2021 ANNUAL REPORT TO THE CONGREGATION
Dear Beloved of God, Enclosed you will find the annual report for 2021. It was a difficult year in many respects, but it is my hope that as you read the reports from the various committees and groups you will be impressed with the hard work, dedication, and love that your leaders and members have accomplished through a tumultuous time.
Some of the people involved with this work are no longer participating in the congregation’s life. Still, we hold them in our hearts and prayers that they are where they need to be now, serving God with faithfulness and joy. For those who have remained and continued the mission and ministry of this congregation, I say “thank you!” We look back to remind us of what has happened and how it has shaped us as God’s people.
We look back to learn from our mistakes. Our past tells us who we were and who we are, which is necessary to our future together. However, the past does not define who we shall become. That is up to us and the Spirit. I look forward to discovering that with you as we create a new chapter in the congregation’s history. Peace,
Session Members in 2021: Dottie Anderson (resigned in February), Harrie Buecker, Elias Craigo-Snell, Clerk Polly Cushman, Erin Denny, Claudia Foulkes, Katharine Griswold (resigned August), Moderator Peggy Hinds (began December), Lucy Steilberg, Moderator Roger Veliquette (resigned August 2021), Bruce Whearty (resigned July), Doug Yeager
The year 2021 was tumultuous for our congregation and for your session. The COVID-19 pandemic called us to make decisions for the health of our community. One of those decisions led to the firing of our longtime and beloved music director, Debbie Dierks. The fallout from that decision led to Roger Veliquette leaving our congregation. So much remains unsettled for us. Through it all, your session strived to do our best, listen to God, act with empathy and kindness, and care for our whole church. Nevertheless, we recognize that we failed our community.
As all our energies were focused on surviving as a church, we are indebted to David Gibson, Jeanne-Marie Rogers, Todd Rogers, and Doug Yeager for keeping our worship going. We also thank the presbytery for supplying pastors to preach and moderate the session, and the Commission on Ministry for their support and care during our transition time.
We hired church musician David Gibson in September because of his significant experience helping heal fractured communities. David accompanies our worship services, leads our choir, builds our music library, and brings in musicians and singers. He also helps to prepare the sanctuary and helps whenever we are in need.
The session focused on identifying our transitional pastor because we knew how important this decision was. We felt fortunate and blessed to engage Peggy Hinds as our transitional pastor. She has spent hours meeting with individual members to get a sense of where we are. We have learned that there is no silver bullet, no one next step that will bring everyone peace. With Peggy’s leadership, we anticipate inviting the congregation to take a process of healing steps for 2022 and beyond.
Committee Members in 2021: Ada Asenjo, Erin Denny, Barbara Hedspeth, Mary Love, Rick Roderick, Jeanne-Marie Rogers (Chair), Gayle Trautwein, Jerry Van Marter, Doug Yeager
The year began with COVID-19 infection numbers so high that we continued to worship virtually via Zoom. To have live streaming of the service over Zoom, it was necessary to invest money in rewiring the sanctuary for internet capability. Our pastor Roger Veliquette possessed the technical knowledge to assist in making many of the changes we needed to begin live streaming. He was assisted by Todd Rogers and Doug Yeager. We also were then able to upload a recording of our service via Vimeo to our website. These changes were a major step in keeping our service accessible to the congregation members who were quarantined due to COVID-19. Even as we were able to return to face-to-face services the live streaming Zoom service has been used by about half our congregation and will no doubt become a permanent practice.
As vaccinations became available, we began to plan on having an outdoor gathering for the afternoon of Pentecost. It was a joyous and emotional time for many of our members who had not seen each other face to face in months. The Reopening Committee was charged with the decision-making around face-to-face services and mid-summer we came back to the sanctuary for worship with masks and social distancing measures being taken. The passing of the peace was done by asking members to stand in one spot and use hand gestures to communicate the peace. We developed a contact-tracing sheet for sign-in so that members in attendance could be notified if they had been exposed to an infected individual. Communion was taken with an individual prepackaged wafer and juice.
We filmed children pouring the baptismal water whenever possible and used those clips in the service. The need for social distancing proved a huge hurdle in organizing the elements of worship even when they were filmed.
Due to the absence of our former music director, and the grief and discord that followed, the issue of music in the service was a challenge. Various methods of working music into the filmed Zoom service were considered and tried, including the use of prerecorded music, paying a professional singer to prerecord songs for the Easter service, and the use of choir members to prerecord solos. Jeanne-Marie Rogers and Barbara Hedspeth submitted a proposal to the Personnel Committee for hiring an interim music director urging some prompt action on filling that role. Steps were taken and we were thrilled to welcome David Gibson as music director under a six-month trial contract in September. He restarted the choir, however many of the choir members had left our congregation or were choosing to “step back” from active participation in church functions. With four-to-five members the choir began to sing on Sunday, and Advent was blessed with live music in a face-to-face worship service. However, COVID-19 infections began to rise again, and we ended our year with a return to live streaming Zoom services with music being provided by David.
