By Kate Silfen, Church Historian | December 20, 2022
The last Church Council meeting of 2022 began on a festive note as members shared what they were most looking forward to about the Advent season. Many are looking forward to the first in-person Christmas Eve services since 2019.
Senior search committee chair Maren Batalden was pleased to report that she is working with a very engaged and conscientious group. “People are showing up with their whole selves,” Maren noted. The committee has held a mock interview with a neighboring minister, and they received excellent feedback and suggestions from this experienced pastor. Maren said that the committee now has a strong and diverse pool of candidates, and they plan to schedule virtual interviews once the New Year begins. Moderator Phil Stern thanked Maren and the committee for their diligent work.
Treasurer Bill Bulkeley reported on the current state of the church’s finances and also presented a preview of the 2023 budget. Due to increased building usage, incoming pledges, and staff vacancies, the church is ending the year with a much smaller deficit than the Finance Committee had anticipated at the beginning of 2022. The 2023 budget is a bit more sobering. Steep inflation is driving double-digit increases in health insurance, property taxes, and utilities. The Finance Committee needs to consider carefully a multitude of uncertain factors on both spending and projected income balance while keeping the church’s potential 2023 deficit at minimum levels. Bill noted that surplus money from previous years has created a “rainy day fund” that will be sufficient to cover this deficit. Of course, one of the major factors that will affect the 2023 budget is the upcoming stewardship season, in which we pray for continued membership generosity. Bill and Phil asked Council members to prayerfully consider these matters before reviewing the proposed budget at the January Council meeting.
On a more upbeat note, Council unanimously approved the Christian Service & Outreach Committee’s grant recipients for the coming year. These include: Mass and Cass, Solutions at Work, and the Allston-Brighton Food Pantry. Phil also announced that our new Associate Minister Ashley Popperson would begin her work with us on February 8, 2023. He has had a chance to meet with her over lunch, and she looks forward to being part of our community!