"I can’t believe the year is over.” “It came too fast.” “Where did the time go?” “I didn’t get half as much done as I had hoped.”
Many people have these thoughts swirl in their head as the end of the year approaches. We tend to look back at our notes from the previous 12 months to see if we completed our plans and achieved those yearly goals. However, maybe some of those projects planned in the Spring fell off our plates by Fall. Or maybe one fire drill was replaced by another because of a news event or a local tragedy. Things change and we need to be flexible, so we can’t worry about time spent on unplanned, urgent or more important events.
When we are in the middle of life and attending to all its needs, it’s easy to lose track of just how many wonderful things we have accomplished over the year. We are so busy in our day-to-day activities, it’s sometimes difficult to see the whole year-long picture.
The annual report is a great way to step back, and be reminded of all that has been done over the past year. These reports, which usually include a comprehensive summary of the company’s financial performance, are a snapshot in the history of the Conference. They are more than just balance sheets and income statements; they tell the story of the Conference and how our local churches have helped better the world over the past year.
For example, last year’s Massachusetts Conference Annual Report, reported on how a new church start was birthed from a church closure, has grown to 50+ members over a short period of time by offering an authentic progressive ministry to all generations and to the marginalized, and is now an active and vital member of the community. If you read that annual report you would know there are 8 other new ministries, and many established churches, that are doing church in a different way than has been done in the past… and are increasing their reach and vitality.
The report also shows just how much progress has been made in meeting the goal of the Racial Justice Ministry to “engage every setting of the Conference in the work of unmasking, dismantling and eradicating racism in its personal, inter-personal, institutional and cultural forms.” Trainings and forums are now happening all over the Commonwealth in an effort to engage in conversation about how racism plagues our society.
A look over the year will show how many of our churches welcomed immigrants and protected refugees, with some churches providing shelter, food, clothing and other basic necessities to individuals and families seeking sanctuary. Other churches provided sanctuary through warm shelters and food to communities suffering from storms, explosions, and electrical outages.
Did you participate in the Poor People’s Campaign, the ONA pride marches, the mental health network, ecumenical events, restorative and actual justice testimony at the state house, the climate march and sit-ins? If you did, you were surrounded by hundreds and thousands of others making a bigger noise together. All of that was captured in the Annual Report.
And if you want numbers, you will also find them there: how much was spent and what it was spent on, how much was received and where the money came from. You will see just how much money it takes to make God’s love and justice real in our communities, and you will find the resources to help make it happen.
Yes, the report is a great way to become aware of what was done during the year, but it’s also a great piece of inspiration for the future. What more can be done? The new year is a set of blank pages. How will you choose to fill them?
Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane is the Publications Editor for the MA Conference, UCC.
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