For many years (I’m not exactly sure how long), St. Paul’s has had an annual budget deficit. We’ve survived because saints of old provided a bequest that enabled us to pull from our “savings” and replenish our “checking.”. We withdraw funds from the Diocesan Investment Trust (DIT) each year to pay our general expenses. In addition, we have been receiving $20 – 30 K annually from the Diocese to supplement my salary.
When I began at St. Paul’s in 2018, we had a deficit of $66k that year. That was $66K withdrawn from the principal of our DIT. In the four years I have been Rector, we have managed to reduce the deficit year over year. For 2022, we hope to have reduced the deficit to c $50K. We’ve done this through increased pledge income and decreased spending. For 2023, our pledge income went down just a tad, and we’ve about hit the bottom of our capacity to reduce costs. We can’t cut more from our programming and facilities costs, and inflation is increasing.
Here is the bottom line: the parish cannot be sustained if we continue to live with deficit spending. At the current rate of deficit spending (c $50K yr), we will be forced to close our doors in about five years. That’s hard news. Hopefully, it’s not new information. But we’ve only really talked about our culture of deficit spending at the Annual Meeting. That's needs to change.
I see it like this: The ship of St. Paul’s is in iceberg water. We’ve got an iceberg straight ahead. If we don’t address it, we’ll hit it. If we hit it, we will have to abandon the ship. So, what do we do now to prevent that future?
As an immediate step, I have volunteered to reduce my hours. Beginning in 2023, I will be working three-quarters time. This reduction in hours will save us $22K. In a future essay, I’ll let you know more about what that will mean. Be assured it will not affect our community life.
Removing 6522 Michigan/Heigham House would eliminate $7K in annual fees for repairs, and utilities. It may also generate income from increased parish hall rentals.
These steps will not eliminate our deficit, but they will help.
However, we need all hands on deck. This is not a fearful situation. It’s an opportunity! We can pull together and watch what God will do! We have an on-time God who will provide for our needs according to God’s riches in glory (Phil. 4:19). We’re not abandoned, and we’re not alone.
We have tons of resources as a community and in the Diocese. And the Holy Spirit guides us. Becoming financially stable is part of our growth process.
In the coming weeks, you will receive another survey. It will ask you for ideas, thoughts, and solutions you may have about our situation. In the meantime, talk to your vestry or clergy about your feelings, views, and opinions. Please complete the survey about discerning the plans for Heigham House. And keep giving to St. Paul’s.
Jesus calls us to share this voyage and do all we can to ensure that our ship makes it across the sea on the last day. I pray we will be like those who have gone before us, invested and committed to keeping St. Paul’s as an inheritance for future generations. That’s part of the adventure!
Most of the blog articles are written by our Rector, The Rev. Rebecca Ragland