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Looking Ahead

Can you believe that January is already half over? We are well into the new year, and our congregation is looking ahead to a year full of worshiping, learning and serving together. As we move forward, I wanted to make sure all of us were informed about where we stand financially as a congregation: how we ended 2013, what the budget looks like for 2014 and how our capital campaign is going. It’s important for all of us to be on the same page as we move ahead together.
I know, I know. Talking about “the family budget” does not always make for exciting dinner conversation or newsletter articles. But, in this case we have good news to share and celebrate together! And money is not just a topic for the Finance Committee or a small group of people in the church. It’s for all of us. We are a household of faith, and, as I’ve said before, we all need to have as much information as we can about how our congregation is doing financially. (Besides, Paul’s going to write this article next week and tell you all about how much fun the youth had on the winter retreat. So you have that to look forward to!)
As you may know, we found ourselves in December with about a $50,000 deficit in our revenue. Although that caused a little stress for those who are stewards of our finances, we were able to celebrate at the end of the year that we had met our budget. Due to a little less spending than we planned and a lot of generosity of giving, we came within a few hundred dollars of our 2013 budget! We were able in 2013 to expand our ministries, sustain our staff and pay our apportionment to the United Methodist Church in full. I would call that a financially successful year!
Looking ahead to 2014, the Finance Committee and the Administrative Council approved a budget that is slightly lower than 2013. By the end of the year we had received $889,962 in pledges, so we felt it best to keep a conservative budget. The budget does include modest raises for the staff and our full apportionment. And a generous designated gift outside the budget has allowed us to continue our handbell and children’s choir ministries under the leadership of Amanda Craft. Amanda will be coming on as Associate Minister of Music through this wonderful gift. So ministries will continue to grow and thrive as we move forward into this new year.
Our 2020 Vision campaign to reduce the debt shows the generosity of this congregation beyond our annual budget. We had hoped to raise $500,000 toward the goal of being debt-free by 2020, and to date we have received $358,254 in pledges. (If you haven’t made a pledge but would like to, it’s never too late!) We feel confident that we will reach the $400,000 mark soon, which is good news indeed.
I am so grateful for our Finance Committee and their faithful work. We have changed the structure of that committee so that members serve for three years in tead of the old “serve ‘til you drop” model. Chip Higgins will continue one more year as our fearless leader, and I am so grateful for the faith, hope and love he brings to that work. And if you see Bryan Richardson, please say “thank you” for the many years he dedicated to this team. He has been a rock and has been a steward of the financial work of this congregation through good times and hard times.
And, finally, I am grateful for all of you and your generosity. May God continue to shape us as a congregation to be more generous, more loving, more faithful and more compassionate with each day.