Please read the report BEFORE the annual meeting (THIS SUNDAY, JANUARY 13, 2013) at 9:45 am. If you have any questions we will address them at the meeting.
In 2012 we formed a Worship committee, comprised of music director, Altar guild chair, flower guild chair, acolyte chair and user/ greeter chair. We met every three months to discuss our roles and plan for busy times and special worship events.
Also in 2012 we held a flower guild training and recruiting session, usher and greeter training and recruiting session and altar guild training and recruiting session and added 12 new people to these important ministries.
The Stewardship Committee made up of David Halmrast, Mike Sawyer, Larry Nordin and Gene Demonet helped to complete a very successful Consecration Sunday campaign for 2012 including 60 pledging units totaling $186,350. Quarterly updates of pledging totals were printed in the weekly bulletin and several updates were communicated directly to parish members during announcements on Sunday.
The 2013 Stewardship Campaign was combined with the Capital Campaign for the addition to our facilities which the Stewardship Committee also helped support. The results for the 2013 Stewardship Campaign have not been completely finalized, however, should end up slightly below 2012 totals. Obviously, the current economy with its uncertain impacts helped to hold down 2013 pledging commitments.
Music for 2012
Music is a vital part of worship at St. Nicholas Church. 2012 has been a year of continued diversity in music with both choir and congregation participating in joyful singing, reflective meditation, and spiritual renewal. Music has caused us to experience a wide range of emotion as we worship God as a family of believers. Church members have shared their joy, their tears, and even sincere gratitude to the choir and me for allowing them to be spiritually moved in such wonderful ways. Here in lies the necessity of having a music ministry program in the church. We give thanks for those parishioners who have been so gracious in sharing their thoughts, emotions, and gratitude for the music we have here.
St. Nicholas Church is blessed with a very faithful and hard working choir. 2012 has been a year of personal challenges for some of our choir families. We have shared their grief in the loss of family loved ones, supported those members with continued family illness, and have rejoiced in God’s grace as he allowed recovery among some of our families.
However, the choir has been able to rise above these adversities and been able to provide our church with wonderful choir anthems, supportive singing in service music, and have been able to reach many souls in our congregation through the sharing of their musical gifts. We thank you St. Nicholas Choir for your love of music and service in our church.
Once again 2012 has been a year of diversity in music styles in worship. We have been blessed by contemporary guest musicians, our friends of the Summer Chapel Band, community singers and instrumentalists, and new soloists within our own church family. It has been exciting to see our own St. Nicholas talents come for and willing to serve in new and exciting ways.
Seasonal services have been glorious this year. We have enjoyed music from the Anglican tradition to more new and contemporary music styles in worship. Both have been well received by our congregation and have made our Easter and Advent/Christmas services glorious. Guest instrumentalists have been a great addition in making these services very special. We also enjoyed wonderful special services with the visit of Bishop Alexander on October 7. He was amazed to see the growth in our music ministry and to see how God is working in our church.
The St. Nicholas Choir once again has had a year of growth as we welcomed new choir members during 2012. This church is truly blessed by having such a wonderful volunteer choir. Many churches with similar numbers have not been as fortunate as St. Nicholas Church. We give thanks to God for this blessing.
I want to thank the members of St. Nicholas Church for the opportunity in serving Christ through music. Your love and support and our music ministry makes my job a joy to serve and for that I am most grateful to each of you.
Faithfully in Christ,
Director of Music
The 2012 St. Nicholas Outreach Ministry began with the MLK Day Parade and a collaborative entry with the Christian Valley Baptist Church. In addition we had a very successful pulpit swap and worship exchange with Christian Valley during the summer. Father Jeff spoke there followed by a potluck luncheon; then Reverend Eric Seldon gave the sermon at St.Nicholas and we hosted a bountiful light lunch.
In March 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 successful promotion of Luminaries, a donut sale and Survivor Sunday. We sold glow jewelry during Relay for Life but overall the participation at Relay was limited and we will not have a tent in 2013; however, we will still sell luminaries and honor our survivors. We held two work days at Zion Church in Talbotton, hosted the venue as part of the state’s historic preservation tour and held two afternoon services. 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.
