The Living Ministry Profile is a United Church of Canada initiative and a pilot project of the Montreal & Ottawa Conference. It enables a pastoral charge, like Orleans United, to reflect on its statement of purpose (its declared mission or ministry) on an annual basis, allowing the faith community to update and reaffirm who they are and what they believe God is inviting them to do.
OUC’s Living Ministry Profile project was coordinated by our Ministry & Personnel Committee and prepared by several Ministry Teams and leaders in the Spring of 2015: Council, our two clergy, Outreach, Elders, Care & Support, Finance, Worship, Youth, and Children’s Ministries. It is the most current description we have concerning the identity of our church community and how we live God’s purpose through our programs and ministries. The church is grateful for their contributions.
In the early 2000’s Orleans United prepared a Mission Statement based on Micah 6:8 – “What does the Lord require of you? To seek justice, to love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” We described our purpose as “a contemporary Christian community bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together with God in friendship, action, prayer, love and service through Jesus Christ.”
In 2013, through the efforts of OUC’s Future Directions Ministry Team, an interpretation of the earlier Mission Statement was articulated. Wanting to be more in tune with the “actions” suggested in the Micah passage and hoping that our people might memorize and embrace it, Future Directions offered this update: “To empower faith journeys and model Jesus’ goodness through vibrant community.”
Most recently, in 2015, a newly formed Communications Ministry Team hoped to find a catchphrase that would become OUC’s message to effectively communicate who we are and what we strive for as a community of faith. The message at the heart of Orleans United’s mission currently promoted by Communications is: “Spreading God’s goodness together.”
This Living Ministry Profile seeks to unpack and amplify these expressions of mission we claim as a faith community. Council hopes as you read it that you will feel affirmed by the many good things we do as followers of Jesus and be encouraged to discover new ways to partner with God and your friends in Christ here at Orleans United Church.
1. Does the description of our physical community (town, city, region) still adequately reflect who we are? In what ways has our community changed?
A recent Economic Review conducted by the City of Ottawa indicates that over the past four years Ottawa’s population grew by 3.8% and employment increased by 3.2%, being the smallest growth of all major Canadian cities. The proportion of our younger population (under 14 years) fell slightly to 16%; the proportion of 15-64 yr olds has also fallen slightly but still makes up 70% of the population and our seniors (65 and over) now make up 14% having risen by 1.4%. 61.7% of our city’s workforce is employed in the private sector; 35.3% in the public sector and 3% in not-for-profit. Average personal income is $46,388 which is an increase of 7.3% and is the third highest in the country. Ottawa also ranks third in the most affordable housing index.
The community of Orleans remains essentially the same type of community as it was at the time of the last JNAC report in 2009, Ottawa’s eastern suburban community with the majority of the working force commuting into downtown for work and a significant francophone component. According to the 2011 census Orleans’ population was 107,823. In 2014 the population had grown to just over 119,000. The suburban area continues to spread east and south with constant new housing developments. The population of Orleans continues to include a highly educated and diverse mixture of federal government employees, military and police personnel, high tech workers and service providers/entrepreneurs, retirees and stay at home parents.
2. Do our facilities continue to meet the needs of our congregation and wider community?
Our facilities do generally continue to meet the needs of our Congregation with the facility being used almost every day and every evening of the week for a variety of activities. This high volume use and the age of the building means that we face some expensive maintenance and capital repair items such as repair/replacement of the tower, sanctuary flooring, furnace replacement, and storage capacity, to name only a few.
We are not so sure we meet the needs of the wider community, not completely at least. It is noteworthy that we rent our sanctuary to a predominately francophone, black, Seventh Day Adventist Church, which means that the building use on a weekly basis includes another faith community of a significantly different demographic. In addition, baptism bookings are full every month and sometimes require a 3 month waiting period. In terms of space rental we need more daytime renters, but our space is too limited for some groups and our policy against serving alcohol curtails the use of our facility. Serving alcohol however involves many expenses and complications. The lack of adequate wireless services throughout the building may be limiting some ministries. A Revenue Stability Task force has recommended that we conduct a full market analysis to compare our facility to other similar facilities and to consider the need for technology enhancements to meet the needs of our congregation and other community users of our building.
