In this report, we reflect on where we have been and where we are going as a community following Jesus, seeking renewal in our city. The pastoral vision and hope we entered into 2015 with was, "life", that our lives would be found in Christ and that God would breathe life into us as a church. We will revisit 2015 and also look ahead towards 2016. We suggest you begin by watching the presentation below.
At our 2015 Annual Vision and Prayer we wanted to live into life as John 10:10 and John 20:30 describe. The past year was marked with great joys and celebrations along with deep sorrows and tragedy for our church. Along with the celebration of the birth of 31 babies, we also continued our tradition of gathering to hear testimonies and witness the baptism of our fellow brothers and sisters into the family of God. Baptism is a prayer that we make with our bodies where we present ourselves before God and His church as living sacrifices. We offered two classes in 2015 to help individuals discern if the baptism might be their next step of faith, and for 41 people it was!
God has always been faithful in providing us space as we have grown, and, 2015 was no exception. Our Sunday morning gatherings at Everett reached capacity (1,413) early in the year and we waited until we felt that our ministries were healthy enough to endure growth to open a second gathering. We pursued a small growth model that would foster intimacy and care as our ministries expanded incrementally. Our friends down the street at Dolores Park Church graciously opened up their doors to us and we launched night church in August!
Not only are we learning what it means to live a life in pursuit of Christ together on Sundays, but also together throughout the weeks in our Community Groups and multiple trainings and classes throughout the year.
Our church does not just happen when we gather on Sundays, it happens in the days between as we scatter throughout San Francisco and live life together. We saw groups grow in their care for one another as they experienced the joys, hardships, and tragedies of life, together. Both the open and in-session seasons for our CGs created a healthy rhythm for our groups to experience sustainable growth while deepening in intimacy with one another and with Jesus.
*When the Year of Biblical Literacy launched in January, we began 13 new groups which increased the number of CG leaders to 156, the number of CGs to 68, the number of people in CG to 1,635, and the percentage of Sunday attendance in CG to 91%.
Our Sunday volunteers stepped up in big ways this year. When we moved to Congregation Sherith Israel for our summer months and started our evening gatherings at Dolores Park Church in August, they helped make our transitions seamless and the spaces inviting. Our 12 volunteer teams are developing deep relationships with one another as they serve together.
In 2015, we hired Kevin Cooke as our Marriage and Family Pastor. Along with Marissa Hernandez, our newly appointed Children's Director, and Brian Kim our Assistant Children's Director, the Marriage and Family department introduced the following refined vision: "To partner with God in the renewal of SF through invested marriages and families in the city." We look forward to seeing how this vision comes to life by the power of the Holy Spirit as we work together as a community. We are excited to also work to build the foundations for a high school ministry we hope to launch in 2016.
Carrie Detrick came on staff as our Director of Local Ministry and Missions to help build long-term relationships with our local and global partners and t0 develop care for our missionaries and volunteers. This year, 48 volunteers were trained and released to serve within some of our amazing local ministry partners such as Because Justice Matters and Mission Grads. We are growing in our capacity as a church to hold, enter into, and care about the realities of the city as we feel the joy and pain of communities experiencing injustice in San Francisco. We are praying for God to increase our connection to the city as we join in what He is already doing through our missionaries and ministry partners.
We as a church are learning how to live with generous hearts. Not only did our church grow in size, but we also grew in generosity in 2015. We exceeded our 2015 giving goal of $2.90M by 21%. As a result, we are able to invest more financial resources into our vision of being a community following Jesus, seeking renewal in our city by partnering financially with amazing local and global ministries.
Although we ran 3% over our planned expenses in 2015, over half of that amount was due to our unexpected move to Congregation Sherith Israel for the summer while Everett Middle School underwent renovations. We also spent more than we anticipated it would cost for additional equipment and operational supplies needed to accommodate our church when we launched our evening gathering at Dolores Park Church.
With our $3.5M board approved giving goal in 2016 and $480K of our 2015 surplus, we have hopes of continuing to pour into our local and global partners and also further developing a few exciting initiatives to help us live into our vision. We also have plans to reconfigure our workspace at our Reality SF offices on Bryant Street to be a ministry center. Please join us in prayer for each of these initiatives. Pray for our church to stay true to our dependence on Jesus to guide our church to bring forth His vision in San Francisco.
Your Kingdom come, your will be done in San Francisco as it is in heaven. May you use us, your church, to be salt & light in this community and thus show what you are like in the world. To the praise and glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.