During Lent we held our first Hope Chest campaign featuring an educational coupon booklet and benefitting the Nets for Life project of Episcopal Relief and Development. In addition, the youth of St. Nicholas held a recycling drive, collecting a wide variety of containers and electronics to fund the purchase of 50 nets.
Many thanks go to the Outreach Committee (including Rebecca Crowley, Sue
Halmrast, Bill Caudill, Katherine Johnson and Norma Wolff) for their commitment
to planning and leading a strong outreach ministry at St. Nicholas.
Parish Life 2012
2012 started with Mardi Gras at Sheila Dixon’s house which was a huge success then followed by the Lenten Dinners which were hosted by different volunteers. The picnic at Blue Springs in August was fabulous as usual.
I personally want to thank everyone who filled in for me especially Linda Sawyer and Sue Halmrast at Bishop Wright’s reception as Nick and I were taking care of my Father-in-Law, Euris Simpson, who passed away from cancer in October.
During my 3 years of service on the Vestry at St. Nicholas, I found it to be a very rewarding experience and I found the parishioners of St. Nicholas to be willing to help whenever or wherever needed. The Spirit of God is alive and well at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve.
Youth Formation 2012
2012 saw an increase in attendance for Sunday School. We discussed, saints, holidays – where they came from and the whys behind them. The 2nd portion of 2012 we started the Gospel According to Harry Potter and will continue through the beginning of 2013.
Youth Group hasn’t been as successful; however, the youth of Saint Nicholas have flourished in other aspects such as: lay readers, assisting on the Alter, senior acolytes and SNICK.
It was discussed and decided to set the “Formal” Youth Group aside at this time and continue our focus on how the youth are serving the church and growing those who are currently in SNICK.
Building Committee 2012
The Church Building is in great shape! I have to put a finish coat of paint on the south door from the front corridor. That door was replaced this year and I have not finished it because the paint is oil base and requires that the door remain open for several hours.
The air condition filters have been change. The lights appear to be working fine. I have not had any complains or heard of a problem with the building.
One thing I want to have done is change the carpet in the office next to the Narthex and the front corridor when we do the work on the building.
Peace to all!
During the past year, we were finally able to develop a current online church directory with photos of our parishioners and friends. Many thanks to the members of my Communications Committee (Linda Sawyer, Anne Simpson, Kathie Torres, Michelle Moody and Charlotte Winsness) and photographer, Heather Roper, for their support and assistance with this worthwhile project.
Articles and photos were sent to the Harris County Journal and Columbus Ledger-Enquirer publicizing our church services and events.
Posters and flyers were designed and published for St. Nicholas services and events.
Developed advertising for publication in Harris County Journal and Harris County Guide. Served as Publicity Co-Chairman for Lobsterfest 2012, sending articles to news media in Columbus, Hamilton, Pine Mountain, and LaGrange.
Served as Capital Campaign Communications Chairman, coordinating with consultant, campaign chair, Father Jeff and printing firm to develop and publish all campaign material (brochures, banners, bookmarks, pledge cards) and update campaign website.
Through the dedicated work of Gene Demonet, Doug Martin, John Winsness, Kenny Hall, Heather Roper, Tom Cheatum and Larry Nordin the grounds were kept mowed, and the shrubs were pruned twice during the year and weeds were sprayed. The dead trees that remained after the tornado of 2011 are slowly being cut up and burned or hauled to the dump. A couple of dead trees were also cut down and burned. A committee headed by Mike Sawyer has also been working on the memory garden and plans some additional plantings in the spring.
Thanks to all for your hard work,
Children’s Ministry 2012
The nursery ministry runs like clockwork because of our wonderful Katie Linney! We have Sunday school teachers that bless us and our children when they are scheduled to teach. They are Sheila Dixon, Diane Hinnant, Graham Horne, Marci Horne, Jackie Lintner, Peggy Martin, Michelle Moody, Bert Tomlin, and Hollie Queener. We have an average attendance of 6-12 children in Sunday school each week eager to learn the weekly lesson. St. Nicholas has a new play set that the children really enjoy. In April we had an Easter egg hunt. This summer we had 28 attendees under the age of 10 and 20 helpers at our Vacation Bible School “High Seas Adventure.” Our Trunk or Treat celebration was a hit with the neighborhood. There were over 100 attendees. We were the only church in the Hamilton Christmas Parade. On St. Nicholas Day the kids’ shoes were filled with goodies. The Christmas Pageant was well organized and is always a much anticipated production. SNICK started this year. It gives the younger youth an opportunity to learn about God’s word while singing and having fun. They are learning what “community” means. Who wouldn’t have fun watching Fr. Jeff in front of the kids being the excited showman and entertainer that he can be. As a parent I have enjoyed being able to participate by having dinner with SNICK once a week. We are grateful and blessed to have such active and engaged teachers, parents and kids.
