E-Newsletter for Sunday, October 27, 2019

Fall Bible School, Decorating Dia de los Muertos Altar, 2020 Budget Update and more in the E-Newsletter for October 27, 2019 – Available in full online here.

From the Vestry
Jill Wegner, Sr. Warden

Dear *|FNAME|*,

This past Monday night, we met to approve the 2020 budget and were faced with making some difficult decisions.

As of our meeting, we had received pledges totaling $291,574 to the General Fund—the fund that pays for the regular day-to-day ministries of our church. There are a small handful of households who have not yet turned in their pledges, but who we anticipate will still do so before the year's end. Our pledge projection then totals $311,684 to the General Fund next year. 

The difficult reality is that, with inflation and other costs which change from year-to-year, we actually need $332,000 in pledges to fund our current ministries in the year to come. And, as I shared with you a few weeks ago—that budget does not have any fluff to cut out.  This means we face the difficult decision of taking expenses out to balance the budget.

We found ways to cut a little less than $5,000 from the budget through greater frugality in various ministry areas and thinking we may be able to project some lower expenses… but that still left nearly $15,000 from current ministry that would need to be cut to enable us to have a balanced budget for 2020. 

Here are those cuts:
  1. Elimination of the entire Landscaping Budget, only leaving in the amount that we receive from the Landscaping Endowment—ending all professional care of the church grounds and limiting the amount to lawn mowing. ($4,714)
  2. Elimination of all Continuing Education for staff. This will result in the rector withdrawing from the summer program at Notre Dame that Father Jared had been accepted into and was to begin in 2020, for an Executive Masters in Nonprofit Administration. It also eliminates continuing education for Nick Palmer, Director of Music, and soon-to-be hired Luis Valencia, our Latinx Missioner ($3,200)
  3. Elimination of budget for future rector’s sabbatical, including setting aside parish funds for supply clergy costs that will occur when the sabbatical takes place ($1,200)
  4. Elimination of Staff Section Leaders—we already had reduced two positions to one. This eliminates the remaining Section Leader ($3,840)
  5. Elimination of budget for Convention Delegates which would have all delegates responsible personally for any costs of attending Convention, possibly restricting the ability of some to run for this position  ($1,250)
  6. Elimination of the creation of a budget for Stephen’s Ministry pastoral care work, an essential young and growing ministry in our church ($300)
While it was painful to approve these cuts, I remain hopeful that these cuts do not have to go into effect in 2020. After all, with deep thanks to the hard work of the Stewardship Commission, this was in so many ways a very successful pledge drive.
  • The average pledge increased 4%, to $55 per week (or $2,875 per year).
  • Over a third of all households were able to increase their pledge and only 17% found it necessary to decrease. 
  • We had seven brand new pledges to our ministry.
  • We saw an increase in how many people will be using E-Giving, to have their pledge automatically drafted from their checking account, thus bringing even greater financial stability to our ministry. 
The sad and painful reality is that the loss of so many parishioners this year, has had an impact upon our congregation in more than just the grief of losing those we loved. Many of those parishioners had been remarkably faithful in their support—it is now up to us to decide if we can try to fill the gaps they have left in our community so that SJE can continue strongly into 2020. 

I want you to know that after the Vestry meeting, I sat down with my husband and we reconsidered our pledge to St. John's, asking if we were giving what we believed God called us to give. Inspired by the generosity of so many, we gave an updated pledge to the office earlier this week. 

I hope you'll join my family in thinking about your own commitment to St. John's. The list of cuts above is prioritized in the order the Vestry hopes to be able to reverse them. So, for example, if our projected total increases just $4,714, we would restore the professional care of our parish campus and landscaping (the first item in our priorities for restoration). If the projected total increased $20K (just 6.7% more than we have now), we could restore all of those above-listed ministries we have cut and also budget for some wiggle room for unexpected needs in the year to come. 

We can do this with your help. 

If you haven't yet pledged, please do so now. Though the average is currently $55 per week ($2,875 per year), a pledge of any amount is helpful. 

If you already pledged, but think God might be calling you to do more, to join with my family and the others who have increased their support to the important ministries of our church, you can click here to change your pledge. 

We are blessed to be a part of an historic church in Grand Haven, the oldest continually used house of worship, one with an inspiring and timeless approach to worship, a commitment to children from all types of families. We are a church that has consistently been a leader in standing up for the oppressed.

Please help us continue that mission into the next year.

Yours in Christ,

Jill Wegner, Sr. Warden

PS~ If you are one of the several people who is new to St. John's and maybe doesn't know about what a pledge campaign is and how it affects you, please click here for an introduction into pledging and other giving practices at SJE. 

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