“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11
At its last meeting, the Vestry of Saints Andrew & Matthew made the hard decision not to approve additional funding for the Music Ministry.
At issue was a modest proposal to use professional singers in our worship services this fall. The price tag was minimal — $2,700 total to use one singer each Sunday from September through December, and more singers at Christmas. Usually we have eight or nine professionals singing in the choir every Sunday except for summer, but nothing has been usual since the governor’s emergency declaration in March.
Have you been watching our excellent pre-recorded worship services on YouTube and Facebook? As our Associate for Liturgy, David Christopher is producing these, learning new video-editing skills. He schedules and films those saying the prayers and readings, delivering the sermon, and celebrating the eucharist. Professional singers and chanters have been part of these productions, as have volunteer singers. Sometimes the professionals have volunteered. This $2,700 proposal would let us have at least one professional singer in every video this fall, one way of keeping the content fresh and the quality high.
Facing A Deficit
In normal times, this Music Ministry request might have been granted simply by moving funds around within the existing operating budget — the total requested was less than one half of one percent of our budget. In normal times, this modest request might have been approved without worrying where the money would come from. Sadly, these times are not normal and there is nothing modest about the deficit our church is currently facing.
In its approved budget for 2020, the vestry planned for 13% less income this year; $628,013 in 2020 instead of the $721,709 income we were blessed with in 2019. More recent estimates show the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our church’s finances may be worse than planned. Our most recent estimate is for a $78,000 shortfall this year even with the new, reduced operating budget.
Facing such dire estimates of less income, few vestry members could, in good conscience, approve additional expenses, not when cutting expenses is in order. So the vestry reluctantly disapproved this additional spending for the Music Ministry.
The vestry hopes volunteer singers will step up. SsAM is blessed with professional singers and musicians in our congregation who may step up. We have gifted amateurs. We have people like me who have never put themselves forward. Some parts of the Sunday services can be said rather than chanted or sung. We may have to use old recordings. We may have to use the same recordings more than once. Such were the hopes expressed at our meeting, hopes that the content of our worship videos can be kept fresh and the quality high even without this funding.
If Income Is Less
If income to the church is less than expected, it only means that our church must bear its share of the hurt experienced by other institutions and individuals during the pandemic. Let me go further and say, personally, that I believe the church should go out of its way to share that hurt, helping others at its own expense, as an institution. Financial stability is not our only priority. Each of us, and our church, can be financially responsible and generous, even sacrificial.
If income to the church is less than expected, that may be a sign that some members of our congregation are struggling with their incomes. Since this is a pastoral issue, vestry members have no idea who is in trouble, or how the church is helping those in need. That information is not shared with us except in the most general terms. If you are in financial need, or any need or just want to talk, please contact Father David. He has a discretionary fund that is part of our operating budget, and he can recommend other resources. What the vestry can do is pray for all our members during these disturbing times. This we do, just as we encourage you to pray for us, we who serve the church.
Thank You, Bill Kauffman
Speaking of those who serve the church, another hard decision made by the Vestry at our last meeting was to accept the resignation of Bill Kauffman as chair of the Finance Committee. Bill had announced that he was going to resign months ago, but then COVID-19 hit and the Finance Committee, under his leadership, was busier than ever. It crafted an operating budget, successfully applied for a PPP Loan, found a new treasurer, is preparing capital and ministry budgets, and is monitoring income and expenses as the year progresses. That is a lot for someone to oversee who was ready to step down after years of service. If you can, reach out to Bill and thank him for his service to the church, and for his additional service.
–Danny Schweers, Vestry Member
NOTE: This Vestry View is our way of sharing with you the issues facing SsAM. We are sending it out by email and posting it on the SsAM website, where you can find an archive of our communications. ACTION ITEM: Send us your comments and questions!