2020-21 Church Year Annual Report - Pastor Phil Manson
One year ago, on March 15, 2020, we cancelled all in-person gatherings for worship and Bible study, thinking we’d ride it out for a month or so, and then life would return to its former rhythms. As time inched on, we were fearful that folks would fall away from, not only the fellowship of the church, but the faith altogether. We wondered how we were going to stay connected in this time of extended isolation. We were concerned when our first month of giving was $20,000 or 23% less than the same time last year. We became leery of anybody and any surface, any air anywhere that might be carrying the invisible infectious virus with its name shortened to be called Covid-19. And people tangled over toilet paper.
For the first time in my pastoral career, I wore short pants to the office. I couldn’t go anywhere to visit in homes or pray with the sick in hospitals (including my own mother), couldn’t meet with people in restaurants; no Bible studies in our home; all meetings, conferences and training events were cancelled. And nobody wanted to come to the church…on any day. It became a year of pencil planning… nothing was calendared in ink. We were constantly cancelling & experimenting, purging & expanding, meeting online only, then outdoors & online, then in-house greatly spaced & masked, along with online with all the risks of glitches associated with technology.
This was a year when we said ‘see you later’ to Joan Wagner, Helen Pugh, Betty Dean, Dave Porter, Lil Woodworth, Barney Richardson, Pat Worrix, and Pat Manson as they marched into the Church Triumphant. We had to figure out how to grieve and care without touching or hugging or gathering…like you did for the funeral of my mother, 50-60-70 cars driving through Forest Cemetery in Circleville on the Thursday following Easter last year. We baptized four, and received five new or transferred members into the church.
Well, we know it was more than a normal year of trouble, and many have lost heart in a variety of ways. But Jesus said, be of good cheer…take heart. Take heart in what God has been doing in the life of PickNaz. In 2019, we averaged 425 inhouse, online, and assisted-living worship. In 2020, as best we can calculate, we averaged 782, with our livestream and online reach greatly multiplied. Let praise arise!
Thanks to the yearlong work of Aaron VanValkenburg and our music & tech team, we were able to livestream and go online-only right from the start of the shutdown. Greg Litchfield made it possible for us to expand our video capabilities, and he had a faithful camera crew to livestream the services. Eric DeVoe served every week on sound, while Jim McNamara operated the slides. Brandon Hetzler greeted and chatted with those who checked in via the livestream. The PickNaz music team went above and beyond to lead us in praise to the Lord.
On Monday, March 16th we launched Morning Prayer, a 5-minute Monday-Friday devotion and prayer from the pastor to keep the PickNaz body connected & encouraged in an environment where everybody’s world had been turned upside down. When the trouble continued longer than we expected, it evolved into a weekday discipleship & prayer outlet based on the Sunday sermon text. It averages over 1,600 views per week. We have people we don’t even know, who’ve never been inside this building who call PickNaz their church. Let praise arise!
The Lord’s faithfulness continues to overwhelm us when we consider that in a year of extended shut-down, this is the highest income year in the 38-year history of the church. Over $1,019,000 was given. We applied for & received a $74,900 Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loan through the SBA that was completely forgiven. We were also recipients of an $89,763 gift from the estate of a faithful congregant. The timing of that gift helped offset the replacement of the 5-HVAC units at a cost of $95,270. These are all praiseworthy of the overcoming presence of Jesus Christ in times of trouble. Let praise arise!
What I’m about to say might sound like I’m throwing a wet blanket on this praise, but the reality is, it is just as praiseworthy! As you know, most likely we’re not going to receive income from another PPP forgivable loan or a large gift, nor will we continue the expense of replacing the HVAC units every year. If we subtract the one-time gifts from our income, our giving was impacted by $120,000 or down 12% from the previous year. However, when we subtract the one-time HVAC expense, our expenses declined by $152,000 or 16% from the year before. That’s good news…our income was down but the expenses were down even more.
At the church year ending in 2019 we had a bank balance of $393,094. At the end of 2020, our bank balance increased to $437,808. At the church year just ending in Feb, 2021, our bank balance is $591,483. Some might wonder why we have so much in the bank. The terms of our mortgage loan requires that we maintain somewhere around $350,000 in our account at the year end, which we’re happy to do because the interest rate on the loan at this moment, is in the range of .2-.5% on an outstanding loan of $2.39M. Let praise arise!
