The fourth goal of our Live Forward strategic plan that was approved by the congregation in 2017 was to “Cultivate our human, financial and physical resources to grow and sustain a vibrant church.” The first strategy our Strategic Planning Council (led by Carol Reid) created to meet that goal was to “Re-establish our church identity and brand through powerful and timely storytelling, marketing, graphic design, architecture, and technology.” 

In 2018, we established the lay-led Identity Task Force chaired by Chaz Seal to implement this strategy. They engaged the services of Laurie Donato and Ruben Lopez to create a new marketing campaign for our church. The result was our eye-popping, multi-award winning, ‘Open to All’ campaign that was unanimously and enthusiastically approved by our Board of Deacons in 2019. This campaign included the development of our new logo, the colorful banners with memorable slogans we see around our campus, as well as the pencils in the pews. You may remember the powerful video we created when we launched this campaign in January 2020. Some of the images from that video are now being used on our new website. 

Two months into 2020, a global pandemic arrived and interrupted our campaign. Yet, in spite of the obstacles, we started a conversation in our city and around the country that drew attention to our church and led many new people to visit and join us for the first time. Of all the elements in the marketing campaign, the one that has had the biggest impact are the banners on the front of our sanctuary. When we ask our guests and new members how they found out about us and why they decided to visit for the first time, the most popular answer is “the banners on the sanctuary.” Many new people tell us they drove by the church, saw the banners, and became curious about what was going on inside our church. Rev. Carrie Veal identified a significant number of new families who have joined our church that visited us for the first time because they saw the banners. 

We know the banners have been a source of concern for some members who feel they take away from the beauty of our sanctuary or worry that their presence might be discoloring the brick. Some have asked if the banners could be free standing instead of on the building, however the last time we put up tall free-standing signs they were removed by the city, and we were fined. While we understand the banners are not everyone’s ‘cup of tea,’ we also know they are working to overcome the word ‘Baptist’ in our name, as well as the traditional look of our sanctuary. They also attract new guests to our church, which is extremely important at this time when there is such precipitous decline in church attendance nationally and great suspicion about organized religion. The banners are a testament to the success of our Live Forward strategic plan, the wisdom of our Strategic Planning Council, the hard work of our lay led Identity Task Force, and a bold sign of welcome and hospitality to our community. 

During a recent storm, one of our banners was torn loose. The good news is that we quickly learned there has been no discoloration of the brick. However, it has also become clear to the Ministry of Facilities and the Ministry of Communications and Technology that these banners, which have served us well, are in need of replacement. Thankfully, our 80th anniversary offers us the perfect opportunity to replace the current banners with something new that celebrates the history of our church and will continue to catch people’s eye as they drive by, spark their curiosity, and invite them to come inside for a visit. We look forward to unveiling these new banners next week on Founder’s Sunday. 

We hope these new banners will help us celebrate the 80 years of inclusivity, community, spirituality, and justice. And when you tell your friends about our church and how much you love this community of faith, be sure to say, “We’re the inclusive church with the colorful banners next to Queens University. Come check us out! We’d love to see you.” 

Note: Below are the tactics from our Strategic Plan that specifically relate to the banners. 

GOAL 2 STRATEGY 4 TACTIC 1: Develop and implement a plan for campus signage that is hospitable and welcoming for guest wayfinding, and that helps tell the story of our church in a more vibrant and colorful way, that also highlights the Church's welcoming and inclusive history. Plan developed by fall 2018 and implementation to begin 2019. (MCT, MFM, & Staff) 

GOAL 4 STRATEGY 1 TACTIC 1: Engage an outside firm to lead a branding and design process by that will refine and retell the MPBC story and deliver a new branding plan for the church by January 2019. (MCT, Comm. SLG & Staff) 

GOAL 4 STRATEGY 1 TACTIC 2: Renovate all entryways by brightening, illuminating, and modernizing spaces to be more hospitable to guests that include word, art, pictures, and branding that immediately communicate the story of who we are, and that may become interactive virtual spaces. Develop a plan and a funding source by Fall of 2018 with a goal of implementation by end of 2019. (MFM, MCT, & Staff) 

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