The major news of the summer is that Rev. Connie Grant has agreed to serve as interim minister for our church. Along with welcoming an experienced leader to help the church on the next phase of our journey, the finance team and board are also happy that we now have clarity on what the 2019 budget will be for the remainder of the year. While there was no significant difference overall from what we expected, the devil is always in the details and it feels good to have that resolved.
With that preamble, I can say with greater confidence that church finances continue to be healthy. Income and expenses are in general tracking the budget. On the expense side, utility costs continue to be a challenge to estimate as we learn how to budget expenses with the new geothermal system in its second full year of operation. Increases in waste disposal and water fees also contribute, as a result of the changing economics of recycling and the rate increases associated with remediation of the region’s sewage system. On the income side, rental income is ahead of expectations, in large part due to a noticeable increase in the number of wedding rentals. Whether this will continue into future years is hard to predict, but I am confident that having a cool sanctuary during the hotter months can only be helping.
The summer has also seen a couple of building projects around the church. The obvious one is the refurbishing of the sanctuary doors on the Morewood Ave entrance, so that entrance temporarily closed. In addition to much needed maintenance of the wood and glass, the antiquated locking mechanism is being replaced by a modern crash bar. This will allow the doors to be used for easy exit in an emergency even when they have been locked for security reasons. The other project has been a thorough refresh of the minister's office for the first time in decades, addressing numerous issues. As part of this project all the carpeting in the business office area is also being replaced. I thank Ray Schinhofen and Brian Rohleder for leading these efforts.
During second quarter, share the plate donations provided $807.64 for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU), $755 for the UUSC, and $795.24 for SisTers PGH. My thanks to the congregation for their generosity.
Claus D. Makowka
Giving statements for the second quarter have either been sent out electronically or are being sent out by mail. Since the statements are coming out a little late, they include information from January 1 to July 31. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at church or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As is normal for the summer, pledge donations are slightly below budget. If you have fallen behind, September is a great time to catch up as the church activities ramp up for the fall.
If you need a refresher on reading the new giving statements produced by Breeze, please refer back to my April Blog post First Quarter 2019 Letter from the Treasurer.
Giant Eagle Cards
If you shop at Giant Eagle for your groceries, you can support the church by purchasing Giant Eagle cards after the service most Sundays. You are able to spend the full amount of what you pay for the card and the church gets a 5% commission on the sale. This is a great way to support the church at no cost to you, with just a little effort to stop by after the service.