Running to Keep Up with God

The Rector’s Report by Father Bill Danaher

Giving all glory to God, and with gratitude for our remarkable clergy, staff, and lay leaders, I am delighted to say that 2019 has been one of the most significant years yet in the history of Christ Church Cranbrook.

 

Realizing Our Vision

We began preparing for this year in 2017, when the Vestry approved a three-year strategic plan entitled, From Our Founding to Our Future. Its purpose was to channel the energy and growth into what we were experiencing as a congregation. A wide cross-section of leaders – clergy, staff, and parishioners – participated in the planning process. The vision we articulated was bold. The priorities we named were pressing. The goals and tactics we developed to hold us accountable were clear.

However, what is most surprising is that the plan was implemented! We have achieved nearly all of what we hoped to achieve one year ahead of schedule. What follows is a recap of what we, through God’s help, have done.

Vision: Included in our plan was a reworking of our vision – that we would be a church where we meet Jesus, find Joy, share Beauty, and serve Others. In every way, this vision informed all we did, and it continues to inform our preaching, pastoral care, programs, and worship.

Engagement: At the forefront of our priorities was engagement – we wanted to create opportunities for our parishioners to come to church regularly, participate in meaningful ministries, and experience more of the spiritual blessings that come from being in Christian community.

In every respect, engagement has increased. Our attendance remains healthy – roughly 500 people attend services each weekend.  More than 35,000 people participated in weekly programs at the church over the past year. We have incorporated new members quickly, giving them opportunities to serve and contribute immediately. Finally, we have offered new ministries that bring people together for fellowship, learning, service, and transformation have flourished.

All of these indicators reflect how we continue to thrive in spite of many longstanding and beloved members of our community have passed away. In contrast to many Episcopal Churches, we are becoming younger. That is to say, of our 1,658 members, only 200 are listed in our database as older than 75.

Communications: In terms of communications, much of our office work has become largely paperless, which allows us to plan events, schedule meetings, and meet the pastoral needs of our congregation more efficiently.

In 2019, we shifted to a new data management platform, REALM, which now provides us with a more accessible and precise member database. We rebuilt our website so that it is more user and visitor friendly. We reinforced our social media channels to strategically promote our events and sermons. We upgraded our sound system, which improves the quality of our worship, performances, and live-stream feed – each of which are drawing more and more participants and viewers.

Development: The most ambitious priority we set for ourselves in 2017 was to develop a campus plan that could accommodate our growing programmatic needs. We recognized that we needed to raise support that would enable us to expand our columbarium, which was running out of space, and replace the organ we had in St. Dunstan’s, which had been inoperable for several years.

The largest need was to increase our multipurpose space and to add classrooms and meeting areas so that there was enough space for Little Lambs early childhood education center as well as our growing programs in children, youth, and adult education. After surveying and listening to the congregation, we articulated a plan to renovate our program center, which has been largely unchanged since it was built in 1938.

Working with a consultant and architects, we embarked on a capital campaign with a goal of raising $8 million. This money would provide us with not only the money needed to renovate the Program Center, but also to address issues in our Sanctuary concerning the organ, accessibility, and  handicapped parking near the entrances to the church.

To our utter delight, we have been able to raise $8.5 million in pledges and $2.1 million in planned giving, which has allowed us to take the next step in our planned renovation. (More about the most recent Capital Campaign and our next steps is provided at the end of this report)

Taken together with two focused capital campaigns for the columbarium expansion ($350k) and the St. Dunstan’s organ ($300k), we have been able to raise more than $11.25 million to position our church for the future. This represents the largest capital campaign in the history of Christ Church Cranbrook. I am deeply grateful to everyone who supported the work of these capital campaigns by giving so much of their time, talent, and treasure.

 

Walking Faithfully

As grateful as we all are for what God has empowered us to do, the nexus of priorities we named in our Strategic Plan of engagement, communications, and development will continue to challenge churches like ours for the foreseeable future, as patterns of believing and belonging change. However, we now have reached a vital pivot point.

Much of our work these past three years was motivated by the need to take advantage of new and unexpected growth. We were running to keep up with who God was calling us to be. However, now we are entering a phase when we need to transform the activities that have enabled our success into Spirit-led everyday practices.

Together, we will cultivate the relational and structural soil of our congregation by making these three practices the primary planting we do, day in and day out.

 

My Personal Commitment in 2020

Having worked for the past five years with urgency, I believe that God has called me to explore new terrain within myself as your Rector. As some of you know, I have spent the past year completing the Ignatian Exercises and getting some excellent counseling. I therefore feel called to lead in new ways.

Acknowledging my unshakable need, and placing my whole trust in an unshakable God, in 2020 I resolve as your Rector to:

Lean upon Love

Let Grace Guide Me

Accept the Blessing of Vulnerability

Witness to the Beauty in Brokenness

Honor Everyone as God’s Beloved

Lift up Lost Voices

Walk with Gentleness

This means that God is calling me to lead this wonderful congregation with renewed patience, deliberation, and humility as we take each step forward together. I welcome your prayers and support.

Finally, let me express how grateful I am to be part of this wonderful church. I am a better Christian because of my wise and wonderful clergy colleagues, my brilliant and dedicated staff, and so many of you, who are living reminders that we find in Christ new fathers, mothers, siblings and children. For the love of Christ that binds us together and the grace that carries us through each day, I give thanks.

Blessings,

Fr. Bill