Rector’s Report 2012
Grace and peace through our Lord Jesus Christ! This year was a year of change, as St. Nicholas continued to take steps to further our faith and growth. As always, it’s a honor and privilege to serve as the rector of this parish, and as we look ahead to 2013, I know that God will continue to do wonderful works through our shared ministry.
Let’s look at the numbers:
Our average Sunday attendance (ASA) is as follows:
8:30 service: 19 24
11:00 service: 69 67
Total attendance: 91 91
Don’t worry if these numbers don’t total correctly. We only had 40 8:30 services and 41 11:00 services. The total number includes every Sunday and Christmas Eve.
To give you an idea of our attendance growth over the last 6 years:
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
62 70 78 80 91 91
Well done, St. Nicholas!!!
We had 1 baptism (Grey Lachlan Jackson).
We had 1 person make a mature affirmation of faith through confirmation (Ingrid Cheshire).
We had 2 people received into the Episcopal Church from other denominations (Bob Hamilton & Barbara Walker).
We had 1 person reaffirm her vows made at confirmation (Marilyn Vida).
We had 1 wedding at St. Nicholas (Bill Batastini and Susan Lippmann).
We had 2 funerals at St. Nicholas in January (Ronnie Burns and Sam Albert).
We welcomed 8 people who transferred their letter of membership: David Walker, Patty Grace, Sam Roney, Dick and June Wood, Kirkland and Charlton Williams, and Tony Cox.
We had no members transfer their letter of membership out.
We also wished a farewell to some regular attendees who moved away: Wayne and Lilly Cain and their children Olivia and Emily, and the Rev. Tom and Nan Jones.
We welcomed 94 guests and visitors this past year, with about 20 of them either transferring membership or becoming regular attendees. Those figures are almost identical to the year before.
Overall, we have 125 regularly attending members, up from 111 last year. We have 54 regular attendees who are not yet members, down from 60 last year. We have 50 members on the books who have not transferred and do not attend regularly. This all totals 229 people who are connected to the St. Nicholas family, up from 224 last year.
We also have 58 pledging households, which is a slight decrease from last year at 60.
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.
• Our Adult Formation Committee did a superb job of organizing interesting and engaging topics of conversation to deepen our spiritual growth. Their theme was “Healthy Body, Soul, and Mind” for the year. Highlights included an emotional 3-session forum on Sexuality & the Bible, Ona Graham’s classes on contemplative prayer, Bob Hamilton’s series on Proverbs, Scott Crowley’s session on Ralph Waldo Emerson, and two excellent sessions by Mabry Collins on Judas Iscariot and Simon of Cyrene.
• Episcopal 101 moved to Sunday mornings which garnered much more participation. This year’s average attendance was 15, which more than doubled from the year before.
• The Summer Chapel Band returning from Highlands, North Carolina for another “Bluegrass Mass,” and for the first time they played at both services, which caused our attendance to increase.
• The Strategic Planning Committee completed their work in moving us forward towards a Capital Campaign. That group morphed into 2 new committees: the Capital Campaign Committee and the New Building Committee.
• We had a successful Capital Campaign, raising well over $400,000 in pledges to the new building.
• The New Building Committee took steps to get our new sign built as well as negotiating a contract with our architect to design the new building.
• The Men’s Group of St. Nicholas met regularly for meals around the county and in Columbus.
• The Pastoral Care Committee continues to write cards, take food, and make prayer blankets to people who need them.
• We hired a new Administrative Assistant, Whitney Carter, after Katie Linney found another job.
• We had our most successful Lobsterfest yet, raising over $22,000 and having a great time doing it!
• We started a new kids program on Wednesday nights called SNICK where children gather for worship, food, and activities to learn more about the Bible and our tradition. We have had an average of 13 children each week!