We are thankful for the faithful and flexible leadership of our church staff and board: Calvin Green, Aaron VanValkenburg, Brad Crumbacher, Tiffany Manson, Heidi Wigtil, Cathy Manson, Terry James; Board: Brad Carson, Larry Lippencott, Sheila Majewski, Terry Garner, Eric DeVoe, Josh Mason, Janet Cundiff, Olyvia Frederick, and Kat Paugh. We’re grateful for the continued service of Les Last, church treasurer, and Johnna Hurley, church board secretary.
The Covid-19 pandemic packed the potential to pull the church apart, but the congregation of PickNaz has embodied what we’ve been discovering through Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi: in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
How did you do that? For several weeks a couple in the church delivered milkshakes every week to some of our widows and folks who were alone as a way of checking on, encouraging, and keeping in contact with them. A young mom started a Facebook group that now has 39 or so other moms to bridge the isolation gap that was further widened by on-line school with children in the home. These kinds of things were happening and continue to happen, not because of top-down leadership, but ground-up. Yes, in your relationships with one another you found a way, in humility and obedience to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever, Amen. (Eph 3:20-21) Let praise arise!
Calvin Green, Executive Pastor
Our hospitality team, led by Terry and Teresa Garner, were busy each week with welcoming people into our church and making sure there were masks to wear and hand sanitizer to use. We went from shaking hands and hugging to elbow bumps or a simple nod of the head. The team did a great job of adjusting from outside services to inside. I am so thankful for this team!
The Usher team, led by Norm Jones, did a fantastic job! The team worked extremely hard to make sure everyone felt welcomed and were seated comfortably with proper distancing. Because of COVID-19, we went to a hand full that have been with us through it all. Thank you for serving the Lord and going over and beyond what is asked of you!
Our Safety Team, led by Larry Gollon, kept us safe while the church services took place.
Thank you to all team members who faithfully served all year. With COVID-19, we still were able to cover the outside, inside and special services including Easter and the Fall Harvest party. Even with less team members available. Larry is thankful for the opportunity to serve a long side his team.
PickNaz Women’s Ministry were limited in providing our in-person events and gatherings. Despite the restrictions, ministry was happening in many big and small ways behind the scenes by caring, creative people to help meet the needs of others. We did corporately participate in the following two events.
In September, after reading together the book It’s Not Supposed to be this Way, by Lysa Terkeust we met in the Shelter House for three weeks for group discussion nights. The well-attended evenings provided great conversation and much needed fellowship.
In December, we partnered with Lower Lights Women’s Recovery Group to provide personal care bags to be delivered to Homeless women in the Franklinton Area. PickNaz ladies were very generous with their donations of personal items to complete these care bags.
PickNaz Men’s Ministry had to do a lot of maneuvering during the pandemic. We were able to participate in High Quest through FaceTime and Zoom. Men looked forward to that time because it gave us the opportunity to read the Word and pray together.
Christian Education was challenging in 2020. We started out in person then quickly moved to online. The month of May brought us a different opportunity, when we started meeting in person at the shelter house.
Buildings and Grounds led by Larry Lippencott, kept PickNaz looking fantastic. The mowing crew consist of Larry, Joni O’Connell and Scott Wallace. Be sure and thank them when you see them. Thanks to Tim Paugh we completed our LED lighting in the parking lot. New HVAC was installed in the Worship Center and Activities Center.
We purchased a hay wagon and restored it for outside services and the fall harvest party. Thanks to Larry Lippencott for all his hard work and making it the best-looking wagon in Fairfield County.
Brad Crumbacher, Youth Pastor
In July we began meeting out at the shelter house so we could be together while social distancing. The decision was made to move Wednesday night programing for the adults under the shelter house which necessitated the youth to move to Sunday evenings. This gave us greater flexibility while allowing us to avoid potential weather issues. We continued the spacing and cleaning procedures already being practiced for the church body on Sunday mornings.
Along the way we added Jason and Tara Parsons as well as Anthony Amburgey to our adult leadership team. They have all been great additions to an already amazing team. They jumped right in and formed solid connections with the team and teens, and we look forward to how they will add to the wonderful family culture we continue to try to build here at PickNaz.
