Beloved Epworth Community,
By now you should have heard through announcements at church, email and US mail the news that Epworth is being joined with Trinity UMC in Berkeley in a configuration called a Two Point Charge. This new relationship will assist in the redevelopment of the Trinity UMC site for fruitful ministry and in the growth of both congregations.
Initially, both congregations will worship on their own sites, but after a few months of transition, Trinity will begin to worship on the Epworth site. This is a change to what was previously announced when we thought we would begin to worship together as soon as the two-point charge began.
As we prepare for this change, I want to ask you if you will intentionally and prayerfully make room in three ways: in the sanctuary, in parking and in your hearts. Research on churches shows that when a sanctuary becomes 75-80% full, it becomes an invisible barrier to growth. New folks come and can unconsciously feel, “There is no place for me here.” Our sanctuary’s capacity is around 200 in the lower level seating area, while average attendance right now is 154. That is 77% capacity!
We can make more room in the sanctuary by more fully utilizing our upper level balcony. If you are able to climb the steps to the balcony, please consider trying the view! I’d love to see 30 or so folks sitting in our balcony on a regular basis.
Epworth is what is known as “parking challenged.” We have very little parking adjacent to the building. If you are blessed with easy mobility, would you consider parking on some of the side streets, particularly the east end of El Dorado where the commercial businesses are not impacted by cars on a Sunday. [See map below.] Let’s leave the diagonal parking spots directly in front of the building for those who are mobility-challenged or new to the congregation.
Perhaps most importantly, I ask that you join me in preparing your hearts to welcome new siblings in Christ. I have always been proud that Epworth is an exceptionally friendly and conscious congregation. Please be on the lookout for new folks, remember to wear name tags and introduce yourselves, and offer to walk folks to their destination rather than explaining how to get there. We are working from the office to have even more signage so new folks can navigate the building. I am so excited about the coming together of our two congregations because I know there is a lot we can learn from each other.
Finally, I am thrilled that Rev. Brian Adkins will be appointed to our pastoral team at Epworth. Brian is a gifted pastor and leader who already has a heart for Epworth. At his current church, Brian has led an area-wide effort to establish the West County Freedom School, a summer literacy program originating from the civil rights movement in the 1960's. Brian also served on the 36 member Commission on a Way Forward for the United Methodist Church. He brings much in experience and faithfulness
I feel blessed to serve with Brian and look forward to getting to know Trinity with him and with you. I know that God’s vision of what we can do together is beyond our imaginings and that we have been brought together for a sacred purpose. What a blessing to be on this journey together.
With gratitude and love,