One of the goals for the Board this year is as follows. “Support the Outreach team to make Chalice more visible to the outside Community and encourage growth, with a goal of diversifying membership”
Our current membership at Chalice includes 130 members, 9 non-voting members, 5 member emeritus and 39 pledging friends, totalling 183. According to the Chalice Transition/Growth Task Force in 2014 we had at that time 231 members, friends and regulars. (Their report is on the Chalice Wiki site under Governance/Size Transition Task force-it’s good reading).
As you can see, the number of members has dropped over the years.This is in alignment with the nation as a whole. According to a Gallup poll, church, synagogue or mosque membership in the U.S. has dropped from 70% in 1999 to 50% in 2018 and 47% in 2020.
Over the 20 years that I have been a member here and the 8 or so years that I have been involved in leadership, membership has always been a concern. We are always asking ourselves how we can attract more people.
I believe our congregation is on solid footing. We have an experienced and well loved minister. And I can say the same about the rest of our paid staff. Financially we are doing fine. We have many groups and committees that despite the pandemic continue to thrive. We have continued to donate outside of ourselves. And our online Sunday Services have provided us with solace, spiritual and intellectual growth, and community.
But in order to survive for many years to come, we do need to grow. I have often thought that the best way to grow is to continue to be our awesome selves and people will find us. And I still believe that. However I also realize no matter how great we are if we are hidden from view our numbers may continue to fall. And being as fantastic as our congregation is, that would be a real shame.
So what do we do? Luckily we have an active Outreach Team who is focused on this very question. This team consists of Richard Korts, Kate Vereb, Bonnie Packert and Barry Hacker. A big part of our future lies online. It really is the new wave in Church, along with meeting face-to-face. But most of all, whether we are online or face-to-face, the strength of our bonds as a community; our caring for eachother and for the world around us is what lies in the heart of our church. We know we have a lot to offer, now we just need to make sure more people know this too. If you have any ideas on growth please talk to the Outreach team and help them and us by inviting your friends and family to tune in on Sundays or to join the book club or eat out with the Cracker Barrel folks or be active in any of the myriad groups we provide.
With much love for our congregation,