Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been thinking again about “Stewardship” and specifically our financial contributions to and responsibilities towards the life and ministry of St. Francis-in-the-Wood. Two weeks ago I wrote a bit about my own motivation for giving to the church and how it is a part of my own spiritual practice (as well as being very practical of course), and last week I shared some of our Envelope Secretary’s analysis of the giving patterns at St. Francis, and the invitation to review where we stand in relation to this, especially in the light of current financial challenges which I said I’d write a bit about this week having had a financial update at Parish Council on Tuesday.
So where are we at? As of the end of September, our deficit was about $15,000 higher than budgeted although we have since Tuesday received an anticipated grant of nearly $12,000 which helps to offset this, but even taking this into account the overall deficit to date stands at about $35,000. We do have money to cover this in the Vision for Growth Fund (a fund set up at the beginning of 2013 to help us bridge funding gaps as we invest in growth), but it does mean we have a challenge for 2019 if most of these funds are used up. Hence the urgent need to review our giving and, where we can, to see if we can stretch just a little bit further in our generosity. It is a challenge, but I do believe that when we are stretched, we grow stronger!
In terms of income and expenditure: Income as of the end of September was just shy of $30,000 lower than budget. This is in part attributable to fewer weddings and funerals this year than expected which accounts for nearly half this variance (down $14,300), facilities usage is also down by about $4,400. Member Giving to date is about $4,800 lower than anticipated and open collections down by just under $1,700. Expenditure to date has been just under $11,000 lower than budgeted with most areas being slightly less than anticipated and a few items slightly higher.
Whilst it is important for us to consider the financial realities and challenges we face as we think about our own personal contribution to St. Francis-in-the-Wood in the coming year, it is important to reflect on these in relation both to our own financial wealth and resources and in the light of what this church and community means to us. Over the past two weeks I shared with you the testimonies given in church by Ian McBeath and Don Millerd; last Sunday, Linsey Keats shared with us what St. Francis-in-the-Wood means to her. You can read what she said HERE.
Thank you to everyone who has already returned their confidential pledge form, either in the collection plate or mailing in to the office. For those who have yet to do this, you are encouraged to do so please by Thursday, November 15th. On a subsequent Sunday, I am hoping to have a “Blessing of the Pledges” as part of one of our regular services. Thank you in anticipation!
Angus Stuart, Rector