Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The facts of life about St. Paul's finances and budget

At our annual meeting Sunday, I outlined the facts of life about our finances at St. Paul's and the highlights of our proposed budget for 2010. I am giving you that information here as well today.


First, by way of background, I have talked with several pastors in our area, and every congregation in Charlottesville is now feeling the impact of the recession, and we are not immune to the downturn.

Our parish has much abundance and many resources. We have raised $655,000 in financial pledges for 2010, thanks to the generosity of many of you.

That said, we are still $25,000 short from what was pledged in 2009, and that is requiring us to make some hard decisions about our budget for 2010. There are several reasons why our pledges are smaller than 2009, including the deaths of a few long-time members and the fact that we have not received pledge cards from a number of people who pledged in 2009.

If you have not pledged for the year, please do so. If you can increase your pledge, please do so. Our ministries can remain strong only with the contributions of our people. Every pledge is significant, and everyone can pledge something because God has given everyone has something to pledge. As Dudley Rochester, our stewardship chair, pointed out at the annual meeting, less than half of our regular members make a financial pledge. If everyone pledged something, we would have a very good cushion against losing pledges.

The budget for 2010

The budget we are proposing to the Vestry totals $843,608, and it is a balanced budget. It does not tap into reserves funds to balance the budget, as we did in the past few years.

As I mentioned, $655,000 comes from pledges, and the rest from endowment interest and rental income from properties that we own. We also are depending on a grant of $18,500 from the Diocese of Virginia for University ministry.

The budget we are proposing fully funds our $55,000 commitment to outreach ministries and organizations in the community. Last year we tapped a restricted reserve fund (the misnamed "Emergency Fund" which is a restricted fund for outreach) to fulfill that commitment. A hardworking task force examined our outreach grants this year, and I am confident we are putting our money where it will have the most impact. This year we will give grants only with operating funds. Any additional funds raised for outreach, for example for Haiti, will be in on top of that $55,000.

We are also meeting our commitment to the ministry of the Diocese of Virginia with a contribution of $71,000. Also, we are making a financial commitment to forming the future leaders of the Episcopal Church by making a total contribution of $6,500 to the seminaries of our church.

The Diocese of Virginia has one of the lowest (probably the lowest) parish apportionments in the Episcopal Church. By way of comparison, the church where I worked in Sacramento had a similar size budget to this one, and the apportionment was more than $200,000 a year to the diocese.

Our St. Paul's parish programs will remain strong through worship, prayer, education, music, and university ministries. All are funded at the same level as the year before. We are also setting aside $24,000 for building repairs, which is significantly less than the previous year but will allow us to maintain the building in safe working order.

That said, I must be candid with you about the condition of our building. We will need to commence a capital campaign to renovate and update our buildings in a year or two. We cannot wait much longer. Others sacrificed to give these buildings to us, and we got them for free; and to us comes the obligation to give them to future generations in better condition than they are now.

Our proposed budget also has significant cuts, and no pay raises except for our hard-working sexton. We will no longer purchase subscriptions for St. Paul’s members to the diocesan newspaper. We will no longer fund the discretionary funds of the clergy (you are welcome to make individual contributions for those funds).

We are also making difficult and deep cuts in our office operation, and that means we need volunteers to answer phones and greet people during weekday business hours. If you are interested, please talk to me soon.

The proposed budget is balanced, focused on serving people, and will keep our ministries vital and vibrant.

Photos by Bonny Bronson.


Ilana DeBare said...

Our synagogue is wrapping up a much-needed capital campaign to expand our facilities. You're right when you talk about our generation benefitting from the generosity and commitment of prior generations... and it comes a time when we need to do our share so the institutions remain strong for those who come after us.

One interesting thing about church/synagogue capital campaigns is that they often happen only once a generation -- so there is not much institutional memory when it comes to how to run them, about potential mistakes etc. There are some things that we would do differently, now that we have been through our campaign. Sam (who just became our synagogue's treasurer) would be happy to share his thoughts with you when you start to approach your campaign planning stage.

William said...

*(Wisely) suggested deep breath*

The budget is something I really need education about. I've been holding off on my pledge because I still don't understand how outreach ends up with such a small amount of the pie while salaries, building upkeep and grounds, etc. eat up the lion's share. I'm not suggesting for a moment that the clergy shouldn't be paid or the physical structures shouldn't be looked after, but I guess I wasn't prepared to see the percentages the way they are.

It probably has a lot to do with something a counselor once said at a youth meeting when I was teenager. He said in the early days of the church an offering was accepted at each meeting for the poor, and at the entry/exit there was a small coin coffer for the church's expenses. Centuries after, he said, the offering plate was for the church and the coin box for the poor. I know that's really simplistic, but I can't help feeling there's something to that. I want to be generous with my pledge and donation, but I'd rather see it go to people who really need it than to make the place look nice.

I know I'm simplifying things and if I knew more I'd see things differently. I'm hoping someone can help me do that, and I apologize also for missing the annual meeting, which no doubt would have answered many of my questions.

Thank you in advance, and thank you also for your service,

Bill Tetzeli

The Rev. James Richardson said...

Thanks for your comment. Please give me a call, I'd like to answer your questions about the budget. The fact is we are underspending on the building and it is falling apart. And we are short-handed on staff for the size of our congregation and our staff is stressed to the max. Not all of our outreach is outside the door. People come to us in all sorts of conditions, and we take care of them where they are and who they are. That said, our community giving is comparatively large for our size (huge in fact). In addition to the $55,000 we've committed for the community, we've also raised more than $20,000 for Haiti relief. We also give $72,000 to the diocese which gives 2/3rds of that away. We raise for other causes throughout the year, including the ONE campaign.
I would ask that you do pledge and pledge generously. We may not get it perfect, but if people don't pledge, then the place would close or decline and then nothing would go to the community and the people who come to us would find the door closed. As William Temple once said, the church is the one organization that exists for people not its members. We try to live into that every day, but we cannot if people like you don't give. It is really that simple.