[I have posted my 2018 Pastor’s Report, because it is easy for us to forget all of the extraordinary and compassionate experiences that get packed into one year for our church family – and these are just the highlights!]
We began the year with our adult potluck and discussion of “How We Got Our New Testament”, focused on the dates, authors, and history of each of the twenty-seven books. We again hosted and coordinated the 19th Annual City of Canandaigua Martin Luther King Celebration with over 200 people in attendance, and the Canandaigua Academy Madrigal Dinners were also held in our chapel (turned into a medieval banquet hall again!). Tim Schneider and crew kindly left the Victorian Christmas decorations in the sanctuary up through Epiphany Sunday, and it is always difficult to see them go back into storage. The youth group had their annual winter retreat at the Morgan’s cottage on Keuka Lake. The youth also hosted a Church Family Game Night at the church. Throughout the year, the youth combined for several events with the St. John’s Episcopal Church Youth Group.
Our Annual Meeting of the congregation again occurred during the second half of worship on the first Sunday in February, giving everyone two full weeks to digest all of the reports and financial information, and ask any questions before being asked to make any decisions. Our children and youth also began our Loose Change collections in the winter months, which this year went to the Child Advocacy Center. The children and youth collected $2000 for this effort. Loaf & Ladle again used our kitchen for preparing and distributing soups in their yearly efforts to support Granger Homestead. Also, the Ontario County Breast Cancer Support Group began regular evening meetings in the Hayes Room.
Our weekly Lenten Soup Suppers this year benefitted a young family of our church to help cover the expenses related to numerous trips to the Cleveland Clinic for the possibility of a heart transplant for the dad, which we all pray will happen soon. Also, many of our members walked in the Gleaners Walk to help feed folks in our own community. During Holy Week, our Children’s Choir sang on Palm Sunday, our Adult Choir on Maundy Thursday, and we had a large choir with many additions sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah” on Easter Sunday. Thanks to Edie Rice and Denise Morphy for their superb and meaningful music all year long.
Our building was also again used by the Finger Lakes Trail Conference for their annual meeting, and the annual Canandaigua Plein Air Art Festival also used our building during their event. Jean Logan again organized and hosted a concert by “Loren & Marks” in our sanctuary, which also benefitted our Historic Building Preservation Fund.
In May, our congregation walked in the Canandaigua MS Walk, achieving second place in the walk. Our Children’s Choir sang on Mother’s Day, and we had our annual Church Family Brunch in early May. And our Trustees and volunteers, spearheaded by Jean Landis, cleaned up our grounds and planted colorful flowers and shaped up shrubs, so that all looked beautiful to begin the spring and summer season.
In June, Dave and Peggy Sauter again hosted our Church picnic, and Milan Kutner was awarded the Ogden Award for all of his contributions to our church family over the years. Thanks to Debbie Lyon for inspiring leadership of our CE programs throughout the year, and to Jennifer Brownell for her creative leadership of the Youth Group. Under the leadership of Pam McGuire, our outstanding handbell choir played for us in worship several times during the year, and we celebrated Father’s Day, Graduation Sunday, and Choir favorites before we began our summer 9:30 worship schedule. Also, thanks to our Trustees, the parking lot was milled and completely resurfaced, and the elevator at the back entrance was replaced. Milan Kutner was our coordinator for the paving efforts, and Sue Hawkes worked tirelessly to get the newly-installed elevator working properly. We expect new projects to begin in 2019 to preserve this, the oldest public building still in continuous use in all of Western New York.
During the summer, we again enjoyed our annual trip to a Rochester Redwings game, organized by Jerry Diver, and 28 people from our church family attended. Unlike in some years, our worship attendance remained strong throughout the summer, and activities around the building barely slowed down. Thanks to the efforts of our Social Action Committee, we also participated in the Family Promise Bed Race on the pier, and our team, aptly named “Team BEDlam”, raised the most funds of any team for this event to help homeless families in Ontario County. Our Social Action Committee also helped us to collect donations of school supplies for homeless children before school started.