Our greatest challenge was the resignation of our pastor Roger Veliquette in August. Jeanne-Marie Rogers was instrumental in assuring that we had someone to preach and that the services continued. The Worship Committee lost some key members in the wake of this disruption. The presbytery assisted with providing preachers and minister members assisted as well. The worship budget was frozen in response to the reduced revenues from donations. Our new music director David Gibson also played an active role in assuring the services continued after his arrival in September. On December 1 we gladly welcomed our transitional pastor Rev. Dr. Peggy Hinds. While we sighed in relief at the addition of our new leadership, we were saddened when Jeanne-Marie announced that she would be leaving on January 1 to assume the position of music director at another church.
I have not been a member of the Worship Committee very long, and I took over as chair in January. To do this report I reviewed each month of the 2021 minutes and by the end of it I had tears in my eyes. It was the story of a church struggling to keep its heart beating while the systems around it were failing and the world was in a type of chaos we have never known before. It took incredible flexibility and ingenuity and countless hours of work (as well as Zoom and related technology) to adapt so that we could persevere and have worship every week without fail. That we have moved through this, to a place of relative peace and stability, is a miracle that is proof that God is with us. I was not a member of the committee very long and can certainly not take any credit, but the members of the Worship Committee should be thanked with the deepest gratitude for what they accomplished. We owe so much to Jeanne-Marie Rogers for her calm, levelheaded leadership in the worst of times and the countless hours she spent getting us from one worship service to the next.
Barbara Hedspeth, Chair
Nurture Committee members began the year committed to helping our congregation weather the trying times from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Sandra Duverge, Bev Machin, Eric Proctor, Todd Rogers, Erin Veliquette, Bruce Whearty and I were joined by two new members: Debbie Dierks and Elias Craigo-Snell, our representative from session.
We knew that as long as COVID-19 was rampant it would eliminate or alter many usual activities and make it harder to nurture our members. We did not know the need for nurturing would be even greater as 2021 became perhaps the most difficult year in our church’s history. Besides the impact of the global pandemic our church was rocked by major staffing changes, the deaths of longtime members, and our responses to all that happened within our beloved church. We did our best to reach out to members by calls, cards, a weekly Zoom gathering for support, and distanced visits to those in need. COVID-19 eliminated other normal activities that might have helped to ease the pain we were all enduring. There were no social activities, potluck meals, confirmation class, youth trip to Montreat, or church picnic. It often seemed that the grief was never-ending, one loss compounded another. The impact was heavy on the whole congregation, and it took a toll on our committee too. Bringing up these congregational losses again for this report is extremely hard, but they are a part of our church’s history that none of us will ever forget. I choose to report them here because I believe they reflect the challenges that we on the Nurture Committee faced in 2021.
The sudden January dismissal of Debbie Dierks as director of music had a devastating impact on our church. She had served faithfully with us for 36.5 years and spent untold hours nurturing our children, alongside her beloved husband, Lewis Washington, and their now adult children, Jessie and Ryan. As a result of her termination, many members became inactive, a deacon and an elder resigned, and some members moved their memberships. Not only did we lose Debbie from the Nurture Committee but two others for personal reasons.
Roger Veliquette’s August 8 resignation as our pastor also came suddenly after only two years of a promising position in his new career. In his leaving we also lost the active participation his wife, Erin, and their children—Oliver, Julien and Abigail—had given to our congregation. Roger’s Pastoral Associate Deborah Fortel also resigned. Several other church members and two other elders left. With Erin’s departure and those of our co-chairs, the Nurture Committee was reduced to only three members for the rest of the year.
These losses were devastating to our church. At the end of 2021, there were still far more questions than answers about how all these actions could have happened. Yet reflecting back, we marvel that in the midst of all of the pain, God still enabled many wonderful accomplishments:
Submitted by Soni Castleberry
2021 Personnel Committee Members: Harrie Buecker, Stephanie Gregory, Jim Hubert, Rick Roderick, and Andrea Trautwein
In January 2021, after several months of meetings, the Personnel Committee terminated Debbie Dierks’ employment. On January 29, the Committee met with the Session, who affirmed the decision of the Personnel Committee, and voted to extend the severance benefits from two months to one year (through January 2022). (Because of delays, severance payments went through February 2022.)
