Exciting news! Approximately 150 members joined clergy and lay leaders for this informational meeting, to hear updates on our transition progress, budget and giving, and vitality. Below is a summary of the meeting; the minutes of the meeting will be posted on the Member Portal in early December.
Erica began with a recap of the foundational work of the Sacred Circles. Drawing over 250 members, these gatherings began the rebuilding of our capacity for important conversations as a faith community. For a complete report on the lessons from Sacred Circles, go to ahcc.org/about-ahcc/transition-news.
Stepping Stone 2 – Café Conversations began in November with nearly 100 people attending so far. More gatherings are scheduled in December and January, and all are encouraged to sign up. Taking the aspirations and the concerns we shared in the Sacred Circles, the Café Conversations take us deeper into the things that matter most to our church: rebuilding our sense of community, for exploring challenges together, and readying ourselves as a faith community for the call of a new minister.
John shared that Stepping Stone 3, a Vision Gathering, we anticipate taking place in March, will be a celebration and culmination of our transition work together. At this church-wide gathering, we will create a statement that articulates the vision we have for AHCC, and acknowledges the leadership gifts we will need to move us forward. Immediately following the Vision Gathering, our Senior Minister Search Committee will be launched. Deacons have been asked to make recommendations for Search Committee candidates. The formation of a team to help plan and facilitate the Vision Gathering is now underway. Anyone wishing to assist, please contact Bart Halloran, Erica or John.
Budget and Giving
Holly offered an update on our current $2.2M budget. In October, the Administration and Finance Committee worked with the Diaconate to close a projected budget gap of over $200,000 using the following strategies:
- Keep our expenses flat, as opposed to cutting, in order to maintain the quality of worship, programs and events we value
- Raise the endowment draw to the 5% cap. We strive to contain the draw to between 3-5% in order to protect the principal funds in the endowment. The endowment has recently provided 25-30% of our annual budget, so preserving the principal of the fund is acknowledged as a worthy goal
- Use four non-endowment, unrestricted funds and one endowment income fund specifically restricted to cover church maintenance
Holly offered a review of pledging/giving over the past two years, showing a consistent level of giving at $1.3M. However, several changes in the patterns of giving have made budgeting difficult: roughly $185,000 in non-pledged, unpredictable giving last year, and approximately $128,000 in pledge payments made after the fiscal year had ended, likely due to household preferences regarding the timing of pledge payments. We continue to study these changes in giving to help inform our plans for stewardship.
Erica concluded the presentation with reflection on the measures of vitality. Churches often gauge their strength in terms of membership numbers, worship attendance and pledging. The good news is, despite our fears that many have left the church this past year, only 19 people formally withdrew membership since June, and seven of those due to moving out of area. On November 26, we welcomed 10 new members. For a church steadying itself, examining its direction and rebuilding its sense of community, these numbers suggest that we are moving forward and upward.
There are many signs of vitality at AHCC, far too many to list in this writing. A reading of any HCN issue, weekly bulletin or Thursday email will reveal the opportunities for fellowship, worship, education and faithful action. Lean in, participate in our transition time and help build the future of AHCC!