St. Nicholas 2011 Annual Report


Please read the report BEFORE the annual meeting (THIS SUNDAY, JANUARY 8, 2011) at 10:00 am.  If you have any questions we will address them at the meeting.

Rector’s Report

Grace and peace! I am happy to report that 2011 was St. Nicholas’ most successful year in terms of growth. It was a really great year, and I am so grateful for the hard work and faithfulness of the Vestry and members of the congregation.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Our average Sunday attendance (ASA) is as follows:

8:30 service:  in 2010: 20 ;   in 2011: 19

11:00 service:  in 2010: 63in 2011: 69

Total attendance: in 2010: 80 ; in 2011: 91

Don’t worry if these numbers don’t total correctly. We only had 35 8:30 services and 36 11:00 services. The total number includes every Sunday and Christmas Eve.

To give you an idea of our attendance growth over the last 5 years:

2007- 62

Well done, St. Nicholas!!!

We had 2 baptisms (Ella Jude Townsend, daughter of Kenny and Terri Townsend, and Isaiah James Emmons, grandson of Kathryn and James Genova).

We had 7 receptions (Bill Caudill, Cora Coverson, Ona Graham, Ralph Graham, Carolyn Jacik, Judy Jacik, and Heather Roper) at St. Nicholas on June 19 by Bishop Keith Whitmore.

We had 1 wedding at St. Nicholas (Jason Augenbach and Katy Gustashaw).

We had 4 funerals, 3 at St. Nicholas (Cason Callaway, Clyde Moody, and James Stokes) and 1 at the Cunningham Center at CSU (Joe Kuechenmeister). We also mourn the passing of Anne Tutt Kalinin, a founding member of St. Nicholas who died this past month, and whose funeral was in Atlanta.

We welcomed 10 people who transferred their letter of membership: Edi Arnst McGrew, Mallon Faircloth, Kaye Faircloth, Don Baldwin, Amy Nerone, Kat Nerone, Scott Crowley, Rebecca Crowley, Mark Kurtz, and Karen Kurtz.

We had 5 members transfer their letter of membership: Elaine Correnti, Debroah Mills, David Mills, Derek Mills, and Drew Mills.

We also wished a farewell to some regular attendees who moved away: Hal and Donna Armstrong, Adam, Alicia, Rylie, Emma, and Adam Brumley, Jon and Terry Lyn Noonan, Jamie Lyn and Davis Yarbrough.

Overall, we have 111 regularly attending members. We have 60 regular attendees who are not yet members. We have 53 members on the books who have not transferred and do not attend regularly. This all totals 224 people who are connected to the St. Nicholas family, up from 184 last year.

We also have 58 pledging households, which is an increase from 44 last year. You will see how much of this makes up our budget below.

So much has happened in the last year, and I think it bears mentioning some of the highlights of all that God has done through the hard work of our parishioners.

A full and diverse Adult Formation Class each Sunday with topics ranging from Johnny Cash to Heaven & Hell.

An active Episcopal 101 class, with many new faces joining the class.

The Summer Chapel Band returning from Highlands, North Carolina for another “Bluegrass Mass.”

The Strategic Planning Committee interviewing and choosing Hank Houser to be our architect, who then produced an exciting vision of our future building projects based on feedback from the congregation.

The Men’s Group of St. Nicholas is up and running, with lots of great gatherings throughout the year, including painting the outside of the church and cleaning up the property after the November tornado.

A Pastoral Care Committee has been organized and is writing cards, taking food, and making prayer blankets to people who need them.

We hired a new Administrative Assistant, Katie Linney, which has been a tremendous amount of help to me, allowing me more freedom to make pastoral visits with parishioners.

We had our most successful Lobsterfest yet, raising over $20,000 and having a great time doing it!

We had our first Consecration Sunday event which yielded an increase in our pledges and the number of pledges.

We had our largest choir ever at Lessons and Carols with 21 singers!

Our attendance and membership numbers continue to grow!

This year has been difficult in some ways too, as we’ve buried more people this year than in my previous two years. However, the outpouring of our congregation, especially during the funerals of Cason Callaway, Clyde Moody, and James Stokes, was really phenomenal. My own grandmother passed away as well this year, so in many ways, it was a year of more funerals than I would like. Also, we had a tremendous tornado come through Hamilton on November 16, which spared our building and people, but took out a lot of trees on the property.

Our bishop, the Right Reverend J. Neil Alexander announced his resignation and I was elected by the Convocation to serve on the Search Committee, which has been a ton of work, but I think it’s been rewarding. My job on that committee is done mid-February, and the election is June 2, 2012.

