When the Connections Commission was formed in 2010, part of its mandate was to improve Christ Presbyterian's communications practices, both within the church and outside its walls. To this end, Commission Chair Ellen M---- put together a Communications Team to carry out this mission. Members of the Communications Team included Greg A----, Laura G----, Laura H----, John Heaton, Liz H----, and Elaine K----, with staff input from Pastor Glen and Gilda M----.
During its first year, the Communications Team worked on improving communications within the church. Initiatives undertaken or overseen by the team included a complete redesign of the church's website, making it easier to maintain and navigate; a reorganization of the area outside the sanctuary to make it easier to display and find information about upcoming events and to make room for a welcome center; improving Christ Presbyterian's presence on Facebook and Twitter; updating and expanding our congregational email list and starting a weekly announcements email; and an ongoing series of profiles of church members in Tidings.
The Communications Team intends to continue these initiatives and roll out others in the coming year, but we also intend to focus more on improving our external communications, especially with regard to the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood. We are the only church in the neighborhood, and we believe it would be both to our benefit and to the benefit of the community if we take a more active role in the life of the community.
That's not to say that we don't already have a good relationship with our neighbors. Our "Undie Sunday" project was undertaken after Pastor Dale met with the principal of Lapham Elementary to discuss how the church might be able to help the school, and was successful far beyond anyone's expectation. Jean-Rene reports that the neighborhood has been very supportive of our International Outreach Ministry; about half of the regular attendees of the Friday night English Conversation Time are Tenney-Lapham residents, and many have attended the International dinners held on the fourth Saturday of every month. Pastor Glen contributes articles about the church to the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association newsletter, and reports that several of our neighbors contributed to our Lights for Learning project. And the church regularly hosts TLNA meetings and community dinners, most recently their annual meeting and spaghetti dinner on October 20.
Nevertheless, the Communications Team feels there is room for improvement beyond what we've already accomplished. Our first major initiative in this area was the creation of an informational flier about the church that could be distributed throughout the neighborhood. Our goal was to get the flier out in advance of the church picnic in September, but what with one thing and another the week of the picnic arrived without them having been sent out. But thanks to the heroic efforts of a group of volunteers organized by Ellen M----, the fliers were distributed to nearly every household in the neighborhood in the two days before the picnic. We know of at least one family who has started attending services regularly whose first visit was prompted by that literature drop.
We will also be making an effort to keep our neighbors better informed of events at the church that may be of interest to them. Our initial efforts in this area have been aimed at promoting the October 30 harpsichord concert and to a lesser extent the October 26 Voter ID Question & Answer Session. Following these events, we will evaluate what of our promotional efforts worked and what didn't, and use that information to refine our approach for the future.
None of what the Communications Team has accomplished, nor what it hopes to accomplish in the futures, would be possible without the support of and contributions from the congregation. If you'd like to write for Tidings, have ideas about how we can improve our outreach to the community, or would be willing to assist in our promotional efforts, please contact John Heaton.