3. How has our congregational demographics changed over the past year?
There are 600+ families who consider OUC their church home. Over the past five years our congregation has stabilized to a worshipping community of 200+ people from September through May. Of those 200 worshippers about ½ grew up in a faith tradition other than UCC and ¼ are new attenders since Rev. Glen joined Rev. Molly. About 1/3 of them are younger than retirement age, 1/3 travel from beyond the immediate neighbourhoods to worship, and 1/3 support the church through PAR. The Sunday School program is growing slowly with 90 children registered and an average attendance of 25 in 4 classes through grade 6. OUC Youth has over 30 registered teens in their programs with about 15 attending Sunday morning activities on a regular basis. In the whole congregation there are about 300 financial contributors averaging about $1,000/year, with slight increases each year during these five years. The overall makeup of our congregation appears stable with the impression that new attenders are finding meaningful participation in the life of the faith community.
4. In the past 12 months, how has our congregation responded to the outreach needs within our community, regionally and globally?
Locally in our east Ottawa neighbourhood OUC’s Outreach Ministry Team has encouraged the congregation to ongoing involvement with two community centres and their respective food cupboards (Gloucester and Orleans/Cumberland) including monthly food drives. Over the past year it has expanded food relief awareness by adding a Lenten “Change for Change” offering on behalf of breakfast programs in local schools. In addition, the Outreach team championed the Green Church Initiative in the congregation to better live with respect in creation, which resulted in joining the city recycling and waste pick-up program.
Regionally we maintain active relationships with Centre 507, the Multifaith Housing Initiative, Helping with Furniture, and the Interchurch Refugee Group (in which OUC has a central leadership role). The refugee ministry maintains ongoing relationship with families who we have sponsored over the years, and we recognize the global nature of this work. Our primary global outreach though is through Mission and Service; last year we exceeded our target and collectively donated $36,660 which is over 10% of our congregation’s total offerings in 2014.
Outreach is a dynamic part of OUC’s mission, playing an important role in the life of the congregation. The Outreach Ministry Team has more ideas than people. Our ongoing struggle and growing edge is to expand involvement and share participation with more people.
In what ways have we assisted our congregational leadership in responding to the mission of the congregation within the community of faith and beyond?
Orleans United Church (OUC) is a large and active community of faith. We strive to provide meaningful experiences for people, from many different backgrounds, who have come to call OUC home. It takes many hands to ensure that all needs are being met. At OUC our new Council structure allows for fluid movement and sharing of information between Ministries, Members at Large, Ministers and the Congregation. It aims to promote grass roots initiatives, giving people the opportunity to act where they see a need, whether it be big or small. Ministry teams are more self-motivated, and have contributed to and improved the overall experience at OUC in a very positive way. We are working hard to have meaningful conversations through programs such as Believe.Belong.Become, which has helped newcomers and regulars alike to find and follow their faith journey in a more meaningful way. The Inter Church Refugee committee, on which a significant number of members of OUC participate, has been an integral part of our congregation as we rally together to ensure the needs of new Canadian families are met. Providing time for Fellowship following the service each Sunday has been integral in allowing people the opportunity to visit, chat and exchange ideas. This time allows newcomers to meet people and strengthen their connection at OUC. We work to engage people both within our congregation and beyond via social media. Our website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page are accessible to all within our community and beyond. It helps members of the congregation to stay connected when they are away at school or travelling. It also helps to give OUC a voice in the greater United Church of Canada and beyond. Being inclusive, all ages at OUC are encouraged to participate in the future planning discussions, ensuring many view-points are heard and considered. Involving all ages helps to promote succession planning, ensuring that the vibrant and engaged community at OUC continues to thrive for years to come.
5. In what ways have we assisted one another within the congregation on our individual spiritual faith journey?
Opportunities for personal engagement and meaningful connections are plentiful at Orleans United, and it is through such moments that people feel most encouraged in their faith journeys. Small group experiences such as retreats and adult study groups (e.g. Believe.Belong.Become, Men’s breakfast, Java Jive, Lent/Advent book studies) provide the chance to explore questions of faith and find support for individual faith journeys. The Easter butterfly opportunity is just one example of how individuals and families at OUC are encouraged to share their faith with each other and the wider community. Individual relationships nurtured during experiences such as confirmation mentoring, the ministry of coffee hour after worship, or youth group were identified as key to feeling encouraged in one’s faith life.
Worship is a central component to life at OUC, and through worship people feel spiritually nurtured. The ministry of music, the special services (Ash Wednesday, Candlelight Vigil, etc), celebrating sacraments, the participation of lay people in all aspects of worship, the inclusion of children and youth in all activities all serve to provide an atmosphere where individuals can grow in faith. OUC seeks to offer a welcoming environment that encourages people to find their own place in church. In all we do, we seek to invite people to join together in a spirit of growing and discovering.
