First Universalist Church
In the Universalist spirit of love and hope, we give, receive, and grow

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Please join us for open conversations with Rev. Justin Schroeder and Board members on 
Wednesday, May 7th at 7pm in the Cummins Room or on Sunday, May 18th following the second service.

Significant changes currently proposed for the 2014-15
church year:

~Eliminate free childcare for non-Sunday morning church events 


~Change our offering plate split from 70% to community and 30% to the church to a 60/40 split 


~Reduce our part-time Minister of Worship Arts from a year-round to a 10 month employee


~Re-envision Faith in Action staffing, planning not to hire a Director of Faith in Action (current plan includes reallocating staff Faith in Action leadership to Rev. Jen)


~Restructure Staffing for Religious Education 


~Eliminate funding for leadership development for the staff and Board of Trustees 


~Assorted program expense reductions  


Items to include in the budget if income increases:


~Restore Free Childcare for church events 


~Increase building loan to implement critical areas of the Capital Improvement Plan (railing on balcony, fix plumbing, repair roof)


~Enhance proposed RE Staffing


~Restore our Minister of Worship Arts to year round


~Increase Funding for our Racial Justice Journey


~Administrative/Project Management Support for Faith in Action


~Leadership Development


~Restore cuts from previous year, including Senior Minister Salary and Professional Expenses


~Custodial Hours


~Professional Expenses for staff


~Compensate staff in accordance with our Board's compensation policy


~Increase Unitarian Universalist Association and MidAmerica Region Dues

A Critical Message From Rev. Justin Schroeder
Dear Church,


We are on the edge of making significant cuts in our proposed church budget for the 2014-2015 church year, including eliminating free childcare for non-Sunday church events, reducing the hours of our Minister of Worship Arts, restructuring and cutting staff hours in our Religious Education Program, and more. 


This letter is to inform you about the potential changes, to update you on how we arrived here, and to let you know that collectively, we can decide how this particular story unfolds. 


Almost exactly five years, on May 3, 2009, I was called by First Universalist Church, by a congregational vote, to serve as your Senior Minister. In that ceremony, we promised to walk together in the Universalist Spirit of love and hope. I was deeply drawn to this congregation because of its Universalist heritage, its bold vision and its desire to grow and change.


The first five years of my ministry have been a time of growth and rapid change. Four years ago, the Emily Grey Charter School bought out of their lease, meaning even though the church lost $185,000 in annual revenue, we gained precious class room space to grow our Religious Education Program. The Board and Congregation took this risk because we were growing, financial giving was increasing, and we believed that owning our own space was a critical step in having our children and youth ministry program flourish. 


At the same time, we added facilities staff to care for our building, administrative staff to meet the increased administrative demands, and program staff to help serve a growing congregation. During this time, some programs ended, such as Unity Center for Youth Leadership, and new initiatives and programs, such as the Day of Service, our Racial Justice Journey, and the Wellspring Program began. During this time, we began to focus on offering a deep, wide, variety of Circle experiences. We restructured our Program Team, bringing on a Minister of Program Life, and we created a Worship Arts staff position that ensures, through Worship Associates, intergenerational services, and youth focused worship, that Sunday morning sings. With additional fundraising efforts such as Miracle Sundays, matching pledge gifts, and more, we managed to balance the budget almost every year. (During this time, the Board and Congregation approved deficit spending of over $100,000 and we've been significantly under that.)


In the 2013-2014 budget, we anticipated $1,147,503 in pledges, with a Board approved $18,000 deficit, but as we near the end of the current fiscal year, it's clear we were overly optimistic, as only $1,087,529 has been received in pledges. The bottom line is that revenue has not increased to match the size of the dreams we aspire to fulfill. In 2014-15, we are committed to a realistic pledge estimate and a balanced budget. These facts, in addition to a few other adjustments, have resulted in us needing to close a large gap between our expected income and our expenses for the 2014-2015 budget. If we are unable to grow our giving to match our dreams, we will need to explore bringing a tenant back into our space. 


At this point in time, in order to create a balanced budget, we need to make some significant changes. These proposed changes are difficult to consider, especially given the momentum and vibrancy of First Universalist, but we believe that they allow us to continue to protect the priorities and fulfill the mission of the churchSome of these changes may offer opportunities - opportunities like increased ministerial leadership of our Faith in Action efforts, and deeper partnership between staff and the congregation, to name a few. Some of these changes would be disappointing and difficult. 


And that's where you, the congregants of First Universalist, come into this story. 


We are sharing this information with you so that we all know where we stand and what is at stake. We're not at the end of the story yet. Our budget for the 2014-15 church year is not yet set. We hope that over the next few weeks, we can increase our projected income for 2014-15, and as our projected income increases, we can restore some of the items we're proposing to cut.


If you have already made your pledge for the 2014-2015 church year, thank you! 


If you haven't yet pledged, please do so here.  If you need to learn more about pledging, please do so here. And whether you have pledged already or are still thinking about your pledge, I invite you to reconsider the amount that you planned on giving, and consider giving 10% more. To do this, or increase a pledge you've already made, please click here. If even half of the congregation did this, we'd be able to take huge steps forward toward being the church we want to be in the world. 


If you have questions or concerns about the budget, the church, or your pledge - we want to talk with you. A more detailed version of the proposed budget will be available as part of the May Board Packet, and the proposed Program Budget is available online here. Please join us for open conversations with Rev. Justin Schroeder and Board members on Wednesday, May 7th at 7pm in the Cummins Room or on Sunday, May 18th following the second service - or reach out anytime to Rev. Justin ( or Board President, David Bach ( 


In faith,

Rev. Justin Schroeder


First Universalist Church | 612-825-1701 
3400 Dupont Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

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