Come Grow with Us!

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From the minister –

What does it mean to be called to lead a congregation?  I suppose ministers have many answers to this question.

For me, a congregation calls a minister to help them dream about their future as people of faith and as a healthy religious community.  A congregation calls a minister to help them articulate those dreams into achievable goals by capitalizing on their strengths and shoring up their weaknesses.  A congregation calls a minister to help lead them toward accomplishing those goals and realizing their potential as a force for support and positive change.  And a congregation calls a minister to help them celebrate their victories and mourn their losses, passing on their legacy to their children.

Must a congregation invest in a minister to achieve all these things?  Perhaps not.  But I believe the investment bears abundant fruit, both for the congregation, but also for the greater community, and Unitarian Universalism as a whole.  A minister is a serious commitment of money, energy, and time, but I believe that vibrant churches need committed spiritual leaders to work hand-in-hand with lay leaders so that both bring out the best in the other.

Similarly, a religious community makes other investments: a building to serve as a home for worship, learning, and fellowship; staff to provide expertise and relieve lay people of difficult tasks; and a host of supplies, equipment, and food to support church activities.  But, what about those dreams?  Where does the money come from to fund the dreaming, the goal setting, and the realization of potential?

Pledges pay for the lights; they pay for the paper and postage; and they pay the salaries and expenses of ministers and staff.  But, most important, pledges pay for your dreams.  Pledges allow you to imagine what is possible, to create something where nothing exists, to build a church that will shine like a beacon to the lost, the seekers, the fellow travelers on the road.

As your minister, I can tell you with every confidence that UUCC has enormous potential…untapped potential to be that beacon in Columbia and beyond.  I have heard some of your dreams and I am ready to help you express them in action.  I promise to do everything in my power and to use all of my skills to help you become the church you want to become.  I ask you to commit yourself to this religious community as well, and through your pledge, move UUCC into a new era.

 

From the President –

The church year follows a predictable arc.  It begins in summer with new people in new roles on the Board and in Committees.  It picks up speed as we return from vacations and the Religious Exploration Program starts up Autumn classes.  As the days shorten the list of church functions lengthen into the Holidays and winter.  Then as the days warm and lengthen into spring we enjoy a variety of functions we have come to expect such as the Chili Cookoff, Chocolate Auction, and Beltane.  Then we have the Annual Meeting and slip again into summer. It is regular like clockwork; a comfortable series of events.

Another function which reliably returns each spring is the Annual Pledge Drive.  This year it will be largely like past years; we will eat some tacos, have some fun, and begin making pledges to support the faith community that is us.

Each year we talk about how important it is to pledge; how the money pays our minister and other staff, how it keeps the lights on; how it supports the change we want to see in the world.  But this year is different.

We still need to pay our staff and keep the lights on, but look around you.  See the improvements that are being made to our building to make it a more welcoming home for us here and those that are not here, but need what this place has to offer.  See the new minister in our pulpit and active in our community with his passion to make our dreams a reality in a world that needs us.

After the pledge drive is over we will again do what we do each year; develop a budget based on the amount of money committed.  If the result is as it is each year in the past, we will have enough money to keep the lights on and to pay our staff and then choose which, if any, of our many dreams can be funded.  But this year can be different.

This year we can meet the challenge before us with an improved facility and a new minister and fund these dreams.  We can build the community we want to see.  We can support the work of our staff and volunteers to make a difference in the world.  We can grow.

So that next year we can look back at the commitments made now, and know that dreams can come true.

 

From the Finance Chair –

Our theme this year is “Come Grow with Us!”  It took the Finance Committee only a few minutes to settle on it, because it fits our situation so well.  You can see some of the growth around you, from the construction that our capital campaign has made possible, to our new settled minister, Rev. Jeff Liebmann, to our wealth of programs.   You’ve made it possible to get where we are, and we need your help to move even further.

I find pie charts like those enclosed are the best way to visualize our budget situation, and graphics are a real help for me.  These are from last year’s budget.

2018-19 Finances

If we look at the one for expenses, we see three nearly equal portions:

  • Our minister’s compensation. This is set by our contract with him.
  • Compensation for the rest of our employees. We’d like to increase these amounts, if we can; we certainly cannot fairly reduce them.
  • All other expenses. Some of these are effectively fixed (power, utilities) as well.  The fact that programs are a relatively small fraction of the pie is the reason your contributions are so important in determining what programs the Board can include in the budget they present to you at the annual meeting.  Even relatively small incremental amounts can make a big difference in the amount available for the things we want to do.

The income chart makes its own point: more than 80% of our income comes from your contributions.  Every once in a while, I find someone this surprises, but it’s true.  We don’t get money from the denomination; in fact, we contribute to it to support the services we receive.  We raise money from ourselves, to support the programs and activities we decide to undertake.  This is the highest tradition of free religion: we make, and are responsible for, our own decisions.  Just as we make our own decisions, we have to support them financially.

When you pledge, today or in the next few days, won’t you please be generous in your support of our beloved Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, and all it can do for us, for the community, and for those yet to join?