SCO District Events – One of the most disappointing things of the year was the cancelation of many district events. Both District (Mar.) and Field (Jun.) Blast as well as Sonfest (Oct.) held at MVNU and our district Winter Retreat (Feb.) were canceled. Our teens always look forward to these events as they allow us to build relationships with people from across our district.
Summer Retreat @ Lakeside – Cancelation of Lakeside was a huge disappointment this year.
PickNaz Winter Retreat – We decided to have an “in-house” Winter Retreat due to the cancelation of District retreat. We had 26 teens join us for the 2-day event that had a worship band (Zack and Kristen Zaborski + Noah), a guest speaker (Bailey Medley from Grove City Naz), small group breakout sessions, games, food, and plenty of time to build relationships. It was a truly amazing event and we have received nothing but positive feedback as a result.
GAP – This college age and young adult ministry has been affected most by COVID-19 as well as graduation. So many have gone away to college or into the military. That coupled with the pandemic restrictions has made it difficult to meet on a regular basis. However, we were able to get together twice during December and once in February for amazing times of conversation and fun.
District NYI Vice President (5th year) – Our district NYI Executive Council spent all of 2020 trying to find creative and effective ways to keep everyone on the South Central Ohio district connected even through the pandemic. We have had several Zoom meetings/conferences and continue to dream and plan for the future.
Podcast – Ministry Chemistry, a weekly podcast hosted by me, Mike Roberts, and Renée Wilson, was going strong until we needed to take a break due to COVID-19 related issues in July. There continues to be new people listening to and connecting with the content in our 69 episodes to this point. We hope to resume recording sometime in the future.
Tiffany Manson, Kids Ministry
Along with many others, we had to find a way to communicate with others without meeting in person. Thanks to technology, Zoom and Google made it possible as we found ourselves staring at a screen for everything. But ministry? Relationships and meeting with others are essential as we disciple and guide the flock in their faith journey. Now what? God’s goodness remained faithful! He gave His wisdom and guidance as adjustments were made and children’s ministry continued reaching kids and families.
April 5, 2020 was the first launch of PickNaz Kids Online. This included components we would have during a typical in person Sunday with singing, Scripture memorization, some fun games and digging into God’s Word through teaching. I had been tinkering with video production prior to this and now I was in full production mode! Our creativity expanded as we added another component to our service: Kids in the Kitchen with Heidi.
While there was a learning curve to it all, there was an excitement that came with this new way of reaching families. The Wednesday night study through Genesis continued even though Bible quizzing was put on hold. Thanks to some fun video tools and filters, we had Bible Trivia with my face on a toilet paper roll!
While having face to face contact with others was minimal, we stayed connected with kids and families sending fun packets through the mail, putting together activity bags to pick up at the church, treats dropped off on porches and outside home visits.
We were thankful for the warm summer temperatures as we were able to plan some outside gatherings at the church. In June, July and August we had some much needed socially distanced fellowship time on the church playground inviting different age groups each month and enjoyed an ice cream treat.
We rolled into Fall knowing and planning for the positive changes ahead. After five months of PickNaz Kids Online, we made the decision to meet in person on Sundays and Wednesdays. We were also excited to announce the Fall Harvest Party would be happening and it was a great evening together. God’s faithfulness was evident.
Serving is part of who we are, and the pandemic did not stop our mission. This was our 10th year partnering with Fairfield County Job and Family Services adopting 15 kids and older adults in the Christmas church wide program “Project Wish List.” Once again, you, the church, gave to the least of these and were the hands and feet of Jesus.
With each new change and news report, I am not sure when I stopped asking God “Now What?” Instead, on my hands and knees I prayed “lead me, show me, and use me” for what is next. I give God all the praise and glory for a year of learning and trusting. So much was out of our control, but God remained faithful.
Doug Jenkins, Associate Pastor
Visitation: Due to Covid restrictions, hospital visitation was next to impossible to do.
Assisted Living Ministries: Since the shutdown, the ability to reach out to and minister in a consistent manner has been very difficult. By using Zoom, I have been able to hold our weekly church service at The Abbington on a consistent basis since May, but there have been several times that these services were halted due to quarantine protocols, these would last for at least two weeks for every positive test result, the longest being five or six weeks.
