The Stewardship Ministry Team comprises the elements of our church community that enable us to reach outward and inward: a building for worship and church programs, support of our leadership, and funds to fulfill our ongoing commitments. Its responsibilities include: (together with the Treasurer) funding and financial oversight, personnel and legal matters; our building; and certain aspects of community engagement (enabling building use and Williams College liaison).
The Stewardship Ministry Team is represented by: Ben Hynes ’16 (ends June), Kevin Jones ’16 (ends June), Anne Skinner ’17, Bob Behr ’18, Brian Handspicker ’18, Keith Davis ’18, Susan Clarke, ‘19, David Dewey ’19*, Nancy Piatczyc ’19*. Each member brings a unique background in participation in the life of the church, shares views and experiences, contributes to decision-making, and broadens his or her understanding of the administrative operations of the church. Ministry Team members work closely with the Treasurer (an ex officio member of the cluster), make policy and spending decisions, and work with other members of the Congregation in sub-groups focused on specific projects.
The Stewardship Ministry Team oversees the following efforts:
Whitman Welch Society
The Society is named after the first minister of our Church. With our 250th anniversary approaching, it is fitting to honor Rev. Welch by strengthening the future mission of First Church through estate planning. Many members have already identified the church in their bequests, perhaps you are one of them. If you have, or are interested in doing so, kindly inform our Financial Secretary, Annie Parkman, so that your name can be added to the Society’s rolls.
Annual Pledge Committee
The goals of the Annual Pledge Committee include making the congregation aware of how important pledges are to the Church and its functions. A first reminder is usually sent via email to members and friends. Subsequent Sunday bulletins contained squibs about how pledges keep the Church running. Members of the committee often give short testimonials on the Sundays, noting what First Church has meant to them. All these efforts culminate on Stewardship Sunday when the Pastor’s sermon addresses this important topic. A letter, pledge forms, and a brochure showing visually the sources of funds and how the church spends its funds are mailed to arrive after that Sunday.
Our September Tag Sale is a whole community event! Many members are recruited and organized into a host of volunteers who collect, clean, organize, price, and sell many, many household items. The cluster members thank all those who help with this significant effort. The tag sale is a major recycling event in the community. It is a community effort introducing us to many Williams students and others in the community. It provides a low-cost shopping opportunity for members of the community who are facing hard times. The funds raised this way allow us to continue our outreach efforts to help others in the community.
Financial Review and Budgeting
Ministry Team members work with the Treasurer, receiving their monthly reports, including regular monitoring of income and expenditures, both for the cluster and for the church as a whole. Church staff provides historical records and documentation in many endeavors.
Personnel and Legal Matters
Personnel Committee has the following responsabilities:
• Review of individual job descriptions to assure they are up-to-date and inclusive
• Contribute to the performance evaluations given each year by the Pastor to staff members
• Recommend salaries for the upcoming year
• Review and recommend adjustments to the general Personnel Policies for all employees
• Help to resolve any personnel-related issues as they arise
Each year we invest in ongoing repairs to our slate roof, painting and maintaining the exterior of our nearly 100 year old building. The slate portion of our roof is approaching 99 years of an average 100 year life-span for a slate roof. Each year we replace deteriorating tiles, reposition and replace some of the snow-breaks on the roof, paint a side of the building, or the steeple, reposition and clean rain gutters, and downspouts. All the things that a homeowner has to do to maintain their house, we have to do with our community space on a large scale. Planning and implementation for major capital projects is ongoing and we continue to identify needed projects to be carried out as funds permit. We are looking ahead to our 250th anniversary in 2015 with exciting new ideas for refurbishing and re-energizing the church.
Building Use by Community Groups. As part of the church’s mission to serve the community, our building is made available for use by various community groups. Over the past few years we have changed our approach to building use from viewing our renters as tenants to working collaboratively with them as “Mission Partners.” We have restructured our building use fees to be competitive with the Northern Berkshires commercial rental market. The result is that we have made the church a more attractive location for rent-paying ventures, as well as a more attractive venue for “good works” and community events. We have come to understand that our historic meetinghouse is not just a building to be maintained, but an asset to be used for our missions and a place for the people that make up the community of the Church. We are most grateful to the church staff for shouldering the additional office management and building management work as a result of our building becoming the Community Meetinghouse for which we had yearned during our 2011 Self-Assessment process.
We are pleased to continue to have as long-term tenants the Counseling Center of the Berkshires, the Hoosic River Watershed Association, the Starlight Stage Youth Theatre and Higher Ground. Our most recent Mission Partner is the ABC House Clothing Sale. The sale has been held here annually, since it’s beginning, but 2013 marks the beginning of our partnership in the building. We hope it will be a long successful partnership!