Community Conversation – March 19, 2023

Over seventy people gathered for a Community Conversation at Far Hills on Sunday, March 19, to discuss progress on the associate pastor call process, strategic planning, 2023 giving commitments, and the proposed development of a Sheetz gas station, convenience store, and restaurant next door. The meeting was hosted by Council President Anthony Brown and Pastor Julie. The updates were followed by a Q and A with discussion on membership numbers, the increasing number of part time staff members, the hope for a return of the Saturday evening service, and a request for one-to-one meetings with council leadership, among other items. We welcome your feedback!

Stewardship Update

Our stewardship committee led a fall campaign entitled, “We Belong,” focusing on Epiphany as a community where we connect to one another, to God, and the world around us. The projects identified for additional funding in the fall appeal were: 

  • Increased faith formation opportunities across all ages 
  • Funds for hiring a full-time associate pastor + cost of living increase for staff 
  • Security projects  
  • Goal of additional $108,000 annually 


Results so far: Pledges to 2023 Operation Budget Total Pledged 

  • 192 $ 861,539 
  • 90 increased pledges (+$64,357) $ 534,031  This is average $715 annual increase per pledge 
  • 50 same pledge $ 183,645 
  • 19 decreased (-$33,402) $ 70,148 -$1,758 average per pledge 
  • 33 new pledges $ 73,715 


This is an increase of $104,670 – very close to our goal! However, other income has not held steady. As of March 16, 64 households pledged last year had not pledged this year. 

  • This group pledged $183,291.  Of these 64 households: 
      • 16 households continue to give on a recurring basis, such as weekly or monthly online giving or by cash or check on a consistent basis. This total giving equals about $1,000 per week, $52,000 annually.  Brings us to 208 Intentions for Giving 
      • 14 households have had some type of major life event, such as death, have moved out of the area. 
      • 34 households have not pledged, nor do they have recurring giving patterns.
          • However, those in that list HAVE made contributions with an aggregate total of about $1,800 to date this year.  
          • This is the group we will follow up with. 

Total Commitments for 2023

$913,539 v $1.3 million which included our stewardship goals

We have not yet factored in givers who have never pledged or given automatically. We are sending an additional invitation to this group to consider making a commitment, as in 2022 their giving represented $231,557.  The finance team will also need to make some income projections to complete the revenue side of the budget.  As we get a better handle on our income, we would like to plan another conversation about the budget and decisions our congregation will be making for the 2023-24 annual budget, which begins July 1.  

Sheetz Update 

Leadership unanimously opposed due to safety and environmental concerns stemming from the increase and proposed flow of traffic. 

  • 3000+ cars per day. 
  • Fireside and Espanola will be over capacity and overflow to cut through Epiphany’s parking lot.   
  • Exit from Sheetz has a right turn that directly empties into Epiphany’s parking lot. 
  • This area welcomes foot traffic of preschool families, members, and community groups every day, posing a significant safety hazard.  Children of our preschool use the park lot for fire drills and to walk to the outdoor chapel. 
  • Sheetz has over $1 million in environmental fines from the EPA.   
  • Proposed sale of alcohol, tobacco, and CBD products within 500 of church and school violates state law. 
  • Worrying crime stats at similar 24-hour gas station convenience stores in our area, recent reports of shootings at Sheetz including a fatal shooting in Columbus on March 3. 


Where we are today: 

  • Sheetz submitted a site plan in Dec 2022; issues were identified, including lighting, road improvements and landscaping.   
  • No application with site plan has yet been submitted to the Planning Commission. 
  • Epiphany is circulating a petition opposing the development. 
  • The next opportunity is April 25.  IF Sheetz submits an application, Epiphany will be there with petition in hand to oppose. 
  • If the application moves forward, we can oppose it at the Council level, which looks at whether the development is consistent with the use of the area.  
To see the slideshow that was presented on March 19, click here: Community conversation 03-19-23 pdf
Petitions against the development of Sheetz at Far Hills are available at both campuses. 
For those unable to sign a paper petition, a digital petition is available here.