I feel a twinge guilty reporting that I’ve spent the last five days in Florida, knowing how miserable the weather has been in the midwest!
Last spring when we were working with our capital campaign consultant Bea Stoner, she said, “Kelly, if you receive your sabbatical grant, you simply must visit our church: the Community Church of Vero Beach…” She wanted me to see the church she and Don belong to because they love it and are proud of it, because it’s one of the largest congregations in the UCC, and because she thought I would find much from which to learn.
Doug and I worshiped this morning at the church’s 9:30 AM service, then I went back for the end of the 11:05 service and had lunch with three of the ministers on staff and two spouses.
The facility is beautiful in every way, updated, and well-maintained. Here are some pictures.
Coffee Hour after the 9:30 service welcomed new members and was held in the courtyard of the church. First is a view from above.
Because of all of the snowbirds, they hold their Stewardship campaign during the winter. This banner was hanging in the courtyard; you can see they’ve almost met their pledge goal:
And here are some pictures from inside the sanctuary, which seats 1000:
The chapel seats around 120 and is used for small weddings, funerals, and the 8 AM service:
Here are some shots from around the facility:
Vero Beach is primarily a retirement community. The people who are not retirement age are employed in “the retirement industry”, (a term I wasn’t previously familiar with) which refers to people in health care, rehab, insurance, and financial management. The clergy I met with said that there is virtually no middle class in this community. Those who retire in Vero Beach are people of means. Then there are people who work in the service/tourism industry as hotel maids, etc.
There is a strong youth program at this church, though — I will send pictures separately of the Sunday School and youth areas of the church. The parents of the youth are asking for an alternative to the traditional worship, so this fall the congregation will initiate a new service at 9:30, a service to be held concurrently with the sanctuary service; its home will be the community hall (the picture above with the round tables.) The leaders have not yet determined many details of that service, including the question of who will preach and whether or not the sermon will be live or on video. They were very interested in hearing about our recent experiences with worship.
As was the case last week, I am taking quite a few notes…some ideas I will be sending to different folks at ALUCC. I’m grateful for my colleagues in these first two church visits who have been generous in sharing their time, answering my questions, and engaging in dialogue about life in the Protestant mainstream in 2013.
Next week I will fly to St. Louis, then drive to Brentwood Christian Church in Springfield, Missouri. My thoughts and prayers, as always, remain with the community at 32801 Electric in Avon Lake, and I am grateful for the bonds that exist despite distance.