Wednesday Word - Rev. Grace - Survey Results
Thanks to all who completed the survey we sent last week. We received 92 responses, which is extraordinary. Your feedback is very helpful. Vestry reviewed the results at their meeting on Monday night. Here are some of the highlights. This report is a little longer than our usual Wednesday message, but I hope you find this information as interesting as I did!
About 1/3 of the responses were from people who have worshipped with St.Thomas fewer than 5 years. We'll call these the "under 5s". About 2/3 were from people who have worshipped with St. Thomas 5 years or more. We'll call these the "over 5s".
During the pandemic, while we all worshipped from home, we began printing a full bulletin with all textsForms response chart. Question title: Is printing a full bulletin helpful to you? Check one.. Number of responses: 92 responses. and hymns. An unexpected benefit was the ability to use hymns and prayers not in our prayer book, but this obviously uses more paper and increases printing costs. We asked if printing a full bulletin helps people participate in worship. About 1/3 said they prefer a much shorter bulletin. About 1/3 said they prefer a slightly shorter bulletin. A little over 1/4 said they prefer for the bulletin to remain the same. A handful said they had no opinion or prefer to use the bulletin online. What's interesting is comparing these responses with how long people have worshipped with St. Thomas.
Prefer a full bulletin: 10 under 5s, 15 over 5s
Prefer a slightly shorter bulletin: 12 under 5s,18 over 5s
Prefer a much shorter bulletin: 7 under 5s, 24 over 5s
Prefer to use the bulletin online: 0 under 5s, 4 over 5s
No opinion: 1 under 5s, 1 over 5s
Vestry's take on these results is that a longer bulletin is helpful to our newer members. They suggest trying to reduce the length of the bulletin somewhat but not drastically. Worship committee will review comments and suggestions and discuss possible changes to the bulletin after the first of the year.
During the pandemic, we began mailing a printed copy of our seasonal newsletter to everyone on our mailing list. It was important for people to receive information from St. Thomas at home on a regular basis. We were delighted to hear that you do read the newsletter. 45 said they read every word, and 43 said they skim it. Only 4 said they rarely or never read it. 58 said they keep a copy at home to refer to upcoming activities. We then asked how people prefer to receive the newsletter.
Mail - 31
Pick up at church - 18
Email - 32
No preference - 11
Quite a variety! Vestry asked staff to discuss the feasibility of creating a system that will give people a choice about how to receive the seasonal newsletter. Stay tuned!
During the pandemic, once we were able to resume sharing communion in both kinds (with bread and wine), we began offering the option to receive a wafer dipped in the chalice by a server, which avoids putting multiple hands in the chalice. When the common cup was authorized again by our bishop, we continued to offer the option of receiving a wafer dipped in the chalice by a server, along with the option to dip (intinct) the wafer in the chalice yourself or drink from the chalice. We asked whether to continue offering the option of receiving a wafer that has been dipped in the chalice by a server.
48 responded "Please continue this practice. I am not comfortable receiving communion any other way."
16 responded "Please continue this practice when health conditions warrant it, such as during cold and flu season."
21 responded "I do not prefer to receive communion this way, but I am glad it is available for those who do."
7 responded "I think it is time to stop offering this option."
Clearly, we need to continue this practice at St. Thomas, but we do want to do so reverently. It helps if you receive the dipped wafer with your fingers rather than on your palm. Note that this is not a common practice in the Episcopal Church, but many at St. Thomas seem to find it helpful. A few people noted in the comments that they prefer to drink or intinct themselves from the shared chalice, but on Sundays when they are not feeling 100% they receive a wafer dipped in wine by a server. This is a good practice for all of us! Additional comments and suggestions will be shared with the worship committee.
A generous gift from Clifford and Bobsie Swift launched a strategic planning process in 2022. The initial goal of the process was to improve the accessibility of our campus and help St. Thomas continue to grow. Three proposals have emerged so far. These were shared with the congregation at a meeting on October 23. Of the 92 responses in the survey, 74 had heard about these proposals already, and 18 heard about them through this survey. The next stage in our strategic planning will focus on outreach to the community.
The first proposal is for a new lift by the Columbarium.
63 responded "A new lift is needed as soon as possible."
16 responded "A new lift is needed when the current lift becomes completely inoperational."
0 responded "A new lift is not needed."
13 responded "I have no opinion."
The second proposal is to extend the driveway near the Chapel and add a covered entrance and some handicapped parking spaces there.
47 responded "I have seen the proposed design, and I think this is needed."
31 responded aid "I have not seen the proposed design, but I think this is needed."
9 responded "I am not sure if this is needed."
1 responded "I do not think this is needed."
4 responded "I have no opinion."
The third proposal is to create space for the choir and organ console downstairs. This would allow choir members who struggle with the steps to continue to sing and also open up the choir loft for additional congregational seating. We would work with a liturgical artist on the design so that it functions well for worship and maintains the beauty of the space.
41 responded "I have seen the proposal; I think this is needed; I think we’re heading in the right direction."
10 responded "I have seen the proposal; I think this is needed; I have some concerns."
22 responded "I have not seen the proposed design, but I support the idea in principle."
12 responded "I am not sure that this is needed."
4 responded "I do not think this is needed."
3 responded "I have no opinion."
We still have quite a bit of work to do to finalize these proposals, but it was helpful to hear from the congregation at this stage in the process. All of your comments and suggestions will be shared with the Strategic Planning Committee.
Prior to the pandemic, St. Thomas hosted an annual yard sale in the parish hall. It was a great way to meet our neighbors, build friendships within the congregation, and raise funds for outreach or building projects (usually $7,000 or so). We asked whether there was interest in holding a yard sale this spring.
19 responded "Yes, and I might be able to volunteer to price items."
24 responded "Yes, and I might be able to help out on the day of the sale."
17 responded "Yes, and I might be able to shop."
9 responded "Yes, but I will not participate."
2 responded "No, I don’t think we should have a yard sale in 2023."
21 responded "I have no opinion."
We will share this information with people who worked on the yard sale in the past and let you know if we decide to hold one in the spring.
Thank you again for taking the time to share this information. If you would like to see additional graphs of these results email the church office and Meg can share with you. Please continue to pray for our staff and leaders as we discern a path forward in ministry together.