Dear Friends of God,
We run a good and honest business here at St. Clare’s. The Reverend Carol Cook who assists at our church affirms this and she is a bona fide financial expert for congregations in this diocese.
I point to her skills for two reasons: one, because there’s been some doubt by a few individuals about whether or not we’re running things appropriately at St. Clare’s. And second, there are those who fear we’ll be out of money in two years.
Both are untrue.
However, since the financial crash in 2008 that nearly took down the country, various individuals want more financial transparency. Gone are the days in which we simply put our trust in an institution be it bank, government or church. We as a society have more questions, want to see the books, desire to check and recheck that the money is really going to the purposes to which we pledge, give, and spend.
I understand that and want to bring to your attention at least one change (more will follow) in 2015 that I think will provide clarity and transparency. The change centers on the quarterly giving statements, and the revision will contain the following information:
- Message from the Rector – This section is a simple thank you to the congregation for their faithful support of the mission and ministry of the parish. It will highlight one or two “signs of the kingdom” that our Rector has personally observed that are a direct result of the financial support of the membership.
- Message from someone involved in a ministry. This is less of a focus on a particular ministry and more of a discussion of how this person’s walk with Christ is being impacted by their personal involvement in a particular ministry. Again the ministry is a direct result of the funding provided by the parish.
- Historical income/expense data. This is a three year average so people can get a snapshot in comparison for previous years. For example it will contain percentages of dollars received of the overall budget from the previous three Januarys and compare January 2015 to this percentage. The same with expenses. The goal is to get people to see the actual reality of tracking of dollars versus the perception. It will answer questions like these: Are our summer months slower? When are most dollars spent? We will use graphs or pie charts to provide the details.
- Personal giving statement generated from the church database.
Will this reassure everyone: No.
Will this take care of everything: Hardly.
Does this step bring us closer to better understanding budget, mission and ministry? I believe so.
Bottom line, the take-away for me from meeting with parishioners is a strong desire towards greater clarity and understanding about the finances of the church and the impact they have on ministry. The change in the quarterly statement is one way to get at that and to do so in a manner that provides good and solid accessibility.
Yours for the reign of God,