We conducted a congregational survey to review the work of Pastor Roger Veliquette. We also did a performance review for Faith Grady.
The Committee planned for Faith Grady’s parental leave, which was March 18 through June 18, and how to cover her duties. We are grateful to the staff and volunteers who took on these duties.
In consultation with Worship Committee, we wrote a job description and interviewed for an interim music director. David Gibson was hired in September.
Roger Veliquette asked for a dissolution of his pastoral relationship with the congregation in late July. This request was approved by the session and the congregation, and Pastor Veliquette left in August. By a vote of the congregation, he received severance payments through February 2022.
We received the resignation of church treasurer Elaine Trautwein in August with much gratitude for her faithful service. Jack Marcum agreed to serve as acting treasurer with Alan Pauw as co-treasurer.
The committee began work on a harassment/grievance policy that has not yet been completed.
The presbytery sent a letter to minister members of the presbytery in February sharing a policy that had been approved by the presbytery stating that teaching elders shall not be members of congregational personnel or nominating committees. As a result, Jim Hubert, acting according to the new policy, resigned his position.
The Committee did not meet again until January 2022 when new members were elected. Thank you to past members who were gracious in sharing their recollections and documents with the new pastor and new members of the Committee.
The Outreach Committee lost several members of our team by leaving the church, leaving town, or choosing to step back for now. We would like to take this time to honor the gifts that these people have given to the Outreach team of CHPC: Molly Casteel, Gary Cook, Katharine Griswold, and Eva Stimson. Each of these brothers and sisters of CHPC were invaluable and dedicated to the work of Outreach. Remaining Committee members were Perry Chang, Claudia Foulkes, and Ben Langley.
As most of you know the Outreach Team provides spiritual support, and financial support, to many groups that have sought us out or that we have chosen to support in their wonderful work in our community. Here is a list of those groups and reports on the work they have done in 2021.
The Friendship Circle for the Lainez-Medina family:
We are happy to share that both German and Kalen have jobs and have moved into a new apartment which is much larger and cleaner. With the help of the Friendship Circle, the family is now receiving SNAP Benefits and have secured medical cards. The family has been extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support from CHPC. The financial commitment to the family has come to an end. Our commitment to the family remains strong although COVID-19 has made it difficult to maintain the same connections we had with them prior to COVID-19. Many of us on the Outreach Committee remain in contact with the family and assist the family when advocacy is needed or just to simply check in with them.
The Guatemala Connection:
The Guatemalan Connection gathered by Zoom periodically throughout 2021. We also stayed in contact with our partners in Guatemala’s Q’equchi’ Estoreno Izabal Presbytery by phone, video call, and Facebook Messenger. Sadly, they continued to suffer from the pandemic, political/economic instability, and climate disruption. Connection folks encouraged the church to pray for an individual group or congregation within Estoreño Presbytery each week. Estoreño folks also prayed regularly for CHPC, our leaders, and all of us—all the more so during the very difficult days of 2021. Because of CHPC turmoil, Connection folks informed our Guatemalan partners during the first half of the year that CHPC would not be able to provide the Presbytery with any financial support in 2021 (as we have done for the past few years) due to CHPC’s other urgent needs, and that continues to be the case. Unfortunately, due to this situation, the difficulties in holding events such as our previous Soup Spectacular, and our own energy levels, no fundraising was done this year.
The Spirit of Sophia:
The Spirit of Sophia had a very busy and meaningful year offering women spiritual experiences. Fifteen different programs met a total of 65 times during 2021, with 403 unique women registered. All programs were virtual except for our special program, “A Service for Loss and Hope,” that we were able to offer in-person in the chapel of St. Matthews Episcopal Church in August. In addition, we offered three racial justice workshops free of charge, presented four programs with international speaker/retreat leaders, created a new Enneagram Circle, and participated in Give for Good Louisville as well as presented “Women Create”—a fundraiser that shared the talent of 12 fabulous spoken word and visual artists as they interpreted women’s spirit.
On November 21 CHPC hosted a Build-A-Bed event entitled “Building Community While Caring for Community.” We had at least 50 members and friends of our church come together to build 25 beds for children in our community who did not have a bed of their own. Many of these children where either sleeping on the floor or were coming out of foster care but needed a bed to be reunited with their natural family. This was a beautiful event that bought our church family together during Thanksgiving, to look outside the walls of our church and bring rest and wholeness to our communities most “precious cargo,” our children. Our church lived out the verse from Psalm 4:8 that states, “I will lay down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
The Gun Violence Prevention Team:
This team is made up of members from many different churches and action groups. We have members from CHPC, Crescent Hill Baptist church, Highland Baptist church, and All Peoples Unitarian Church (formerly Thomas Jefferson Unitarian). Some of the members also belong to Moms Demand Action.