Also, during the summer a Pastor Search Committee was formed and has worked tirelessly throughout the fall to develop the search materials for a nationwide search for my successor upon my retirement next June.
In the Fall, we had a well-attended Adult Retreat in the Social Rooms featuring the stimulating, creative thinking and writing of author, educator and Quaker activist Parker Palmer. Also, Camerata, under the direction of Dennis Maxfield, provided a wonderful concert in the chapel, “Broadway Medley”, featuring our newly restored 1883 Steinway piano and benefitting the restoration efforts of this beautiful and historic instrument, adding to the memorial gifts in memory of Charlie Morphy and Ray Herbek for this purpose.
In October, we celebrated World Communion Sunday, and again this year, our children and youth participated by using sign language to sign the scripture reading, and we had the reading in many other languages, a reminder that we are all a wonderful part of a global community. Our youth again participated in Shantytown to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity. Thanks to Jim and Karen DeMay and many others, we had another Formal Coffee and Tuxedo Challenge which raised $6,000 for the What If? Foundation food program and school for children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Also in October, Connie Fredericks-Malone, Mike Yacci, Jeff Sawyer and Dan Batchelor returned to provide another benefit concert, entitled “Friends in Concert,” which raised over $2000 which we donated to Light Hill Comfort Care Home and Gleaners Kitchen. And on October 28th, we had a wonderful worship service featuring favorite hymns of the congregation and their background, with handbells, adult and children’s choirs, piano, and organ accompaniment.
In November, we decorated the sanctuary with cornstalks, gourds, pumpkins, and osage oranges, and on Veterans Day, our choir was joined by several members of our church family and community to sing an anthem arrangement of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
In December, Tim Schneider and all his helpers again decorated our sanctuary in Victorian beauty, Edie Rice directed the 40th Annual Community Messiah Sing-a-Long in our sanctuary with over 150 people singing, and Kim Tenreiro again presented his one-man benefit show of Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” in our chapel. We provided Christmas gifts for families through the Salvation Army, collected over 50 coats, and donated lots of hats, scarves, and mittens from our annual “Mitten Tree” (this year it was called the “Turkey Tree” because we started in November so these items could get to the Salvation Army before the really cold weather), and we rang the bell and collected Red Kettle donations for the Salvation Army on three days and evenings. Our Christian Education children and youth presented a wonderful Christmas Pageant in the chapel and the annual Advent Workshop was provided by CE again this year. The Bellchoir played for our December 16th service and also for Christmas Eve, and we celebrated Christmas Eve with our 94th Annual Service at 5 PM in the sanctuary, filled to capacity, and then, on December 30th, we had “worship around the tables” in the dining room, with the singing of carols and the stories of their origin, while we savored cookies and coffee.
Throughout the year, we provided worship services at Clark Manor and Quail Summit each month. Thanks to Elaine Hilton for accompanying me and playing piano for these services. Also, in May, I was asked to lead the annual remembrance service at Ferris Hills. Enabled by our congregation’s generosity, we still provide gas or food gift cards every 90 days for anyone who needs help in our community, and we provide monthly donations of food items to Gleaners Community Kitchen, as well as donations of toiletries and gift cards to assist the Domestic Violence Victim Advocacy program. And our assistance to families in college and career planning continues, through our support of the extraordinary efforts of our own Dr. Jim Malone. Numerous families in our community and our own church family have benefitted from this unique service. This year I had the privilege of officiating at several weddings, baptisms, and memorial services for both our members as well as families in the community who did not have a minister. And the results of the Prayer Shawl group’s talents spread comfort and warmth to newborn babies and 100-year-olds, and all those in between as they go through illness or hospitalization.
The generosity and compassion of our church family continues to amaze me. It is great to be a part of such a wonderful church family. And the extraordinary staff of Debbie Lyon, Edie Rice, Denise Morphy, and Alicia Francis are unequalled in their compassion, enthusiasm, skill, and teamwork. They make so much happen, so extraordinarily well.
May 2019 bring unexpected blessings and new opportunities to make a difference in this community and in our world, for each of us!
The Rev. Thomas A. Herbek, Pastor