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Sunday, December 15, 2013

RECENT SPENDING DECISIONS

TRINITY CONGREGATIONAL COUNCIL
Trinity Lutheran Church, Pembroke Pines, FL
December 15, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we completed our recent loan agreement with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, which Thrivent approved after a review our overall financial status, the need for a deeper and more thorough examination of our finances became apparent to your congregational council. We invited the Florida-Bahamas Synod treasurer, Jerry Johnson, to join us in this review, and through this work it became clear to us that our current financial picture was clouded by decreasing revenue and increasing expenses. This has led the council into action in the exercise of their fiduciary responsibility under Trinity’s Constitution. Reviewing five years of data and focusing more in detail upon the last several years, the need to cut expenses is both clear and necessary in our immediate future. 

While attendance during the first five months of our fiscal year (July through November) has remained roughly constant over the past five years, general and loose offerings are down 20% during that same period. Though we have more outside groups using our facilities and contributing substantially to our bottom line (over $5,000 dollars in the first five months of this fiscal year alone), this additional income has not kept pace with the decrease in overall giving. Based upon our calculations using the data at hand, we must through a combination of budget cuts and greater revenue, produce a positive net change of approximately $20,000 in our cash flow, which represents a little more than 10% of our current budget. 

Trinity’s Congregational Council recently approved a plan that would meet 75 percent of this goal within the next four months (by May 1st) through direct cuts and recent increases in group contributions, then allow the generosity of the congregation through your giving to dictate the next steps. In a budget as lean as ours, in which salaries make up two-thirds of our spending, any cut can impact both the congregation and its employees in significant ways.  These cuts can be summarized as follows:

  • ·       The elimination of Pastor Keith’s approved raise for the most recent budget year returning him to his 2009 salary, for a savings of $2886

  • ·       A reduction in organist Barbara Gilson’s salary for a savings of $1840 due to the elimination of the 8AM service

  • ·       A reduction in our Office Administrator hours and pay by 25%, through May 1st then the elimination of that job as a paid position. After May 1st a portion of those savings will go towards the hiring of a book keeper and re-distribution of some of the positions’ responsibilities for an overall savings of approximately $3400.

  • ·       A reduction in our contribution given as synodical benevolence for the work of the greater church of which we are but a local expression for a savings of approximately $1000

  • ·       Consolidation of our phone lines and miscellaneous non-salary-related cuts for a savings of approximately $2,000

  • ·       Increase/new contributions by outside groups using our facilities: Approximately $4560 in increased revenue has already been approved and is being received.


None of these cuts was made lightly and all were made looking towards the future as we seek God’s will in our mission for the Gospel. When employees are both members and friends it can be particularly difficult. A ministry review has already been slated as a part of Pastor Keith’s sabbatical with more substantial conversation later this spring after Pastor Keith’s return.  The role of a healthy balance of income and expenses is to enable us to maximize ministry for the sake of the gospel; to keep doing the things that we are doing that God is already richly blessing and too seek out where God is calling us to bring light into darkness and speak a word of hope to brokenness.  It is first and always about God’s mission in and through us and never about lights on and doors open and trying to survive.  God has and is blessing us in abundance and richly. Scarcity is not the well from which we draw our strength. God is doing some amazing things here and our future is full of promise.  There just comes a time in the life of a congregation when former ways of doing things must give way to new ways in order to sustain and enable even greater ministry. And the time has come for us to attain the financial health needed to support being the congregation that God is calling us to be.

You may be asking: What can I do now? How can help? We do not fundraise our budget, but each of us bears our portion, our share as God has enabled us and blessed us. For those who have not yet begun to contribute, we invite you to do so, for even a small offering establishes a healthy discipline of abundance and generosity. For those who give occasionally, consider given regularly through the use of envelopes or through online electronic giving (Marilyn Cannezzaro can assist in setting that up). For those already giving regularly, consider giving more deeply as a challenge to yourself. We will be providing more regular updates now that we have done the hard work of a through financial review and we will continue to be working with our synodical treasurer for guidance on best practices. And we will continue to pray and reflect and seek to be the church that God calls us to be and serve with the whole of our lives. Feel free to bring your questions to any of the Executive members of Council: Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Ron McCoy, Earline LaCroix, Carl Berkey-Abbott or Pastor Keith. And thank you for your continuing generosity and service! 

Ever in Christ,

Your Trinity Congregational Council

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