This past year we have met by zoom monthly to discuss the legislature, including upcoming House and Senate Bills. The members contact our local politicians to voice our support or our lack of support for the current bills. Some of our members have been in contact with Christopher 2X and others in support of their work in Louisville. We have also invited speakers to speak at our meetings about the work they are doing toward Gun Violence Prevention. Dontae from the Group Violence Intervention program in Louisville spoke to us and was very encouraging about the work they are doing.
Our group is very interested in becoming connected to other groups with a similar mission. We continue to educate ourselves on the activities and events happening in Louisville so that we might find more ways to support gun violence prevention in Louisville.
English Language Learners:
In 2021 there was a fall session of ELL. Due to COVID-19 precautions changes were made such as only providing wrapped snacks and drinks rather than the cooked meals. The time for the lessons were shortened to only one hour, rather than an hour and a half.
The Hope Buss:
Gayle Collins has been working with Executive Director Stachelle Bussy to get grants and funding for The Hope Buss organization. In 2021 Gayle wrote, and received, many grants to support the work of The Hope Buss:
Earth Care Team
The 2021 Earth Care Team: Barbara Barnes, Mark Barnes, Rebecca Barnes, Stephen Bartlett, Polly Cushman, Amy Linfield, Rick Roderick, Bruce Whearty, David Wilding, and Hilda Zuniga
The year 2021 started as 2020 ended, with COVID-19 making things difficult. In January one Earth Care Team member did an interview with Audrie Lamb, an intern at Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light (KIPL) about our congregation’s involvement in earth care issues and projects. It was aired on the KIPL blog. We continued our membership with KIPL and Presbyterians for Earth Care.
In March, two of our members led a 4-week series for the adult Sunday school class. One class was on the universe. Others addressed more practical things like soils, trees, and tropical shifting agriculture.
Stephen Bartlett tends the church’s community garden during the year. Anyone who wishes to help is welcome.
The Earth Day Sunday worship service on April 18 focused on Environmental Justice. The liturgy and the sermon used the Creation Justice resources entitled “A New Heaven and a New Earth.” Many other services recognized the environment and climate change as issues of faith. Leading up to Earth Day Sunday, a member wrote an article for the newsletter reminding the congregation about the Earth Care Covenant and giving a link to the actual Covenant on the denomination webpage.
The Earth Care Team helped prepare a class on planting seeds for the children’s Sunday school. Members prepared kits for each child with paper cups, soil, and seeds. Stephen Bartlett wrote a sheet to go with each kit with step-by-step directions. He and Mark Barnes made a video showing the church garden and how to plant the seeds at home. The kits were distributed to each child the day before the Zoom class.
Bruce Whearty led the class about seeds on April 26, using the video and showing the pots. We had reports that children loved it. Bruce also has continued taking pictures on his daily walks and providing them through email to anyone who wishes to receive them. Each day he sends them out along with a brief devotional about the environment. Many people both in the congregation and outside it are blessed by the daily reminder of God’s creation.
During the year, three members participated in a four-week course presented by Presbyterian Climate Activists. Also, we often raised prayer concerns in worship regarding the environment. Many months these were included in the prayers for two or three Sundays.
We were unable to meet as a team during the summer and fall for various reasons. However, we continued periodically to share relevant reading material, including books, articles, and websites with each other through email.
During the coming year, we hope to continue raising awareness of the wonder and beauty provided to us by God. We have discussed continuing many of the activities from 2021. We also hope to update our presence on the church’s website, which is currently being upgraded. We recognize the critical urgency of restoring God’s creation so all beings can enjoy it.
Once again, the pandemic did not deter Presbyterian Women from meeting monthly (via Zoom). And, once again, we broke with our age-old tradition and met during the summer—without an agenda! However, the lack of in-person meetings resulted in a limited number of activities in which we could participate. We were able to:
Come and join us on the second Tuesday of the month. We pray, study the Bible, care for one another, and have a lot of fun (even by Zoom). We always delight in expanding our Circle.
Submitted by Diana Stephen
Stewardship of God’s Resources Committee
For 2021, the following individuals were members of the Stewardship Committee for at least part of the year: Stewart Bridgman (chair), Harrie Buecker (session representative), Dave Bush, Stephanie Gregory, Jack Marcum (acting treasurer), Alan Pauw (co-treasurer), Elaine Trautwein, David Wilding, and Doug Yeager (session representative).
The Stewardship Committee oversees two major areas in the life of the congregation: (1) finances and (2) building/grounds. Here are some highlights from the year in each area.
Building and Grounds:
Submitted by Stewart Bridgman and Jack Marcum
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