Joint Congregational Meeting: Summary
The Joint Congregational Meeting of the Brookfield Pastoral Charge took place on Saturday, 11 May 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in Hunter River Community Hall. There were 54 persons in attendance, together with Rev. Thomas Kay, Stated Supply and Rev. Steven Stead, Interim Moderator.
Following up on the two visioning meetings held in May 2018, the purpose of the meeting was (a) to give feedback on the events of the intervening year and attempts at renewal within the three congregations and, (b) to garner congregational input on options for moving forward by way of an “advisory vote.”
Introduction and Devotions
Rev. Kay opened the meeting with a few comments on the context of 40 years of decline and how it has impacted churches in the Presbytery of PEI. This led into a devotion based on Deuteronomy 30: 19-20 and Moses’ challenge to the Children of Israel to “choose life” as they faced the challenges and decisions that would face them as they moved into the Promised Land.
Rev. Stead then led in prayer.
Rev. Stead moderated the feedback session of the meeting while Rev. Kay took notes.
Positive feedback included the benefit of set times and weekly services at each of the three churches; easier to invite people to church when services are weekly; increased fellowship after worship (Hunter River); completion of needed renovations (Hunter River); more talking and visiting before and after worship (Brookfield).
Negative feedback included not getting to see people from the other congregations, and missing visitors from the other congregations in worship.
Asked about possible “tweaks” going forward, earlier summer worship time was mentioned for Glasgow Road, and the need to provide something for children on Sunday mornings at Hunter River.
In a more general comment, it was noted that all three congregations are and have been in a continuing state of membership decline and that it is getting harder to recruit volunteers. The load is falling increasingly on the same small group of people in each church.
Following a brief refreshment break, Rev. Kay gave a short presentation clarifying the process of amalgamation, specifically that one congregation does not subsume the others but rather that all congregations cease to exist, and a new congregation is formed with a new session, organizations, etc.
Rev. Kay then outlined the voting process as an “advisory vote” to give guidance to Session in its deliberations, and that any proposed changes to congregational status arising from those deliberations would need to be voted on by each congregation individually. The ballots were then distributed.
The ballots having been collected were then counted by one elder from each congregation in the presence of Revs. Stead and Kay.
Rev. Stead then shared the results with the meeting.
A total of 54 votes were cast with a total of 19 voting for Option 1, 6 for Option 2, and 29 for Option 3. Of those voting for Option 3, 20 voted to continue with the current weekly worship format (Option 3A), and 8 for a return to the former rotating format (Option 3B). 1 person voting for Option 3 did not give a preference.
Voting by Congregation
Brookfield Glasgow Road Hunter River TOTAL
Option #1 7 6 6 19
Option #2 1 3 2 6
Option#3 2 (A) 9 (A) 9 (A) 20
6 (B) 2 (B) 8
1 (No option) 1
TOTAL 10 25 19 54
Rev. Stead moderated discussion following the announcement which included various questions and comments from the floors such as, “where is the hope here for young families,” and concern that we have chosen a path of inevitable slow decline. On a more positive note, others asked what might yet be done to foster renewal moving forward.
The Joint Session met at Brookfield Church at 7:30 pm on Monday, 13 May to review the input from the meeting and, after considerable discussion and in light of the advisory vote, agreed to continue with Option 3(A) for one year.
Rev. Thomas J. Kay