2021 was a year of rebuilding on the other side of the pandemic.
God has been good and we're more expectant for what's to come.
In 2020-2021, San Francisco saw an exodus of people leaving the City. As a church predominately made up of singles that work in tech or in a startup, this hit our church hard. By the time we would reopen our in-person gatherings, 55% had moved.
Due to a struggling economy and the San Francisco exodus, we saw a 27% decrease in our annual giving from 2019-2020. As a result, we had to make difficult decisions such as reducing our staff and ending our Canvas HQ lease in order to weather the economic storm.
From March 14th, 2020, to May 9th, 2021, Canvas held all gatherings digitally. That is 60 services, over 600 hours of video editing, and 0 physical hugs, handshakes, and smiles over the course of 14 months of being shutdown due to the pandemic. It. Was. Brutal.
As a result of the pandemic, our ability to continue to gather at Marina Middle School was no longer a possibility. Because of this, hundreds of hours was spent both praying and strategically searching for a new home for Canvas.
We had planned to launch our new Rooted Groups prior to the pandemic. As a result, we had a round of digital Rooted Small groups. While this met a need for a season, it lacked the essentials needed for meaningful community to form. So we paused the launch of Rooted Groups until they could safely gather again in person.
Almost overnight it felt like our large team of volunteers pre-Pandemic was taken all the way down to the foundation. Because Canvas is built on the strengths of many, not a few, we knew that rebuilding our serving teams would be a top priority as we worked towards a full reopening.
On Sunday, May 16th, we launched our first Sunday in-person gathering at the beautiful Fort Mason campus. While navigating the ups-and-downs of the pandemic remains, it has been encouraging to meet new people every week and see more people plugging into the community, serving, and growing in their faith.
Due to the length of the pandemic, our serving teams took a big hit. As a result, we have really focused on re-creating a strong serving culture by launching the Dream Team and monthly Team Nights. Since doing this we have added new volunteers consistently and are quickly getting all programs back to being fully operational.
We are grateful to say that we not only survived the pandemic, but God has continued to provide again-and-again through the generosity of the Canvas family. Not only are we on pace to pass last years annual giving, but we have seen 34 first-time givers and 11 new recurring givers invest in what God is doing at Canvas in 2021.
After searching over 50+ possible venues over the past year, we are grateful to have a great home for Canvas at Fort Mason as the exclusive tenant of Southside Theater. This will be our home through the end of 2022 and eliminates majority of our previous setup and teardown. This allows us to have a stable home as we continue to prayerfully and strategically seek a fully permanent home for Canvas.
After 14 months of no in-person community, we knew launching Rooted Groups would need to be a top priority. We are so thrilled to have launched new Rooted Groups for those looking to grow deeper in their faith with others.
We have also launched a new space for community called Canvas Socials. We have seen an incredible level of engagement in Canvas Socials and it has proved to be a great place for people looking to build friendships at Canvas.
Our Canvas Kids Team took the largest hit over the course of the pandemic, going from over 40 teammates to only 3 remaining volunteers. As a result, Pastor Jena stepped in as the Canvas Kids Director and has rebuilt a strong and growing team. As a result, we have been able to relaunch our toddler through pre-school experiences and will soon be reopening Canvas Kids experiences for newborn and elementary aged children at Canvas.
In 2022 we will continue to pray and listen to where the Spirit leads us regarding a future permanent home for Canvas. We believe that it is time for Canvas to go from a church plant to a church rooted in San Francisco and we will work like it depends on us and pray like it depends on God to reach that goal.
We are aiming to launch 12 new Rooted Groups in 2022. Rooted Groups are where you go to grow in your faith with others and we will be directing much of our energy towards creating more space for people to grow in their faith in community.
Prior to our time at Marina Middle School, Canvas held two Sunday morning services. This allowed more room for growth and for serving teams to attend a service even on weeks that they serve. We will be working towards launching a second Sunday service as soon as we have the volunteer capacity to do so.
We are called to flourish San Francisco. So in 2022, we want to create more opportunity for Canvas to show up in San Francisco in tangible and meaningful ways as we seek to bring the Kingdom of God to San Francisco as it is in Heaven.
Since day 1, we have been committed to being a ridiculously generous church. Prior to the pandemic we had given away over $100k annually for two years straight. We want to make 2022 the year that we give more than ever before by giving $125k to local and global justice work.
With the launch of another Canvas being put on hold, furloughs, and career changes, 2020 brought a lot of transition to the Canvas Staff. While we are committed to staying lean and scrappy as a staff, we are in need of a full-time Worship Pastor to build a strong worship experience for both of our in-person and online gatherings. Our prayer is that we will have the financial margin to make this hire in 2022.