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Here is the Church, Here is the Steeple: Parish Survey Helps Us See all the People

by Nancy Nolan

Thank you for taking our 2019 parish survey! Almost 50% of our population took time to answer the questions either online or in print format, and we got some very useful data as a result. Here is a brief summary of learnings from that effort.

  • The top reasons people continue to attend are our welcoming, friendly parish; excellent clergy; music during the service; and spiritual benefits (including receiving communion).

  • People still rely heavily on the Sundries (88%) and Ministry Matters (84%) email for information, but also cite Ministry Moments (68%).

  • About 20% of respondents are interested in video recordings of the service, with another 34% who may be interested.

  • Outreach ministries most frequented are Findlay Street Neighborhood House (64%), Matthew 25 Ministries (58%), and Habitat for Humanity (41%), with Kairos Prison (26%) ranking fourth.

  • 40% of respondents don’t currently use InReach services. Those who do, use the prayer chain (36%), hospital or home visits (28%), and prayer shawls (22%) the most.

  • The most popular adult education program ideas were spiritual growth and enlightenment (74%), the Episcopal faith (40%), and living a fulfilling life as we age (36%).

  • People are generally pleased with our facility and surrounding grounds. Items most frequently written in for improvement include the need for more parking, improving entertainment needs in the Great Hall, and periodic professional landscaping.

  • Most people were unsure about the need to add a third service (39%). 36% of people think it would be a good idea to add a third service. People reported a preference for a Saturday 5 p.m. service (50%).

  • Nearly 50% of respondents said they were happy with the church as it is. Suggestions for improvement largely focused on elders’ needs and making an effort to include 8 a.m. in social gatherings.

  • 83% of respondents are married.

  • 16% of respondents are age 76 and above. 45% of respondents are age 61-75. 27% of respondents are age 46-60. 12% are age 19-45.

Approximately 30 people participated in three different town hall meetings concentrated on three different age groups: families with children, baby boomers, and retirees.

Common themes:

  • Spiritual growth is a priority.

  • Multigenerational interaction and experience is also a priority.

  • A minister dedicated to children and youth is desired.

  • The diversity of the parish is an attractive aspect of St. Barnabas.

  • Preparing our children to become comfortable with Episcopal liturgy is a goal.

  • Increasing interaction between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. people would be worthwhile.

Other key points made include:

  • We need silent moments during worship to pray or be contemplative.

  • We're looking for spiritual-based programs at convenient times, with child care.

  • The “sandwich generation” would benefit from more group activities of the similarly-aged.

  • Continued church growth is essential and needs us to embrace change.

  • Programs dedicated to learning about spirituality and also graceful aging are desirable.

  • Enhancing support of older members is important.

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