June 29, 2022
Dear Grace Commons Family,
Grace and peace to you! I am recovering from my bout with COVID. It’s taken longer than I thought, but day by day I am regaining my strength. Carrie did not test positive, but also exhibited symptoms.
In my previous two letters (here is the second letter), I outlined the questions that the various working groups (i.e. the Personnel Committee, the Finance Committee, Trustees, and Session) were grappling with, and the process in which they’re engaging. In this letter I am able to report on their work and Session’s decision-making on June 21, 2022. I am happy to report that we have a Session-approved budget that is a faithful plan to accomplish the mission God has given our church: To build a flourishing church that makes disciples of Jesus Christ.
Since January, the Personnel Committee has been working on a staff reorganization around the mission and strategic priorities passed by Session last fall, while also prayerfully attempting to navigate a reduction in projected revenue. I am happy to report that we have discerned a way forward. We have reduced spending by $354,000 in Ministry Year 2023 (compared to MY22), aligned staff and budget around our missional priorities, and avoided involuntary layoffs.
The key changes presented to Session include strategies to care for all our generations, the addition of a young adult ministry, redefined job descriptions, outsourcing of our financial services, and an overall decrease in spending that mirrors current giving. Session has approved a budget of $2.821M for MY23. These changes pave the way for missional clarity and organizational health that we pray will foster growth under the next pastor.
The 2004 and 2010 mission study documents (the reviews conducted prior to calling new pastors) each noted that we had significant gaps in caring for young adults. This observation is underscored by the changes in our congregation in the last number of years. To remain a vital church, we are introducing the following staff changes that bring alignment with ministry priorities:
- Rich Bledsoe is dedicated to serving our older generations, who will also receive support from the deacons and ongoing care from Carl Hofmann.
- Our children and family ministry is staffed by Whitney DePalma, Cristina Parcells, Patty Saltarell and Stephanie Arveson. They are receiving pastoral leadership from the Rev. Emily Crider, one of our local mission partners, on a part-time volunteer basis. This will help them establish healthy rhythms and structures to lead the ministry in a sustainable way.
- Kyle Rohan has discerned that his season in our middle school ministry has fulfilled its purpose, and he has communicated that to our middle school families. He is transitioning to a new role as Co-director of Young Adult Ministry. Kyle’s role is complemented by Kelsey Walega, who will transition from our university ministry to join Kyle as co-director. These two positions will focus on building a ministry that cares for and connects with post-college adults.
- Megan Gordon and Matt McDonald will continue to care for our middle and high school ministries, and Dave Pommer’s focus will continue to be on our university ministry. These three ministries have begun investigating partnership models that utilize the skills and resources of parachurch ministries to strengthen our impact with youth and college-age students.
- Lindsay Waymire is the new Director of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation. Our women and men’s ministries will fall under her care. Her strategic focus is on spiritual transformation so that together we can continue to grow as a community that loves one another and our world in Christ-centered ways.
- Ash McDonald is being re-deployed to lead a team of covenant partners focused entirely on outreach.
- Many staff job descriptions have been rewritten to include a focus on equipping each of you so that our body is fully engaged, with all of us using our spiritual gifts and thriving in the work to which God has called us.
- Larry Drees is taking over as the interim business administrator at .75 time upon Cathy Marquis’ retirement. We have been unable to fill the bookkeeping portion of Amy Nelson's position. As such, it has become necessary to outsource the entire financial operation of the church, under the guidance of Larry Drees. While this move has created savings in the MY23 personnel budget, it has added to our operational budget.
Where necessary, our ministries are working on transitional plans that care for you. They love you and value your support and encouragement. Come alongside them, dream with them, and ask them how you can help. We want to do ministry with you, and will need you and your gifts in whatever capacity you are able to bring them.
The staffing alignments are paralleled by adjustments in our budget. As Greg Parr stated during our stewardship season, we trust the guidance God gives through the practicalities of your giving commitments. Session has approved a budget of $2.821M for MY23. (The MY22 budget is $3.31M and estimated MY22 spending is $2.97M.) Here is the breakdown:
Our best guidance on MY23 giving is based on actual pledge commitments plus a forecast for unpledged income using current giving trends. These two income sources are projected to total $2.65M, which is the giving target recommended by our Finance Committee and Trustees.
Despite some staff attrition and a 20% across-the-board reduction in program costs, the total MY23 expense budget is projected to be $2.821M. This leaves a projected shortfall in MY23 of $171K. We believe this shortfall will be met by continuing our ministry of stewardship throughout MY23. If necessary, there are previously given reserves that our Trustees may allocate to fund a shortfall.
As I said in my last letter, MY23 is a transition year. I am proud of our staff, our various committees and Session for all the work done in the last months to position ourselves for growth and health as we prepare to call a new pastor (head of staff). The MY24 budget will continue our work of reducing expenses through planned staff retirements, strategic partnerships in youth and college ministry, and identification of savings in overhead. In all of this work, our goal has been to be wise stewards of the resources God provides through your generous giving. I am grateful for the continued, gracious guidance of our heavenly father.
We have a Congregational Meeting on July 17. We will explain these alignments and changes in more detail and answer any questions. Feel free to email any questions in advance to email@example.com. I covet your ongoing prayers and am immensely grateful for your faithfulness. There is so much more to report that is encouraging, I will be in touch soon.
Warmly in Christ,
Grace Commons Church