Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25
It really is a challenge belonging to a faith community. The world is such a different place, even from the one in which I grew up. The costs alone for maintaining a building are phenomenal. The challenges for so many Churches is to balance the needs of Ministry with available resources. Too many Churches close and when they do, there is a gap in services in that area. Even when Churches have sold off their buildings, they are not always successful in maintaining and growing a long term Ministry.
There has been a worshipping community in West Kildonan for more than 100 years. What is now the Kildonan United Church, started life in a barber shop on Main Street; there is a picture of the shop in the lounge. We worship in the “new” Church building and use the “old” building as part of our Fellowship Halls. The new Church was built in the mid 1950s because the old building was no longer large enough. Perhaps we will go full circle and end up back in a barber shop.
What is missed so often is that the dynamic of Ministry, of those we serve, has changed over the past few decades. The Church serves different needs and, whether we like it or not, we compete increasingly with other community organisations. While costs go up, our income is not keeping pace. At one time, the Church could balance its budget through canvassing members. That is no longer the case. When we put on special events to raise funds, the UCW bazaar, the Yard Sale, etc, it does not matter how many items we have for sale, the income stays remarkably the same. People have less disposable income. That is a reality.
If the Kildonan United Church building were not here, a community space would be lost. This would mean all the addiction groups, PACE, SPARKS, and numerous other community organisations, would lose gathering space. We could continue as a worshipping community, but the community Church would be lost. At the same time, we can’t keep going back to our members, young and old, for financial help. Many of the members of this Church are giving all they can give. So, if the building is important, and if we regard it as a resource to support our Ministry, we need to be more creative in finding ways to pay our bills.
In the time I have been the Minister at the Kildonan United Church, we have not been sitting back and waiting for a grand prize to fall in our laps. We are negotiating a space rental with another Church. We have talked to a day care, but have run into problems with the lack of funding for day cares in this economic climate. We are reaching out constantly looking for potential renters. Even if some of these rentals come to fruition, we will remain in debt. This is where the creativity needs to come into play.
Realistically, we need to raise approximately $2,000 a month in fund raising. To get the ball rolling, I am proposing three events that will take place in the first part of the New Year. In January, we will have a seating limited supper: fresh pasta, served with sauce, bread, salad and dessert, accompanied by a bottle of wine. Bring the love of your life, or a good friend, and enjoy a pleasant, relaxed evening. In February, we will host a wine and cheese party. In March or April, I hope to have up and running the West Kildonan/Kildonan United Church Community Theatre. I see these as all being fund raisers which could, if we get behind and support these initiatives, raise significant monies to help maintain this building.
I realise that some people will have a hard time with these initiatives. We are not comfortable with a Church serving wine, but we do allow socials to do so. For myself, apart from the community theatre, I would prefer not to have to engage in this sort of fund raising; but needs are dictating thinking outside the box. I am also looking at events which are still community spirited. A meal is a social event. Wine and cheese is social as well. Community theatre offers cheap and good entertainment for people who would not be able to afford a ticket to the Manitoba Theatre Company. If we see the building as a resource for Ministry, then we need to consider alternative ways to pay our bills. I would encourage others to come up with their ideas of events that can be fun and also fund raisers.
There is no magic wand. Our fund raising has to reach into the community and offer events which attract people whether or not they wish to worship on a Friday evening or Sunday morning. This is where the members of the Church can step in. A small handful of us cannot do all the cooking, selling of tickets, etc that is required. We need members of this Church to sell event tickets to friends, work colleagues, neighbours and so on. I’ll use the Community Theatre as an example. There is no reason we cannot put on 4 or 5 performances of any play. It will cost $100 to stage each performance and then a little more to advertise and pay for the play books. Surely we could sell 100 tickets for 4 or 5 evenings? There is no community theatre in this part of the city.
Please give this some thought and prayer, and share your thoughts.
Yours in Christ,