When writing an annual report, it is easy to take out my calendar and look backwards at the events that have taken place. Then I can “report”. I will highlight just a couple of 2011’s memorable moments for me. First was the trip to Malawi in June where we became a “Sister” church with the Chuluchosema Presbyterian Church. What a celebration!! The service lasted 5 hours with communion, 6 choirs singing, and the presentation of a Rooster!! It was a glorious day and it is my prayer that this relationship will flourish and benefit both congregations.
The next event began on Sunday, Nov. 20th, with the “Great Giveaway”. Using a portion of a special gift, 300 envelopes with $50 per envelope were given out to our congregation. Two requirements accompanied those envelopes. Do something good for someone or some organization and send us back a postcard of what you did. I loved it, and our congregation by word and deed showed the love of Jesus Christ through our community and across our world.
Now, here are some observations about our future as a church. The economy, or lack thereof, has impacted many in our church and also our ability to finance the work of SACPC. From 1998 until June of 2008, we had been on a steady growth pattern. That growth was evident in the number of people participating in our worship and programs and in increased financial support of our church. When the downturn started in the middle of 2008, the financial support to our church began a sharp downward trend. Our budget in 2009 was 12% lower than 2008. In real dollars that was $225,000. Unfortunately, that downward trend has continued, but fortunately not nearly as precipitous as the first year. However, in real dollars, our donations dropped over the past 3 years by another $125,000. We have been fortunate to utilize income from our rental property of $50,000 a year which has helped us immensely. Our 2012 budget, again, will use that same amount from the rental property and we will also use $70,000 of reserves (income accumulated in prior years, to help alleviate reducing our budget even further. We have an additional $100,000 of unrestricted reserves which can be used in the future, but that will not last very long at this rate. If our donations continue decreasing, the Session will face some very difficult decisions, especially in the area of Personnel.
One of the issues about staffing is that we do not have a congregation that is substantially less than 2008. If anything, we have a more active participation than we did 4 years ago, but, our ability to give today as we gave 4 years ago has been diminished. We did have one major reduction in our Personnel when Rev. Ann Jahnes decided to leave us and become the Pastor of the Southport Presbyterian Church. Because of fewer resources, we chose not to replace Ann. Last fall, the Session voted to look for a third minister if congregational funding increased, however, that did not happen. Instead our pledges are about $45,000 less for this year.
Like a lot of non-profit organizations, we are attempting, with the congregation’s help, to continue the level of programs, worship, care, missions, and service to our community as we have in the past. I think we are even doing more with less financial resources. I believe we have an excellent staff and excellent lay leadership. Our congregation is strong, healthy, and supports the work of this church, even in tough economic times.
The Presence and Power of God’s Spirit is abundantly evident in our church. We have a great future ahead of us as we seek to faithfully carry out the vision and values our Session adopted last year. Thank you for the privilege of being your Head of Staff.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Steve Hein