A Financial Update for SsJA
This fall the Finance Team and Vestry have been prayerfully and thoughtfully discerning how to budget for 2021. We have been greatly supported in that work by our new Stewardship Team. We want to take a moment to share the things we have been paying attention to in anticipation of our Virtual Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 24 at 11 a.m. Please note that even more details about the meeting will be forthcoming in early January.
First, know we are on sound financial footing. There are several factors which have helped keep us on such solid ground:
We also discussed our thoughts on withdrawing funds from the endowment to supplement the budget for 2021, if necessary. There was a general awareness that withdrawals from endowed funds should always be done with a great deal of caution, care, thoughtfulness, and prayer. It is preferable to leave the funds be so they can continue to grow. However, we also agreed that should the unique circumstances of the global pandemic require us to consider making a one time draw on the endowment to supplement our 2021 budget, that we were open to that possibility.
The Finance Team accepted the challenge, and over the course of several meetings (as per our usual course) built a budget as best as we were able.
Third, we adopted a deficit budget at our December Vestry meeting which will be presented at our Virtual Annual Meeting. The budget is realistic about the costs of maintaining our campus and staffing levels, and it also greatly expanded our budget for Mission. At our December Mission and Vestry meetings we also adopted Sunday Sandwiches as an ongoing ministry for the foreseeable future. Each meal costs $2.65 per person, and we anticipate it will cost us $12,500 in 2021, though it seems to grow every single week-- now serving over 100 people each Sunday.
The budget anticipates a $39,000 deficit. And yes, it is a sobering amount. In ordinary times, we simply would not have adopted a budget with that kind of deficit, and instead would have resorted to making significant budgetary cuts. However, the sense of the Finance Team and Vestry, is that this is a once-every-hundred-years-global-pandemic kind of budget. Income that we ordinarily generate from plate offerings ($11,900 in a normative year; $4,700 anticipated in 2021) and property use ($45,000 in a normative year; $27,500 anticipated in 2021), coupled with expanded efforts in mission, ongoing care of property, and maintaining staffing levels is what has created this deficit. These are all factors we anticipate starting to course correct in the second half of 2021.
Fourth, we have plans for how to address the deficit. As mentioned, the Finance Team is working double-time, and we have plans to re-assess the budget in June. The diocese is currently building a program of zero-interest loans that they will be launching in the new year, and there are two diocesan grants for mission and technology that we plan to apply for. We have high hopes that we can heavily shrink this deficit.
We also had the very real conversation about whether to supplement our operating budget with a special draw from the endowment. Our endowment is approximately $647,000. The Vestry voted that in 2021, the church can draw up to $39,000, if necessary. We would not draw the total amount approved, rather we anticipate only resorting to a draw, should cash flow become an issue down the line, and limiting the draws to what is necessary at that time. Please note, at this point that is not an issue as we are still operating with a surplus.
In a perfect world, we would not be writing to you about church finances in the days leading to Christmas. Yet this has been a strange and difficult year, and we want to be transparent with you. This is a lot of information to take in, and know there will be opportunities to discuss and that we are always happy to answer your questions and listen to your concerns.
Most importantly, thank you for your faithfulness and generosity. This parish’s capacity for change, your agility, and your overwhelming love of God and neighbor is a diamond in the rough. You amaze us every day.
Happy Advent, and very soon, Merry Christmas.
Rev. Heather & Rev. Molly
Do you have questions about the church’s 2021 budget? You are invited to join members of Finance for a Zoom meeting to answer any questions you may have. This meeting is part of our preparation for our annual meeting, where each year we present the budget that has been adopted by the Vestry. Join us on Thursday, January 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial by your location +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 843 6802 1870
Virtual Annual Meeting
Save the Date! On Sunday, January 24 at 11 a.m. we have a virtual annual meeting using Zoom, which will be broadcast from 73 Federal Street, Greenfield, MA. You can use the coffee hour link on our website to access the meeting. Stay tuned for more details in early January.