There exist opportunities for continuing to expand our spiritual nurture and care, particularly as we consider the needs of busy families, and the unique challenges of a large and diverse congregation. How do we encourage connection and create an environment where people will reach out to us, sharing their needs and vulnerabilities? We need to continue working at expanding our circles of engagement, both within the congregation and with the surrounding community.
6. Are there new initiatives that have been undertaken – or need to be undertaken – to remain faithful to our call within this town/city/region and our world?
OUC continuously searches for innovative ways to answer our call locally, regionally and around the world. The Spirit that moves us is a restless one. Over the past five years congregational leaders have intentionally focused on initiatives to help the congregation to position itself for the next generation of ministry in Orleans. Council established a Future Directions Ministry Team which guided the early stages of this transition. It completed its mandate in 2014 with a major revision of our Council structure. The new Council elected in the Spring of 2014 is smaller with 6 of its 13 members tasked with sustaining meaningful relationships with the 20-plus ministry teams that operate within our faith community.
Other new initiatives include:
1) The Stewardship Conversation Ministry Team, which approaches stewardship in a way that focuses on the broader meaning of faithful partnership with God and each other;
2) a renewed Youth Ministry Team, which has developed a partnership with the youth group giving them more hands-on responsibility with developing their programming and managing their finances
3) a new Communications Ministry Team recently begun in 2015, which is working on establishing a consistent and congruent “message” about the church’s mission, which will be expressed internally for improved communication in the congregation and externally to project our image faithfully in our neighbourhood and beyond; and
4) the implementation of the Green Church Initiative which resulted in joining the city of Ottawa’s recycling and waste pick-up program and the cancellation of a garbage contract with a fiscal saving of nearly $3,000 annually.
We are mindful of the continued need to develop and pursue our long range vision.
7. Are we as a congregation continuing to meet the pastoral care, spirituality and self-care needs within our community of faith and the wider community, Ottawa East?
Focussing this question through the lens of pastoral/spiritual care, OUC’s Care and Support (Ministry) Team takes an active role in meeting the personal needs of many people in our congregation and neighbourhood. On the pastoral care front, CST delivers casseroles to families disrupted by crisis and gives “comfort bears” to individuals who need a reminder that they are not alone. Its compassionate notes/cards ministry sends hand written messages of love to a dozen people every month. CST people are present at every church funeral for both church families and neighbours, and visit with folks who need support and encouragement.
On the spiritual care front, CST holds Season of Life workshops for the congregation and the wider community several times a year (in the past year – Wills and Estate Planning, Seniors’ Tea and Resource Fair, and most recently The Power of Prayer with 45 people attending). The team also hosts an annual “Candlelight Vigil” for anyone feeling fragile at Christmas, sponsors a regular email prayer ministry which remembers others in times of struggle, and engages worshipers in prayerful conversation every Sunday in the “Care Alcove” just outside the Sanctuary.
Care and Support is committed to encouraging everyone to become more actively engaged in a caring ministry every day. It continues to explore new ways to connect with youth, young adults, and younger families, to improve our mentoring/modeling of kindness and compassion through our congregation, and to build “caring” bridges with other OUC ministry teams.
8. Are we faithful in our use of our resources: financial ($), talents (people) and physical (building)? Do our stewardship goals assist us in meeting the needs of the life and work of our congregation?
Congregational leaders are attentive in addressing the ways we communicate about church resources as a whole in order to fulfill the heart of our mission – “to encourage everyone’s faith journey, to model Jesus’ kindness through our faith community, and to spread God’s goodness to others.” OUC’s Resource Ministry strives to be as efficient, effective and environmentally sound in managing our church’s building, financial, and human resources.
Financially, a narrative budget approach has helped our faith community better appreciate the sacred relationship between “the offerings we give” and “the ministries we accomplish.”
Concerning both paid staff and church volunteers who minister side by side, steps have been taken to formally inventory the talents of all congregation participants for ministry.
Regarding the building and property, the congregation faces ongoing capital replacement needs (e.g. carpets, furnaces, painting) and tries to address at least one improvement annually. As well, the church is faced with a major structural concern over brickwork on the tower and other wall areas.
In terms of stewardship, the ongoing work of our Stewardship Conversation continues to focus attention on a three-fold goal: 1) active participation in OUC’s ministry programs; 2) intentional volunteering in at least one OUC ministry; and 3) regular, meaningful financial support of OUC’s overall mission.