Personally, this has been a wonderful year for my family and me, as in April, we welcomed the 4th Jackson child, Grey Lachlan, into the world! Tai and I got to spend a weekend together at Camp Mikell for Mini-Camp, then went on a road trip to Tennessee to visit family. We spent a great week at the beach this summer with friends from New York. Molly and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary on a trip to Berry College, where we met.

I also served a week at Camp Mikell as one of the Deans of Junior Camp which was a tremendous amount of fun. Molly and the kids got to come with me for the week. I also went camping with a friend of mine at Cumberland Island, which was great.

So it’s been a busy and productive year. As I look forward to 2012, I am hopeful for a few things:

Starting on a new building project, which will include a capital campaign. The Strategic Planning Committee is already working on plans to obtain a consultant to help us with this project. I hope that by this time next year, we will be in the midst of building.

Spending time with the Vestry on retreat in April developing a long-range plan to continue the good work that has been accomplished this year.

Continuing the growth we’ve experienced this year and inviting more people to God’s table at St. Nicholas.

Continuing to be out in the community for support and getting St. Nicholas’ name out there.

Developing more relationships among the congregation and being a pastor to those who are in need.

The other day, I was in a restaurant in Pine Mountain and ran into 5 or 6 people who I knew, but were not members of St. Nicholas. This helps me know that St. Nicholas is known in the community, and for that, I am grateful.

I am mostly grateful for YOU. The support and love I feel from St. Nicholas is overwhelming. As the hymn says, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place.” That spirit is the Holy Spirit dwelling within the hearts of each person who walks into the doors of this church. I want to give special thanks to my Senior Warden, Dave Halmrast, who is a constant source of support and care for the Rector. I also want to give special thanks to the Junior Warden, Michelle Moody, who served faithfully despite a number of personal tragedies. I also give thanks to Drucye Robinson, Chris Butzon, and Larry Nordin who have served on the Vestry, as well as the rest of the Vestry who have been incredible this year. No Vestry works harder and accomplishes more than this one. I also give a big thanks to my staff–Sam Roney, Dorothy Webster, and Katie Linney–who all have worked so hard for the church, in many ways that go unnoticed. There are many others who deserve thanks, but for now, I will just say thank you to everyone. Your presence in this place makes it special, holy, and a joy.


Music, Sam Roney:

Summary of Worship and Music for 2011 Annual Report

2011 has been an amazing year of growth in the choir ministry, a year for diversified music in worship and a year of abundant blessings in my ministry at St. Nicholas Church. New ideas were explored and then implemented in worship. Our choir and congregation have made St. Nicholas known for the church with a singing congregation, a choir that leads with spirit, a place where music is enjoyed by all who visit, and music has become a vital part of the overall growth of the church.

I have the privilege to facilitate many areas of the entire music ministry program. However, God has moved in all of us as we seek his will and engage his call to serve at St. Nicholas Church. Not only has the choir ministry grown musically but has also engaged in a new facet of spirituality which evolved through God’s amazing grace, Christian love shared in our group, and amazing sermons we get hear weekly. These sermons topics often carry through our rehearsals as we meet weekly.

The choir has worked very hard this year and as you heard, especially during Advent/Christmas 2011, it has a new sound and certainly a new spirit! These new aspects have come through faithful service in preparation of music, willing hearts, and a true love for music and their church. Thanks be to God for what he has done in molding a new ministry to facilitate the needs of our hearts, our overall worship, and the ability to reach souls amongst those in the seats and pews of our church. Sharing God’s word through song has been big part of our commitment to enhance our overall ministry of St. Nicholas Church.

Once again we were faced with a wonderful problem during Advent/Christmas; not enough choir vestments for our singers. Fortunately, God easily provided loaners for us to make it through Lessons & Carols and Christmas Eve services.

The choir did an amazing job in our 2011 Lessons & Carols Service; 20 singers! That was so awesome to hear the beautiful music soar throughout the church that night. God has truly blessed us with an amazing choir this year. Our Easter services were also exciting with wonderful choir, instrumental, and organ music on this celebration Sunday.

In reflecting on 2011 I can’t help but to think about the diversity of music we were able to experience in our services this year. Never have I used or facilitated such a variety of musical styles in a liturgical church. Fr. Jeff and I have often discussed this new diversity in keeping our worship new, refreshing, and meaningful for our church family. I am so thankful that I get to work with such a musical and sensitive rector who really understands and cares about the music ministry of the church.

