Report on Fall Meeting

Thank you to everyone who attended our fall meeting after church on October 28. Many lay leaders worked closely with staff to prepare this presentation. I also wish to thank everyone for some wonderful questions. Here are a few of the salient points made at the meeting:

First, we began with an affirmation of the hard work done by staff and laity in 2011 and 2012. First Church benefited from the strong leadership of The Reverend Dr. Jonathan New who served as our Interim Senior Minister. Staff and laity made a lot of sacrifices and adjustments during this time as we grieved the loss of Bob Lee and dealt with many uncertainties and transitions. We also saw many lay people assume new responsibilities. The church also squarely faced up to its financial challenges. The Open and Affirming Process was completed. The church also benefited from the excellent leadership of the search committee.

Second, we have built a strong staff team. In my view, the most significant factor in a church’s success is having a strong staff team in place. In my view, the most significant factor in a church’s success is having a strong staff team in place that enjoys each other, works hard and is committed to empowering others to do ministry. In the last month, we have hired a new office manager, building manager, and receptionist. With a strong administrative team in place, I believe we can make better use of the gifts of our strong program staff and clergy. I tremendously enjoy working with each and every one of our staff. I am also so grateful to all of the wonderful lay people who are eager to blend their gifts with staff to do great ministry. We share a strong covenant with one another.

Third, after a period of uncertainty when so many changes took place, it looks like we are in reasonably good fiscal shape. We also saw a slight reduction in pledges from the prior year. In 2012 to 2013, we received 197 pledges of $364,000 compared to 209 pledges of $368,000 in 2011 and 2012. The slight reduction in giving was offset by a reduction in our expenses. Over the next six months, we have to close a budget gap of $9,600. The gap allows for the fact that we plan to keep Adrianne Carr as our Associate Minister at full time. It is important to our ministry that we keep Adrianne Carr in full time status. We strongly believe there are better ways to close this financial gap than compromising our ministry by reducing compensation and time allocations of our ministerial staff.

Fourth, as we seek to close the $9,600 deficit, we need to work together. It’s all hands on deck! We will continue to focus on prudent expense reduction without compromising the quality of our program and ministry. Some increase in rental income and the use of volunteers to handle some functions that were previously handled by staff will also help. This gap, however, cannot be closed on the basis of these initiatives alone. We always encourage people to make new pledges if they have not already done so. Some may wish to consider giving a little more to reduce their tax liability. Pledging from new members joining the church will also be of benefit. A fundraiser or two is also a possibility. Creatively working together and drawing on many sources, I know we can finish up this fiscal year in good shape.

Finally, looking ahead to the 2013 to 2014 year, it is my hope that we will be able to fully support our existing staff team and not need to make cuts. We don’t want to lose our momentum. It is also very important that we not draw on our investment portfolio above 4.5 % of our assets. In addition, we need to more realistic about what the Possibility Shop can contribute. To get us on a stronger financial footing in the long term, we need to see some improvement in our giving and other revenue sources while adding to our membership. The coming stewardship campaign will include an every member canvass. Throughout the campaign, we may actively consider increasing our pledges by a percentage of our income or consider taking some fraction of what we gave to the building campaign and adding it to our operating pledge. The every member canvass also increases the likelihood of securing pledges from new people. We also must remember that the ministry we do in our building is as important as the building itself and deserves our support.

A full outline of the presentation is available in the literature rack. You may also call the church office and we will send you a copy.

I feel so blessed to be serving as your Senior Minister and thank everyone for their generosity in a multitude of ways. In Christ, we can do great things together.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Peter

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