Sycamore Creek, being an independent senior living facility, has allowed me to have a Bible study in one of two formats: In warmer weather, we met in-person outside, observing social distancing and mask protocols, and then by Zoom during the winter months, So, since August 2020, we have had a consistent run of a weekly Bible study.
Amber Park, was completely shut down until November, when they decided that the residents need to have church services renewed in person. So, apart from a couple of weeks, we have been holding weekly services in person every week. Covid restrictions have greatly augmented how we do service, including the restriction of not being able to sing. So, I just play the hymns that they want to hear, and chuckle to myself as the residents sing anyway.
Carroll Place and Violet Springs are the only facilities that I have not been able to have any type of services since the Covid shutdown began in March.
As best as can be determined, we have been able to have a weekly average attendance for all types of service formats of 10 each week. (High and low points were 20/wk and 5/wk)
Young @ Heart: Jan Vohar began the year as our president, but she has moved to Virginia and Linda Butti has graciously assumed leadership of Young @ Heart. Unfortunately, the pandemic has limited our ability to get together to about 3-4 events during the summer. These, however, were well attended and received, averaging around 15 for each gathering at the shelter house.
Aaron VanValkenburg, Music & Worship
With all of the uncertainty of the early days, Sunday morning worship was limited to our staff and a small, committed team of musicians and tech volunteers. We moved cameras and all live-streaming and video equipment up close as we began experimenting with the best ways to capture our worship service. We used TVs as teleprompters, we put together an independent sound setup for all camera and production volunteers to communicate, we began experimenting with lyrics in the lower third of the screen, we tried out various forms of split screens to show scripture and images for the sermon. We legitimately tried something new EVERY week, and we learned what worked and what didn’t.
After Easter we kept going with Morning Prayer, but reduced Evening Hymn to once per week. We began using Zoom (online video conferencing) for adult bible study and youth group instead of sticking only to live-stream. On May 22 Evening Hymn concluded with “The Doxology” and we began focusing on a return to in-person worship outdoors. We went all in and mobilized our entire sound system (minus the two main speakers hanging from the ceiling!) so that we could worship together with a full band. And for three Sundays we did just that. Each week we moved our cameras, speakers, amps, monitors, instruments, microphones, and cables outdoors for worship. It was countless hours of careful planning and extra preparation each week, but we were together.
As the temperatures increased outdoors, we moved inside for worship for the summer. Given all the concerns about singing in close spaces, we spaced out chairs in the sanctuary and eliminated our vocal ensemble on stage in favor of spreading out all of our musicians across the stage. This meant an entire new stage setup and wiring. The new setup also gave us the opportunity to pivot to using in-ear monitors for all vocalists in addition to the band (who were already using in-ear monitors). Moving indoors also meant finding a new home for all the cameras and the sound board and the live-streaming equipment. It meant setting up the side room by the stage as a green room and a location for mixing live-stream audio.
Throughout the summer, we took advantage of our shelter house and held Wednesday night worship and devotions. We installed speakers (our old floor monitors) in the rafters of the shelter house and created a mobile sound cart to easily move equipment back and forth. We gathered in the shelter house till the end of October.
We worshiped on Sundays outside three more times in September when the weather cooled down. As we returned inside, we settled into a more permanent setup. Greg Litchfield gifted the church two cameras and stands (along with other needed equipment), and Ron Loar built a platform for one of them.
We made several upgrades to technology throughout this time. In early summer we upgraded our slides program to ProPresenter 7 in order to take advantage of its latest features (including MIDI automation and network video and graphic sends). By August we began using the industry standard software, Ableton Live, which now cues all of our click tracks, guides, slide cues, and even lighting. Over the past few months, we have installed an independent network (Cat6) to coordinate and sync all computers, and MIDI control devices so that Ableton can talk to ProPresenter and to the lights software. Though it has taken a while to fully learn and utilize these programs, we now regularly take full advantage of their capabilities and have automated lyrics and lights as desired.
This has been a year of learning on the fly, but I believe we have come out better because of it. It has been exhausting, and I look forward to some kind of return to “normal.” Nevertheless, things won’t just be the same, and I am glad that this past year has equipped us with many skills to serve going forward whatever may come.