I would like to express my sincerest appreciation and thanks to St. Nicholas Church for their support of the music ministry of the church, their care and concern during my time of personal illness this year, and for being the wonderful church they are; a loving congregation! Thanks be to God.

2011 Music Ministry Statistics:

1st semester-

Average attendance– 6-10; rehearsals & services

Holy Week/ Easter 2011

Holy Week- Choir sang in our Maundy Thursday Service. Special music was provided

Easter Sunday- Choir attendance- 14-15; rehearsals & services

The choir voted to continue to sing in Sunday morning services during the summer service schedule change. They requested to discontinue Wednesday night rehearsals and add a Sunday morning rehearsal prior to our one 10:00 am service during in June & July. We are most grateful for their faithful service in leading our year round worship music.

2nd Semester-

St. Nicholas choir resumed rehearsals when school started back in August. A noted drop in choir attendance occurred during August and early September. Many choir members were still traveling and had not returned to their regular schedules. Fortunately we had a major turnaround of attendance in both rehearsals and services by the end of September.

Attendance continued to grow throughout the year as we now have new families in our church. We are so grateful for this new growth and are so happy for their interest and wonderful support in our choir ministry.

Choir attendance-

October/November December- average 8-12; rehearsals & services

December- average attendance- 12-15 during early Advent

Lessons & Carols Service- 20; 17 being St. Nicholas affiliation; 3 guest singers

Christmas Eve- 10:30pm only –12 (singing in parts)

Musicians, soloists, and guest singers were featured throughout the year. Trumpeters were used in our Easter and Lessons & Carols services.

Outreach, Connie Blackmon

The 2011 St. Nicholas Outreach Ministry began with the MLK Day Parade and a collaborative entry with the Christian Valley Church. In addition Christian Valley provided one of our Lenten Series programs on worship music.

In February members of St. Nicholas sponsored a table at Puttin’ on the Dog, the main fundraiser of the Humane Society of Harris County (HSHC). Then in the fall HSHC held a microchip clinic as part of St. Nicholas’ Blessing of the Animals.

In April several members helped staff the Big Book Sale of the Friends of Harris County Public Libraries. The sale raises money for special acquisitions and programs at our libraries and helps fund the free book program of the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy in Harris County.

For several years a major Outreach event for St. Nicholas has been Relay for Life. This year’s activities included a silent auction of special Easter baskets, promotion of Luminaries and Survivor Sunday. We held a barbecue and bake sale during Relay for Life but this year there were two or more similar offerings and sales were down. In 2012 under the leadership of our new team captain Rebecca Crowley, we will explore ways to revitalize our participation.

In the spring we held a work day at Zion Church in Talbotton in cooperation with the Diocese of Atlanta. The next work day is planned for March 31, 2012.

Several of our parishioners continue to provide the core leadership and staffing for FOCUS. Once a month the loose offering is donated to FOCUS; we collect staples for the food pantry; and provide leadership and volunteers for the Thanksgiving Food Drive. In addition, we promote the Share the Warmth program during Advent collecting funds to subsidize fuel costs for FOCUS households.

Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministries (CVEM) is our convocational outreach ministry. In addition to FOCUS, it is the ministry we support financially out of our operating budget. We continue to provide Board members. Also, Father Jeff and others participate in a variety of CVEM programs, particularly those for children and youth.

We also publicized Compassion International and other international charitable efforts and local volunteer needs of Habitat for Humanity and other organizations.

In 2011 St. Nicholas established an Outreach Committee and developed a plan of new and continuing outreach ministries for the balance of 2011 and 2012. New areas planned include a Community Dinner in the spring in partnership with CVEM, a Lenten Hope Chest Project to support Episcopal Relief and Development and a weekend mission trip to work on a project in the southeastern US.

Communications, Drucye Robinson:

Highlights of our accomplishments in 2011 include:

1. Published the St. Nicholas Spirit Newsletter each month.

2. Regularly sent articles and pictures to the Harris County Journal and Columbus Ledger-Enquirer publicizing our church services and events.

3. Sent emails to the entire church to publicize events. Our administrative assistant, Katie Linney, recently assumed this responsibility.

4. Updated the St. Nicholas Address and Phone Listing regularly and emailed the list to


5. Designed posters and flyers to publicize St. Nicholas events.

6. I served as Publicity Chairman for Lobsterfest 2011 and sent articles to news media in Columbus, Hamilton, Pine Mountain, and LaGrange.

