The following is an announcement from Minister and President The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, and follows emails of gratitude he sent yesterday to New Church Start Pastor Marie Lucca and supporting churches of A Different Christian Voice.
Dear friends and colleagues,
This week we received notice that one of the New Church Starts of the Conference is suspending its ministry. A Different Christian Voice, under the leadership of the Rev. Marie Lucca, has been exploring an innovative approach to worship and community in the Middleton area. Marie has used her talent and imagination for the last 18 months to birth this ministry. In that time they have sent mosquito nets to Africa, eyeglasses to Haiti and notes of encouragement and prayer to children at Beverly Hospital. They have connected with people of all ages in their conversation cafes (see Spotlight article).
The fact remains that one of the greatest challenges with all of our churches is funding. From the first moments that Marie came to the Massachusetts Conference Commission for Evangelism and Congregational Vitality, and then the Board of Directors, with her idea and business plan, it was clear that the Conference no longer had the capability to provide direct new church start funding. However, the Conference was able to provide support by paying the cost for ongoing coaching and liability insurance. Additionally, the Conference designated this ministry as one of four new designated giving options offered to churches through printed and online giving guides. Efforts were made to create a broad partnership with the Conference, the Association and the leadership of A Difference Christian Voice. With Conference assistance and her own tireless effort, Marie reached out to churches throughout the Conference to secure funding and resources. Unfortunately, the expenses of ministry outpaced the funds coming in. New church starts are challenging to sustain, and the ones that close are more numerous than the ones that remain.
We share with Marie the heavy heart that led to the decision to suspend this ministry. We share as well the perspective that there is much to celebrate in the successes of this ministry and the lessons learned from it. Our appreciation and prayers go to Marie and the leaders of this effort.