Church News and Announcements

Board Report – December 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Your Board met twice in December. First was a Dec 2 special budget meeting, and second was the regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 16.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Many thanks are due to the Budget Committee members – Ward Kelsey, Bari Roman, and Gordon Hargreaves – for their hard work with our Senior Minister in assembling budget alternatives for Board consideration. At the previous meeting the Board agreed that it was important to search for ways to reduce the anticipated 2016 budget deficit. Accordingly, Rev. Herndon presented four alternative budgets on behalf of the committee.

Board members discussed various ways to reduce expenses such as shutting the church down for a month during the summer; reducing salaries to reflect the guidelines for a smaller church; and employing the music director for 10 months instead of 12, in order to compensate her fairly for her responsibilities during the months she will be working.

Discussion turned to the reasons for declining income and ways to increase future income. It was noted that gift income has dropped substantially due to the unfortunate death of a single large donor. Also income from investments is declining due both to historically low interest rates and to withdrawals from investment holdings to cover recent operating deficits.

Pledge income has also been declining. This is due to falling membership, not smaller pledges. In fact, inflation-adjusted pledging per member has remained essentially the same over the past decade. There is also concern that the demographics of our congregation have been changing – especially that there are fewer young families as reflected in reduced RE enrollment.

It has been brought to the Board’s attention that the elimination of the Sunday receptionist has been very disruptive, while the savings are quite small (less than $2000).

After some discussion, it was proposed to approve a budget that funds the music director for 10 months (rather than 12) while restoring the Sunday receptionist. The Board unanimously approved that budget.

Discussion then turned to presentation of the budget to the congregation. It was agreed that a key observation is that declining membership is driving lower pledge revenue and hence our recurring deficits.

It was also agreed that our financial status should be made visually clear to the congregation. Brady, Kathy, and Bob took on the task of preparing a presentation for Board review and comment.


Board Report – December 2015

At the meeting on the 16th much time was spent reflecting on the Congregational Budget Meeting the previous Sunday, Dec 13. Kathy felt the presentation and discussion succeeded in clearly conveying our financial situation. The message about declining membership led to multiple suggestions from the congregation for ways to retain and attract members. It is also important to understand the reasons why members leave (or stay), which might be achieved by reviewing yearly membership lists and interviewing members.

The Board also discussed the report on RE status submitted by DRE Steven Mead on Dec. 9. Millennials may be a key to understanding why RE attendance is trending down, both in our church and in the denomination generally. Although it seems that our denomination fits millennial viewpoints, we do not see that reflected in young adult attendance or RE enrollment. It was suggested that we might gain insight about appealing to millennials from Jon van B theme talk “Faith Evolving” at the 2015 Summer Institute.

Finally, the Board unanimously approved three motions:

  • The Senior Minister’s housing allowance for 2016
  • Two candidates for Endowment Committee vacancies – Kate Angell for Social Justice and Adrian Gonzales for Campus Ministries.
  • Betty Duquesnoy as the Board representative on the Right Relations Committee

Respectfully submitted,

Bob Mitchell – or

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First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh
605 Morewood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 621-8008     Map and directions
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