7. Ordered two outdoor banners to temporarily replace our church sign which was destroyed in the tornado November 16.

8. Designed a large St. Nicholas fence sign to be placed at the Harris County High School football stadium.

9. Publicized our 2011 Festival of Lessons and Carols service and our Christmas services in the Harris County Journal.

10. Many thanks to our volunteer photographer, Lynn Hall, who worked tirelessly to capture pictures of our many events in 2011. Many of her pictures have been published in the Harris County Journal and have created interest in our church in the community.

11. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the monthly newsletter this year and those who faithfully sent in the lay schedules.

12. Sincere thanks to Father Jeff, Lynn Hall, Marci Horne, Judy Jenks, Barbara Morgan, Jan Pylant, and Charlotte Winsness who made up the St. Nicholas Communications Committee in 2011.

Communications Goals for 2012:

My term on the St. Nicholas Vestry ends December 31, 2011. Lynn Hall has agreed to serve as Vestry member for Communications during 2012 and will be establishing the communication goals for 2012 during the first Vestry Planning meeting.

Respectfully submitted, Drucye Robinson

Adult Formation, Lynn Hall:

1. Adult Formation Classes: I was blessed with many dedicated St. Nicholas volunteer leaders who made our Sunday mornings exciting and inspirational, as well as thought provoking this past year:

Scott Crowley lead a series of classes on Johnny Cash – His Life & Music
David Johnson lead a classes on Mediation and Prayer
Graham Horne lead a Nooma series.
Nancy Snoots lead classes on The Rosary for Episcopalians/Anglicans ( not to mention us bringing Shoo Fly pie and rosary beads)
Father Jeff and his father, Al Jackson, lead a series of classes on Grief
John Brent lead us on a Nature Walk in the woods surrounding the church.
— Father Jeff lead another series of classes titled To Hell with the Rector
Bob Hamilton lead classes on I’m Fine with God…It’s the Christians I Can’t Stand.
Father Jeff and Linda Sawyer lead an Advent Wreath class.
Michelle Moody & I lead a class on The Real St. Nick: Legend, Leader or Lie?
I lead classes on Spiritual, but not Religious and Where Was God on 9-11?

2. The St. Nicholas Out & About Group for Adults had interesting outings in 2011, where we dined, toured and explored and got to know each other better. The following people are my heroes! They took the time out of their busy lives to host these enjoyable events:

Nancy Snoots hosted a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party in her home

Heather Roper hosted a canoe/tubing trip to the Flint River

Anne Simpson hosted a visit to the Antiquity Center in LaGrange

Kathie Torres hosted a Cinco de Mayo party at El Carizzo in Columbus

Sheila Dixon hosted a trip to see a Braves game in Atlanta

I hosted a visit to Andersonville and the Mennonite Restaurant in Montezuma.

3. Our Lenten Series was an overwhelming success! Our 2011 theme was  “I Will Praise Him with a New Song”:  An Exploration of Music and Spirituality and the program included:

· Classical Religious Music and Hymns by Trey Clegg of St. Paul’s in Atlanta

· Cantors by Debbie Anderson of St. Thomas

· Appalachian-Southern Religious Music by Thornton Jordan and Linda Franklin

· African-American Spirituals by Terrence Blue of Christian Valley Church

· Johnny Cash-His Life and Music by Scott Crowley

Our over-flowing classes are proof that Adult Christian Education is alive and well at St. Nicholas! As I move to a new vestry position in 2012, an Adult Formation Committee has been formed that will schedule events for next year. Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve in this position.

Worship by Linda Sawyer:

This past year, the altar guild ( Liz Dixon’s leadership), flower guild (Suzy Eidson’s leadership), LEM’s(Father Jeff’s leadership) and the acolytes (Peggy Martin’s leadership) have done a wonderful job. Due to Sam’s leadership our choir has progressed in amazing ways and the music at St. Nicholas is a true offering to God by the congregation.

January: We had an altar guild recruiting and training session lead by Jeff Jackson and recruited one new member, Rose Brent

Also in January we had a flower guild training and recruiting session and recruited two new members, Lynn Hall and Nancy Snoops.


March: We had our first newly formed Worship Committee Meeting on March 5.

We also had an altar guild meeting on March 5.

April: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter


June: Usher training and recruiting on June 26.

Not a worship responsibility but I was Chair of the fundraiser, Lobsterfest

and worked on this for 3 months.

August Parish Picnic at Blue Springs

Pool Party for the children’s group on August 21.

October: Blessing of the Animals. We invited the director of The Humane Society to bring some of the dogs from the shelter to the blessing of the animals. Also Steve Shuman, who heads up a program at the Muscogee County Delinquent Center called Helping Hounds, spoke to us about the effort to pair boys with dogs for training.

