A Message from the Senior Warden
As I write this, Sonoma County is going through a
transformation: the smoke is being blown out; the numerous arms of the
Glass Incident Fire are winnowing down to a handful of remote hotspots;
the roads that were closed to allow first responders exclusive access
are reopening; and the RAIN is coming (thank God!).
I know from personal experience how otherworldly the first trip back to a burned-out home is. The denuded landscape is reminiscent of what is so familiar, but irrevocably changed, all at the same time. That first trip home brings a review of what was lost, but more important, what was preserved…. A home still standing is a gift from God, yet even the discovery of Christmas iconography among a field of ashes gives those who lost their home a moment of Grace in the love of God. This ability for men and women of Christ, fallen, imperfect creatures, to find hope in whatever God has left them, is undeniably part of what it means to be made in the image of God.
In many ways, the coronavirus pandemic and the fallout from social distancing compels your Vestry to review our congregation’s financial health in a similar way. Thanks be to God, many of our parishioners have maintained their incomes, and thus their ability to maintain, or even increase, their pledges. Still, other parishioners have found their income reduced; moreover, our ability to reach new parishioners is less than what it would be in “normal” times. These and other items, as explained in the enclosed report by Treasurer David Jasper, point to a necessary and sobering reevaluation of the financial health of our church. We have to be realistic about what our pledges, and therefore our budget, can accomplish.
The Vestry, in the next few months, will fulfill its goal to limit our annual draw from the Don and Maureen Green Fund to 7% of its value. We must find the ability to live within our means, that which God has given us as a worship community—and that means not taking resources from our future parishioners to supplement our worship and programs today. We can no longer operate with our budget derived from the expense side. We need to understand how much we will take in first, then fund our programs accordingly. Simply put, for the first time in five years, our budget will be determined by pledge income.
We need to accept that expecting more than God has given us in the moment is unfair to those who come after us. This means that we need to give to the best of our ability today; yet even if we do give as much as we can, we must still be prepared for God to leave us less than what we hoped for. As Stephen said in his October 4th News and Notes article, 2020 has felt like a year out of Job. As God helps Job “resist easy answers,” we, too, must be prepared to resist easy answers and put our faith in God, trusting that He will give us exactly what we need.
October 5, 2020