by Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter

Presbytery of Cincinnati, it’s 2021!!  Hallelujah!

We are working to align and update the communication streams out of the Presbytery office – the Sampler and the website. To connect ourselves across the Presbytery even further, we’re opening up a BlogSpot on the website – pastors and members can submit blogs to DawnMarie@cpresby.org and we’ll put a new one out every week.

For this inaugural one, I thought it might be time for a report on the “State of the Presbytery”.

Membership statistics for the years 2018-2019 – the last year for which we have data, and the last year we were in person – showed the following:

  • 15 churches kept their membership the same
  • 11 churches increased membership
  • 35 churches decreased in membership – most by less than 7, but several by large numbers (likely indicating that they had gone through the rolls and eliminated people who were no longer actually members).
  • Overall, Presbytery membership decreased by 985 in 2019
  • We’ve only closed one church in the last 2 years
  • Despite the decrease in membership across the Presbytery, per capita was reduced in 2020 and we’ve kept it flat for 2021

Of course, membership isn’t the only indicator of health in the Presbytery! Since the beginning of 2019:

  • We sold the old Presbytery building and moved to a smaller location in Blue Ash, and brought in all new Presbytery staff and officers.
  • Presbytery Mission Funding
  • One Hopeful Fund: approved 16 grants in 2019 totaling $99,000 and 12 grants in 2020 totaling another $94,000 to fund the mission work of our churches. 
  • Digital Grant Program: more than $68,000 was distributed to enable congregations to improve their digital footprint and virtual worship capabilities. 
  • Synod Grants: Five ministries and one student within the Presbytery received grants totaling $12,000 from the Synod of the Covenant, and the Presbytery used an additional $8000 to fund two additional ministries from Synod per capita funds returned to us.
  • New Presbytery Ministries
  • We declared ourselves to be a PC(USA) Matthew 25 Presbytery, joined by several of our congregations.  Under that umbrella, we have initiated a Presbytery of Cincinnati Multicultural Racial Equity and Justice Force to create learning and dialog opportunities across the Presbytery. In addition, we are putting together plans for a poverty-based ministry.
  • We initiated our UKirk Campus Ministry at the University of Cincinnati in 2019 (the first in a few decades!). We hired Dr. Jonathan Sparks-Franklin as the Director, supported by a dedicated Board of Advisors.
  • We initiated a pilot study in collaboration with the organization Elemental Churches with 6 congregations to look at how we might work on leadership and strategic development to promote vibrancy and sustainability through fun ways to get at a long-term vision for what God is dreaming for these churches.
  • We were one of 90 entities (out of almost 900 applicants) awarded a Lilly Grant from the Lilly Foundation’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. This award was based on the pilot study and some learning we completed. The grant, for $1 million dollars over 5 years, will expand our pilot work and create new learning opportunities across the Presbytery.  To manage this, as well as consolidate all our learning opportunities, we have created the Presbytery Center for Learning.  You’ll hear a lot more on that in the future.

We are healthy.  We are serving the Lord.  Let’s keep our eyes on Him as we seek to work together to build His Kingdom here in greater Cincinnati.

Thank you for all you do, Presbytery of Cincinnati!