Lobsterfest volunteer party at the Nordins on Oct. 16.

Lobsterfest debriefing meeting on Oct. 30.

Worship Committee Meeting Oct. 26.

November: All Saints Day, Veteran’s Day, Beginning of Advent

Several people in our church attended the ground breaking for the new Humane Society of Harris County, Father Jeff was asked to give the blessing.

The Humane Society is supported by quite a few members of the congregation and is one of our outreach opportunities in the community.

December: St. Nicholas Day Celebration, Lessons and Carols, Christmas Eve Service

Wreath making class for Sunday school and Adult formation on Dec. 11.

Building and Grounds: by Larry Nordin

2011 has been quite a year for the Building and Grounds committee. Bill Caudill agreed to help out by being in charge of building maintenance and has done a great job. It was decided that the church building needed painting and since we didn’t have the funds the Men’s group decided to help with the painting. This was successfully completed in October. Then we had the tornado to contend with. Fortunately, the church was not damaged but we did lose the playground set, our fences were damaged and our sign destroyed. We also had about 100 trees either knocked down or damaged so badly that they had to be removed. A local logger agreed to help remove the damaged trees and help with clean up in exchange for the timber. We have also had several folks helping out with the clean up and have had a work day. Unfortunately, it was poorly attended and much remains to be done as we head into the new year. We are also taking steps to clean up the damage to the Memory Garden and Mike Sawyer is working with a group to come up with a restoration plan for the Memory Garden. The day to day maintenance of the church property went quite well throughout 2011 with many folks helping with the mowing. During the year we had a John Deere Lawn tractor donated and a shed to store it in.

Stewardship, Dave Halmrast:
The Stewardship Ministry at St. Nick’s during 2011 was defined by the following actions and accomplishments:

  1. The results of pledges actually received compared to original 2011 pledges committed were communicated to the congregation on a quarterly basis. This helped in reminding members and friends to keep up with their original pledge. Results are right on track for meeting this important goal.
  2. The Stewardship Committee met on a frequent basis reviewing 2010 actions and developing a new plan for 2011 centered around a new concept called “Consecration Sunday Program of Giving”.
  3. The committee established a relationship with Mal Underwood from the Diocesan Stewardship committee; he functioned as a group leader for the Consecration Sunday Program. Instead of building a proposed budget the program asks “What percentage of your income is God calling you to give?” The program involved a systematic effort which took place during October and November. It included Newsletter and email announcements, letters, handouts, guest speakers, special Sermons, and three announcements from members of our congregation. There was no talk about budgets, money, or anything else which could have made our people guilty about their giving. Consecration Sunday was extremely successful resulting in a 30% increase in “estimates of giving” for 2012.

Parish Life, Sheila Dixon:

Jan – Participated in a rainy MLK parade with our sister church

Annual meeting with pot luck lunch

Feb – Mardi Gras Oyster roast at the home of Sheila Dixon was a success.

-Start of Lenten series with themed dinners and awesome speakers including David Johnson

Mar – Lenten series dinners concluded with our own Scott Crowley as speaker

April – Spring cleaning day

– Easter potluck with Easter egg hunt for the kids

May – Mother’s Day Bluegrass music and chicken on the lawn

Jun –

July – We had a successful VBS

Aug – Annual picnic at Blue Springs with great weather and over 100 people in attendance

Sep – Beyond successful Lobsterfest

Oct – Trunk-a-treat

Nov – Thanksgiving Potluck

Dec – Postponed tea…Participated in two parades…as a first timer in the pine mountain parade, and in the Hamilton parade later that same day

– Lessons and Carols with refreshments

Hospitality, Anne Simpson:

We have had over 100 people sign our Guest Registry or fill out a pew form.  We have had more visitors but for some reason they chose not to fill out visitor forms. I am thankful for the families that have decided to join St. Nicholas. Our Breakfast Ministry has been a big hit and I am thankful to all the volunteers who have prepared and served breakfast. The money collected for breakfast from donations has been spent for things needed or for other ministries. I thank you all for participating.

No report submitted from Youth & Children’s Formation





$ 195,000.00


$ 31,500.00


$ 226,500.00



$ 110,400.00


$ 30,850.00


$ 22,300.00


$ 4,570.00


$ 31,220.00


$ 1,000.00


$ 100.00


$ 2,600.00


$ 1,900.00


$ 17,855.00


$ 222,795.00

*does not include lobsterfest