As part of our on-going commitment to engagement and transparent communication, we’re writing to update you on our current efforts related to St. Bart’s Strategic Plan. Since January, we’ve been continuing our planning work related to our beautiful building while simultaneously focusing on the other key pillars of the Plan.
Pillar 1 finds its meaning in Ephesians 4:15-16, which reminds us that we are called to “promote the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” As part of building up St. Bart’s, we’ve undertaken several initiatives to ensure that the Church is positioned to thrive well into the future. Our people are the heart and soul of St. Bart’s, and we want to ensure we’re investing in and supporting them to grow as professionals. To that end, we’ve instituted a performance management system for our non-clergy staff, which includes quarterly goal-setting and twice-yearly evaluations. We’re automating processes in our finance and human resources departments to both streamline costs and improve efficiency. Being good stewards of our resources challenges us to find innovative ways to work, including exploring new technology options and database management systems to more seamlessly connect our team and the parish.
Given that our 2022 stewardship efforts were behind our mission plan goal, we are approaching Pillar 2, achieving financial stability and increasing giving, with increased focus and vigor. We’re pleased to report that as of February, the number and amount of pledges year-to-date is ahead of last year. The Development Committee of the Vestry recently held a retreat to reflect on these mission critical efforts, create working groups focused on accelerating stewardship efforts and is already planning ahead for the pledge campaign for 2024 which will begin this fall. Additionally, stewardship staff and volunteers are committed to adding five new members to the Mosaic Society this year and the Sacred Music Campaign will kick off in late April.
Pillars 3 and 4 focus on growing and diversifying membership and boosting parish engagement and our Parish Life and Newcomer Engagement teams have been busy extending a radical welcome to all. They recently conducted the Pathfinders course for over 40 individuals in person and online who are seeking to learn more and engage more deeply with the Anglican tradition. In mid-April, we will host the Pilgrims and Pathfinders Retreat to immerse our newest members in two days of prayer, worship and fellowship. We are excited to announce a pilot of Imagine Worship NYC beginning on May 4 and running for consecutive Thursdays through June which will bring a modern approach to liturgy and music and offer significant lay participation. Finally, average in-person and online Sunday attendance in February ’23 surpassed 2020 rates –it’s truly a blessing to know so many are experiencing St. Bart’s liturgies.
In terms of fully leveraging our building and mission supporting activities (Pillar 5), we continue to develop creative ways to promote and capitalize on the incredible treasure that is our historic space. As a reminder, in 2022, our mission supporting activities brought in approximately 28% less revenue as compared to 2019. Therefore, we’re taking important steps to ensure we’re building upon the success of the past and driving towards a better future. We’ve analyzed our rental rates and right-sized them in order to be more competitive and aligned with our space offering. We’re in conversation with Inside Park about how the café can thrive as we emerge from the pandemic. We’ve created enhanced marketing materials to more fully capture and convey the majesty of the building and all we have to offer. We’re amplifying our space in order to reach new audiences by partnering with event industry leaders like Abigail Kirsch Catering. Our gym and pool are attracting new clients looking for basketball leagues and swimming classes. The preschool is busy recruiting students for the school and the playgroup for the ’23-’24 school year and we’re seeing significant interest in our summer camp.
Regarding Pillar 6, capitalizing on digital trends, we are pleased to share that since March of 2022, the number of followers on our top four social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok) has grown by 44% with over 15,000 subscribers across our platforms and if you’re not following us, please do so! We are reaching audiences far and wide and expanding the St. Bart’s community so that our message of transforming lives, transforming the church and transforming the world echoes for all to hear and receive.
The progress we’re seeing across the Strategic Plan Pillars is made possible by the prayers and support of our extraordinary clergy team and all of you. We’re heartened by what we’ve achieved in the past few months and are optimistic about what the spring and summer will hold. Please continue to pray for St. Bart’s as we diligently work to strengthen our spiritual home.