by Mike Roberts, Church Historian
Recently we were saddened by the news of the passing of Rev. Elinor Artman, who served as our minister for a period that covered all of the 1990s, part of the 80s, and into the early 21st century.
At the conclusion of each of her years of service, Elinor offered an annual summary of the church’s business for that calendar year. Here is her summary for 1992, posted on April 18, 1993:
It has been another year of growth and transition. Of course, any institution that is healthy is always in a year of growth and transition. Sometimes we get caught looking at the trees instead of the forest, and that is important too. But I would like to put things in perspective.
When I first came here, almost five years ago now, I read all of our available historical minutes – more than fifty years of them. Here are some recurrent themes from those actual minutes: the vacuum cleaner doesn’t work; the organ needs repair; the steeple is in poor shape; the furnace quit; the choir wants more money; the minister wants a salary increase; the roof leaks; a new sign is needed; the new sign needs repair; the stained glass windows need repair; check out the cost of the insurance on the property; and just how DO we attract new members???
So is anything new? Well, yes! Our membership has tripled – we are hovering around 100, and the church school, which once could be counted on the fingers of one hand, now numbers seventy. Several Sundays this year we have had over 150 souls here – adults, children, youth.
Last year was the year we finally got our sign lit. This year was the year of the new chairs – not a moment too soon. And by next year we will have doubled the parking lot. Lots of enthusiasm, commitment and energy – continually sustained by our long-time members, and continually renewed by the new members pouring in our doors.
This year, we lost two of our very long-time members. Clara Hasemeier died at the age of 100 last July. Bob Vickers died in February. Both had been members of this Universalist congregation for almost forty years. They are sorely missed.
We have had the best pledge drive we have ever had–and that includes what I learned from those fifty years of minutes–and financial stability seems to be within reach. The choir is outstanding, the music being an integral and unifying force in our spiritual life together. The Heirloom is the finest newsletter in the District, some would even say in the denomination. I could go on but I’m sure other annual reports will fill you in.
Sure, there is still much work to be done. But our foundation is solid now and creative days lie ahead.