Sunday, January 26, 2014

Parish Budget Blues

This Sunday was the day for our annual parish meeting. Each year new vestry members are elected, committee reports are presented, the total number of bums in the pews is summarized, funerals, baptisms, and weddings are tallied, last year's budget is laid to rest, and the new budget is presented.

Today we were also presented with a "Strategic Plan" which said a lot of good things but said nothing about spreading the Gospel of Christ to an increasingly hostile world. Any plan that fails to bring in the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) is destined to fail.

Last year's news was not good as attendance dropped 17.8% from 8,482 in 2012 to 6,970 in 2013. Baptized members dropped 22% from 454 to 353. Baptisms fell from 6 to 2. There were zero confirmations, zero reaffirmations, zero weddings, and 12 funerals in 2013. 2 people transferred in and 14 transferred out and 55 were moved to inactive status.

Despite this terrible news, the church was only $8,995 in the red for 2013 (out of a total budget of $442,910). I am not sure why people applauded when these numbers were presented. I guess it wasn't as bad as everyone thought it would be.

The budget for 2014 projects a $53,710 shortfall.

In 2009 this church made "draconian cuts" when faced with a  $621,137 budget and a similar projected shortfall.

This year, the people are asked to give more money.

Yet there is room for cuts to be made.

In the past, this parish has withheld its pledge to the diocese when we needed belt tightening.

The Bishop's current take is $40,000/yr.

That $40,000 gets you less than absolutely nothing. It gets you a "Task Force on Unity" which will only accelerate the decline in baptisms, confirmations, and marriages by allowing the blessing of same sex couplings to take place in the church. That money also helps feed 815 and its lawsuits against your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Back in 2009 I wrote the following about that remarkably prophetic annual parish meeting,
A recommendation from the floor was approved by a narrow margin for the vestry to send any end of the year surplus in 2009 to the diocese to make up for the "shortfall." I am aware that one person objected because they were afraid that the next Bishop of the EDUSC might try to lead the diocese towards SSBs and a new BCP. 

That next bishop turned out to be Bishop Waldo who is leading the diocese down that very path.

The Sunday Budget Blues are not unique to this time or place, so I am sticking with what I wrote in 2009,
"If you preach the Word of God, it will come." 
The corollary is also true,
"If you preach any other gospel, you will be left singing the Parish Budget Blues.
And how much does it cost to preach the Gospel of Christ?
"If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe betide me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel..." (1 Corinthians 9)


  1. Pewster,
    Why would the 2014 budget project a $54,000 shortfall?
    Wouldn't you be shooting for a balanced budget?

    1. The pendulum has swung back to deficit spending which we had done away with for several years. Years ago our former rector had the vestry factor in a line item called "by Faith" on the income side of the budget to balance things. If I were an incoming vestry member this year, I would not be very happy with the outgoing vestry members and the potential problem they have created. Of course, if they follow my advice, things will work out just fine. ;-)

  2. Anonymous9:11 AM

    He who is without sin should cast the first stone... Underground Pewster you just cast an entire truck load. May I suggest you put you name on the 2014 "Transfered out list"?

    1. I make one simple suggestion ("If you preach the Word of God, it will come."), and this is the thanks I get!

    2. More revisionist liberal love and Episcopal inclusivity and radical hospitality from Anonymous, who bravely stands up for his invitation to leave by name. No doubt you would love to have a diverse congregation of people exactly like yourself, marching in progressive lockstep off the Gadarene cliff. Look up that reference, if it is unfamiliar.

  3. Pewster,
    May I remind the anonymous poster that like God, TEC should not put "diversity" in a box. This means being willing to listen to everyone's story including those we disagree with.

  4. Anonymous1:53 PM

    Attendance figures are for EDUSC, right?

    1. These are parish stats for our church which is in EDUSC. The 2013 stats for the diocese are not yet available.