• We had wonderful parish events including Mardi Gras, the Lenten Series, Relay for Life, and Trunk or Treat.
• We opened our doors for concerts including singer/songwriter Bill Mallonee, which led to local musician Allen Levi hosting monthly concerts on the Second Saturday of each month. This has brought 150-160 people into our building once a month!
• We swapped pulpits with our friends from Christian Valley Church in Cataula, inviting them to St. Nicholas, and us worshipping with them there.
• We had another successful Vacation Bible School, welcoming over 30 young people for a week of fun and learning about God.
• We worked at Zion Church in Talbotton, tending to it’s physical needs.
• The Vestry took their first away-from-home retreat at Camp Mikell and continued making plans for the future.
• Our choir continues to sing praises to God under the excellent leadership of our music director Sam Roney. I received more compliments this year to pass on to the choir than ever before!
• Our attendance and membership numbers continue to grow!
In addition, I served on the committee to nominate candidates for the 10th Bishop of Atlanta. We concluded that work, and on June 2, we elected the Rev. Rob Wright to be our new bishop. He was consecrated in October at one of the most moving worship services I’ve ever attended.
In November, I was elected at Diocesan Council to serve a 3-year term on the Standing Committee of the diocese, which is a huge honor. Because of this new assignment, I have resigned as chair of the Communications Commission, although I will remain a member.
My family and I continue to thrive in this wonderful home of ours in Harris County. We got to spend a week at the Kanuga Conference Center this summer, which was a highlight for everyone, as well as winning a trip to Panama City Beach. Tai and Bronwyn are enjoying school, while Liam and Grey stay home with their mom. Molly has entered into a new phase of not having babies anymore, and has even started a side-business selling Wild Tree food products.
I continue to enjoy collecting, writing about, and hosting a podcast about comic books. In addition, I have started taking guitar lessons and hope to do more this year in learning about songwriting. I continue to see my spiritual director monthly and have also rejoined a clergy group at the Pastoral Institute, which is a great deal of fun.
The challenges of being rector at St. Nicholas are minor and mainly have to do with growing pains. On one hand, people want to see St. Nicholas grow, but that means change, which is difficult. I certainly understand that anxiety, and try to stay non-anxious in the midst of it.
As I look forward to 2013, I am hopeful for a few things:
• I hope to create a working timeline for the new building. I would love to see us start on the building this year, but until we start getting pledges in, it will be difficult to break ground. I want to see us be wise with our time, however, I don’t want to lose momentum in what we’ve been able to do thus far.
• I hope to see growth, but not just in numbers. I want to see the people of St. Nicholas grow deeper in their faith like never before. I want people engaging in formation programs and small groups.
• I hope to see a new sign on the corner of Hwy 116 and Mobley Road!
• I hope to see people engaging in FOCUS and CVEM, supporting these vital ministries to our communities.
• As we grow in membership, it will be vital for more folks than me and the Pastoral Care Committee to care for one another. I hope to see greater attention paid to those who are struggling financially, mentally, and physically.
• I hope to welcome new people into our family, especially those who have no church home currently.
• I hope to see more regular attendance of our church membership at everything we do so that people are getting the full benefit of worship and gathering together in fellowship.
• I plan to begin work on my sabbatical, which will happen in 2015, but may require special funding through grants, which will be due this spring.
• I plan to take all my vacation and continuing education so that I can be the best priest, husband, and father I can be.
The world seems to be a dark place, with our government at odds with us, with unthinkable violence, with pain that is carried by just about everyone you meet. Yet when I think of St. Nicholas, I think of a refuge from that world. It’s an oasis for me when I gather with you all to remind me that the world doesn’t have the final say on how things should be. Only Jesus gets to make that call, and his call is for life, love, compassion, and resurrection. When the people of St. Nicholas gather for singing, praying, fellowship, Holy Eucharist, and service to those in need, we stand in opposition to that world which says there is no hope. Just by being together, we make a difference.
I am grateful to Molly and my sweet kids for their inspiration and support. I am grateful to the Vestry and Staff for their hard work this year. I’m grateful to you all for your generosity and presence and love. Thank you for letting me be the rector at this marvelous section of God’s world.
The Rev. Jeff Jackson
St. Nicholas’ 2nd Rector
January 8, 2013