Oak Park - River Forest
Community of Congregations
2004 President's Annual Report
It has truly been a privilege and a pleasure to serve as your president during this past year. Both our community members and the Executive Committee have not only worked hard to carry out our mission, I believe we have worked well in our efforts to support and lift up the concerns of people of faith throughout both Oak Park and River Forest.
It is an honor to provide a list of some of our more important accomplishments achieved during 2004.
- We have an integrated financial report for the first time showing the revenues and expenses for each of our programs: The OP/RF Hunger Task Force, the Holiday Food and Gift Basket Program, and the Community of Congregations itself.
Each of these budgets ended 2004 in the black.
For the first time in too long a time we have been able to provide a salary for our Administrative Assistant, Pat Koko, St. Catherine/St. Lucy, on a regular basis. Everyone knows that we depend on Pat's unfailing service for our success and it is a genuine blessing to be able to say that this year she was paid in full for her efforts on behalf of the Community of Congregations.
- Our bylaws have been reviewed, updated, and approved, and we owe many thanks to Deborah Spector, Oak Park Temple, for guiding the task force. David Sokol, Oak Park Temple, who helped construct the bylaws in 1992 (when we became the Community of Congregations), also served as a consultant on the committee this year.
- The Food Pantry has been moved into a rent free space donated by First United, and has gone from serving an average of 50+ a week to an average of 70+. The increase in demand has prompted our faithful volunteer food pantry coordinators, Leah Beckwith and Karin Pietrini, both members of First United, to open the food pantry two Wednesdays a month in addition to the usual Saturday mornings.
- The Community of Congregations raised community awareness and kept Accolade Senior Center in a positive spotlight after it was to be dropped by Oak Park Hospital with little warning. Our efforts assisted this program, (the only one in our area to provide daycare for seniors with disabilities) to stay alive and well until Catholic Charities became its new sponsor.
- This year's Holiday Food and Gift Basket Program shared holiday joy with 772 needy families. In 2003 the number was 786. It's not a really large drop and there is no way to know if some previously served families were missed or have moved from the community.
- 417 members of 34 local congregations participated in this year's CROP Walk, raising $45,810.00 in funds for local and world-wide hunger programs.
- The community had the pleasure of welcoming anthems sung by Pro Musica, the Oak Park/River Forest Children's Choir at this year's annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. This year we also enjoyed hearing from an ever expanding representation of faith traditions, helping to both open our hearts and broaden our minds as we reflected on the many meanings of thanks and gratitude.
- A donation of $360 from the Community of Congregations, as well as a free-will offering of $130, taken up at one of our meetings was given to St. Catherine/St. Lucy School after a fire in the building destroyed the personal property of their students. It helped those in need but also served as a visible sign that we are indeed here to support one another.
- We celebrate our growth as an inter-faith organization, welcoming back old members like Grace Episcopal; new member congregations such as Secret Place of God,and Associate Members such as Faith in Place, as well as representation and participation from the Muslim community and from the Vajrayana Buddhist Center.
- Our Community Board members expressed their increased commitment to inter-faith dialogue during a time set apart for just such conversations during each of our meetings. The liveliness of the room and the fact that it is sometimes difficult to call the meeting back to order so that we may complete our agenda, are reason enough for all of us to celebrate.
It is clear to me that we as a Community of Congregations have much to be proud of this year. None of these efforts could be accomplished without your support and that of the congregation that calls you to be here in conversation. I, along with this year's Executive Committee, Gerry Parker, Treasurer, St. Catherine-St. Lucy; Joyce Marco, Secretary, Unity Temple; Rev. Vickie Hadaway, Member-at-Large, Cornerstone United Methodist Church, Rev. Ed Hiestand, Member-at-Large, First United Methodist Church, and Deborah Spector, Member-at-Large, Oak Park Temple, thank each of you for all you have done on behalf of the Community of Congregations this year and look forward to working and serving with you on behalf of all people of faith in the years to come.
Rev. Marnie Rourke
President, Community of Congregations
Member, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
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Updated 1/30/2005 8:20:17 PM