Senior Pastor’s Report
Annual Congregational Meeting 2022
Rev. Vance E. Haywood, Senior Pastor
2022 has been a great year in the life of St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church. I have seen our congregation and community come together in so many ways, embodying the very essence of Jesus’ teachings of Love, Compassion, and Community.
Earlier this year we launched our Youth Ministry and our Digital Campus. Under the leadership of Katie Almaguer, we have held Sunday morning worship for children and young adults as well as a midweek service project that the youth are engaged in. We have worked this year to evaluate and implement our youth program as it begins to grow. Ensuring not only a rich and engaging environment for young people, but a safe environment as well.
Rev. Wanda Floyd has led our Digital Campus Ministry. Much of our time in 2022 has been to build the foundations on which the Digital Campus is being built. This campus is allowing us to expand our reach into areas where people so desperately are looking for a safe place to worship, and to find what MCC offers. I am excited for the future of what this campus brings and the ways in which we will see people’s lives transformed as they experience radically inclusive love!
This year was very inspiring as well as we witnessed and participated in so many pride celebrations! In our history, SJMCC has historically participated in Durham Pride (which was for many years, the state pride) and in Out Raleigh, a pride festival that has ran here in downtown Raleigh for about 10 years.
This year we participated in 8 different Pride events: - Jacksonville -Wilson - Apex -Raleigh - Charlotte - Durham - Asheville - Kinston
I can’t tell you how incredible this is and how inspiring… to see communities around our state that are coming together to celebrate diversity and inclusion. There were many more events held around the state; we participated in the ones we could and focused on areas where there is not currently an MCC presence, in some cases such as Kinston Pride, we were the only church represented. Again, sharing a message of Love to the world around us.
These connections provide us an opportunity to make a real difference and impact in people’s lives. Think about the first time you experienced MCC and experienced unconditional love and realized that not only does God love you, God created you in God’s own image (ALL OF YOU)! These opportunities allow us to share that same experience with 100’s of people wherever we go!
As a result of some of our outreach work, many of you know that Pastor Paully started a small group in Wilson, NC. That group is preparing for a relaunch early next year with some engagement from people in the Wilson area to include some with longtime connections to SJMCC.
A few months ago, we started an intentional outreach in the Charlotte area. We are now holding monthly social gatherings and hosted our first Worship Experience in Charlotte in August. This was a joint worship bringing in our home campus here in Raleigh, our Charlotte community, and our Digital Campus! Who would have thought we would be worshiping in three spaces at the same time?
I am also planning for the launch of regular social gatherings and information finding in the Jacksonville area starting early next year. We have worked with Onslow Pride and participated in the opening ceremonies of their very first pride event this year!
These are just some of the ways that we have experienced growth and expansion in 2022!
Probably the most noticeable growth we saw in 2022 was the relocation to this space here on Blount St in downtown Raleigh. Bringing together community partners to provide programming and resources to our community.
On a weekly basis we have the following programs and services taking place:
● HIV/STI Testing
● LGBT Center Programming
● Aging Adult Programming
● Youth Programming
● Food Pantry Services
● Connectados - a group for primarily LGBTQ+ Spanish speaking persons who have experienced trauma and finding ways to navigate life together
● Mail Services and Resource Assistance
● Case Management Services
This is just a summary of the events that take place here. We also have hosted other programs such as voter registration, health insurance enrollment, Medicaid enrollment and support, and so many other benefits to the community.
In March of this year, we relaunched our in-person worship. Following a rollercoaster of adaptations from the previous two years of COVID. As a part of that relaunch, I worked with the worship team to create our current model of “hybrid worship”. This enabled us to provide a worship experience not only for those of us gathered here in the sanctuary, but also for those gathered online. Prior to this hybrid launch, our online worship was simply a space to come “watch” worship. The online community was not invited to participate. Simply put, this was church online and not online church.
We will continue to seek ways to enrich the worship experience for both the in-person and digital community and we value your input as we grow! Over the past two years we have worked with leadership, staff, and the congregation to develop our five-year vision and plan. We have rolled that plan out and will ask for your affirmation of that vision today. Our next steps will be developing a detailed strategic plan and road map to achieving that vision. Some of that work has already begun.
I have worked with the Board of Directors and Finance Team to begin the transition of the church’s bookkeeping to an outside firm. This work began this year and will be completed by the end of this month. Our Board of Directors is responsible for the financial management of the church and contracting with an outside bookkeeping firm will assist in keeping best practices and accountability.
We already utilize the services of an accountant who performs quarterly and annual reviews of the church financials. This step to add a bookkeeping firm will enhance our ability to make informed decisions and provide timely reports to the Board of Directors and to the congregation. Simply put, when I became Pastor in 2018, our annual budget was around $120k. Next year, with our normal operating budget plus grant programs, the church will potentially be managing in excess of $600k so enhancements and expansions to our financial practices are required.
Looking to our future, I have asked our Board of Directors at its next meeting to focus on some key areas next year:
● By-Law Revision
○ Develop a by-law committee to review and propose to the congregation and the next congregational meeting by-law revisions/amendments.
● Financial Security
○ Develop a plan to build a 6-month operating reserve
○ Develop a five-year budget to align with the five-year vision
○ Work with the bookkeeping firm and accountant to review/revise our financial policies
● Establishment of a Board of Trustees
○ For the purposes of exploring and reviewing our needs and plans for 4 years from now and beyond.
○ To explore options for property
○ And prepare for the launch of a capital campaign
I am so honored to be serving here at St. John’s MCC and forever grateful for God’s divine design that had this community of faith impacting my life so many years ago (long before I even knew what MCC was). I am excited for the future that God has in store for us and the work that we are called to do.
Thank you and God Bless you all!