9. In what ways do your financial/budget projections for the coming years need to be updated? Are they still accurate?
Financial projections are updated annually and incorporated in the budget presented to and voted on at the Annual Congregational Meeting. The annual budget is developed based on past experience and best estimates for the coming year. However, due to the uncertain nature of congregational revenues and expenditures, there are some deviations from the approved budget. In 2015, total revenues, which depend on congregational givings and rental income, were 3.6% above budget. Because program and building expenses were below expectations, total expenses were 3.5% below budget. The result was a positive balance at the end of the year of about $12,000 compared to a budgeted deficit of $12,483.
The presentation of the budget at the Annual Congregational Meeting combines both financial and ministry-based approaches. Work on “narrative budgeting” over the past four years has led to a presentation of the line item budget that focuses on 3 main “assets” that make OUC a healthy faith community: 1) our ministry programs, 2) our paid personnel as resources to our ministry programs, and 3) our church building as our family home for over 25 years in the neighbourhood.
Our growing edge includes increased focus on budgeting and revenue generation for major capital improvements. Recent budgets focus predominantly on annual operational expenses and do not adequately include the cost of capital projects. Council is considering the recommendations of a Revenue Stability Committee that explore options to improve the financial position of the congregation. Council is also exploring ways to more effectively communicate awareness of our financial needs to the congregation as a whole.
As we look to the future, concern is expressed about aging donors and subsequently a shrinking donor base. For every established giver who moves on, it often takes several new givers to make up the difference. We continue to search for innovative ways to address financial needs honestly and transparently without alienating supporters.
10. Does our worship meet the diverse needs of the whole people of God?
Recognizing that OUC’s congregation is very diverse in terms of its theological views, church backgrounds, expectations of worship, and ages, we work hard at providing dynamic, engaging worship that will appeal to all. That said, the inclusiveness and diversity of our congregation means that it is impossible to meet everyone’s needs on any given Sunday. The Worship Committee pays close attention to the worship needs of the congregation and seeks to address concerns and accommodate requests as much as possible. There is a rich community of gifts within our congregation and it is always wonderful to have people share their artistic talents, including music, drama, and visual arts, in worship. We are blessed to have a significant number of Licenced Lay Worship Leaders who share in worship leadership regularly. Sunday morning worship often involves a number of voices including a Worship Elder, Scripture Reader, choir, soloists, musicians, lay speakers sharing Ministry Moments or Minutes for Mission, and two clergy.
There is a sense that worship at OUC would feel comfortable to those who grew up with a traditional United Church background, but is also accessible and inviting for those who come to us with little or no church experience. There is always room for improvement in terms of offering alternative styles and forms of worship, either in terms of when services might be offered or the kind of worship that might be engaging. The clergy have experimented with some alternative worship opportunities over the past few years. We are mindful that worship takes place in a variety of ways and various locations including in small group gatherings and at retreats.
11. What does it mean for us to be a part of the United Church of Canada?
OUC values its relationship with the United Church, particularly in terms of the ways that it informs our identity. Being part of a denomination which is perceived as flexible, responsive, inclusive, open and welcoming is important to who we are as an individual faith community. Our relationship with the United Church of Canada means knowing that we are part of a faith tradition that is ever-evolving, that places decision-making responsibilities in the hands of the congregation, that is willing to take a stand on political issues, and that emphasizes social justice and outreach. Opportunities for asking questions, learning, and being encouraged on one’s individual faith journey feel like hallmarks for the United Church, and are vital components of life at OUC.
12. Regarding the Ministry Personnel Position Description:
a) Does our existing Position Description adequately reflect the reality of our ministerial needs?
Yes, and the description of our full-time, equal, collaborative team is described as follows:
The success of the team ministry model experienced at Orleans United has been based largely on the understanding that in this team, all ministry duties and responsibilities will be shared in a mutual and collaborative way. The position designations suggest the ministry personnel who in the team will assume primary responsibility for initiating those collaborative conversations for any given area. The position descriptions are fluid and evolving understandings of the lived-out ministry at OUC, and as such there is room for allowing the gifts and strengths of each team member to be fully realized. It is understood that both ministry positions are charged with the total oversight and care of the congregation and all of its various pastoral needs.
b) Are the specific “Terms of Call” still appropriate? Do they need to be updated?
Yes, a current update has been developed in April, 2015 as follows:
The Position Description portion of this Living Ministry Profile has been placed in Profile 3 below.
- Profile 1: Demographic, Financial and Community
- Profile 2: Living Ministry Profile
- Profile 3: Position Description(s)
- Profile 4: Skills, Knowledge and Experience
- Profile 5: What We Can Offer
- Profile 6: Pastoral Charge – Telling Our Story
Joint Needs Assessment Report (PDF, 406KB)