In September, the Board held a congregational conversation on the issue of our long-term financial stability. This initial meeting was not intended to provide solutions. What we did was ask some questions. The Board wanted to learn the thoughts of our members to our challenge. Over 75 people attended the conversation and there were 129 out of 264 replies (49%) to the Survey Monkey that was emailed to the congregation. The Board has begun to discern the feelings and ideas from the responses which range from “scary” to “no problem” for our church.
At the September conversation we reported our membership as 239. That is what we certified with the UUA last February. We should have said that our current roll is 244. What gets lost in these numbers is that these are gains after making up for losses in membership most often due to folks moving or passing away. The issue is one of Static versus Dynamic growth. Ours is an upward trending graph that has seen us go from 184 members in 2004 to where we are today. Our first membership class of the year is in process and may bring 10-15 new members. It is important to know that we also have 28 pledging friends that help support this congregation.
Last year we learned as hard as it is to talk about money, the congregation wanted more opportunities to learn about our financial condition. In addition to the monthly Finance Committee meetings that are open to everyone, and the Finance articles in the newsletter, the next discussion with the congregation will be on January 27. That’s when we will have a first ever mid-year budget review. In January we will be a little more than halfway through the year. More will be known about the effect on the UUCV of not having a Congregational Life Coordinator. We will know the results of our Auction and there will be updated information on our membership growth and pledging as of December 31, 2018.
In January we will talk about the open staff position, cost of living adjustments (COLA), the Sunday Plate, pledging options, and volunteering. In early March we have plans for a Stewardship “Celebration Sunday” event. On March 31 there will be a presentation by the budget sub-committee on the proposed budget. Please attend, ask questions, and provide your input to the process. These events will inform the Finance Committee and Budget Sub-Committee on a recommendation to the Board for the 2019-2020 year. All to be completed and approved by the Board in time for your vote at our Annual meeting on June 9!
These discussions are about listening to the membership of the UUCV. They are about gathering information so that when it comes time to make recommendations and finalize decisions we will have the best sense of how to move forward in “right sizing” our congregation. We have been staffing a position from special funding for 6 years to support growth in size and in spirit. Transitioning to something less, or growing into something more, is the challenge for a church that seeks to share our love, joy and optimism about the future with as many people as we can.
Living in Paradise,
Bryan Buck, UUCV Board President