritual growth;
3. St. Matthew’s will commit to spiritual, financial, and environmental sustainability;
4. St. Matthew’s will be an advocate and a partner in the work of social justice;
5. St. Matthew’s will be a ‘sanctuary’ for the arts: enriching faith, enlivening worship and celebrating creativity;
6. St. Matthew’s will engage and mobilize its people to live out this Vision.

1. St. Matthew’s will continue to be a Christian community of faith worshipping God in downtown Halifax;

Early in its deliberations the Vision 260/JNAC committee considered a range of options from closure, to moving elsewhere, to reconsidering amalgamation with other congregations. In the face of the widespread national, indeed international, pattern of churches closing as membership ages or leaves behind church involvement, it is perhaps our most important recommendation that St. Matthew’s remain a worshipping community in downtown Halifax. To remain where we are is a courageous choice requiring as its most important implication that we try to find strategic new ways to be a church in the downtown. It is a Vision that requires change – we cannot stay as we are.
We must redevelop our site and our building both inside and out.
We have to determine what purposes and programmes and funding sources can make it possible for St. Matthew’s to be a living church in the Halifax downtown.

2. St. Matthew’s will be a community nurturing and caring for each other in our spiritual growth;

St. Matthew’s is not just an historic building in downtown Halifax. It is and aspires to remain a church community. Our Vision recommends that we plan intentionally to re-invigorate our church community through individual and collective efforts to learn and grow in the Christian spiritual life. This implies more than Sunday worship. Our aspiration is to grow as a church known for caring for one another (as opposed to the old model where the Minister is expected to care for everyone); for learning how to live the spiritual life; for working together to create new life for our community.

3. St. Matthew’s will commit to spiritual, financial, and environmental sustainability;

In order to fulfill our Vision on Barrington Street, St. Matthew’s must confess that many of its historic habits are unsustainable. Each member must become a doer – a vehicle for action no matter what the role and no matter how small a piece they are able to offer at any time. We cannot lean so heavily on those we Call and employ to fulfill our Vision. We must live the Vision if we are to call it our own. This is a spiritual commitment requiring that we collectively discern what we can contribute in time and talents to create a viable church. We must build annual budgets based on the premise that our operating revenue will cover our operating costs. The Endowment funds, those gifts from those who have gone before us, must only be used when we are confident that we can make strategic investments that support the Vision. We must comprehensively assess our historic building and determine whether it can be re-developed as an environmentally and financially sustainable structure. A commitment to sustainability in all aspects of church life is an ethical expression of a future Vision for St. Matthew’s United Church.

4. St. Matthew’s will be an advocate and a partner in the work of social justice;

St. Matthew’s has a long history as an advocate and a partner in the work of social justice. St. Matthew’s United Church: A Sentinel on the Street is our history and it documents the many different forms of social justice work as expressions of the Christian life and commitment of its members from 1749 to 2010. From its roots as a dissenting church to its commitment to the breakfast programme on Sundays, to housing the In-from-the-Cold programme this past winter, to its support for the Brunswick Street Mission, there is a wealth of evidence of a commitment to social justice. Here too, however, there is work required to re-imagine the meaning of social justice in our time for downtown Halifax and beyond. How can we be the best possible advocate for the homeless, the mentally ill, the imprisoned, and the marginalized? A critical component of advocacy for social justice is to develop and sustain partnerships to achieve goals for social justice locally, nationally and internationally. Social justice work must be integral to the on-going discernment of the Christian life for our congregation, for United Churches, for ecumenical commitments and for innovation with our multi-faith communities.

5. St. Matthew’s will be a ‘sanctuary’ for the arts: enriching faith, enlivening worship and celebrating creativity;

Since the interior renovation of the sanctuary, St. Matthew’s has developed a strong reputation for its encouragement of and support for the arts. In musicals, concerts and dramas St. Matthew’s has been a site for presentation of the arts in Halifax. The church is a rehearsal home for the Chebucto Orchestra, ballet, Samba Nova and circus groups. This Vision recommends that we continue and enhance these commitments such that we see our church community as a ‘sanctuary’ for the cultivation of the arts, so that we enrich our faith; enliven our worship and celebrate creativity. Our aspiration is that St. Matthew’s be, in its worship, in its cultivation of the Christian spiritual life, in its commitment to a vibrant downtown, a ‘sanctuary’ for the Arts.

6. St. Matthew’s will engage and mobilize its people to live out this Vision.

Implementation of the proposed Vision for a new St. Matthew’s United Church invites the congregation to join together in a renewal process requiring individual and collective gifts of energy, time, money and focus. The proposed Vision means we will initially enter prayerfully into a three year transition, in which we set new goals, determine objectives for those goals and determine the strategies required to achieve them. Each and every person is needed in the renewal of the church. As we come to see ourselves anew as gifted followers of Jesus Christ, we can aspire together to be a Christian community about whom it is said, “See, how the Christians love one another.” (Tertullian)

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; And on My servants and on My handmaidens, I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; And they shall prophesy. Acts 2:17-18

A visioning exercise from the initial survey to its consideration by a congregation is a process, but more deeply, an act of faith. Your Vision 260/JNAC committee have worked and prayed on the question of how St. Matthew’s could be a church of Jesus Christ now and into the foreseeable future. The whole congregation has prayed for the work of the committee. It is in humility that the Vision 260/JNAC proposes this Vision for we have to understand that we might have it wrong.

An authentic Vision, or prophesy, or dream, aspires to be understood as a gift of the Spirit. That understanding must be tested by its community. In the tradition of Protestant churches, the whole congregation must consider what has been proposed and collectively discern whether or not it sees the proposed Vision truly as a gift of the Spirit. Such discernment on the part of the congregation recognizes that no amount of hard work, thought and good intention can make these or any recommendations into God’s will for St. Matthew’s. It is the whole church, the whole St. Matthew’s community that must see the Vision as authentically a gift of the Holy Spirit and then choose to live it in hope and faith.

Church office: stmatts@ns.sympatico.ca , 423-9209
Pastoral care: Rev. Betsy Hogan, 423-9209
Sunday worship: 10:30 am
Choir rehearsals: We’re on summer holiday, but in September we will meet on Thursdays, Handbell Choir at 6:15 pm and Senior Choir at 7:30 pm

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