03 May A Word From…
In addition to our “regular” responsibilities, we have been preparing for the interim period. I have been creating manuals and guides for all the organizational and institutional knowledge that is in my head and delegating responsibilities to staff and volunteers who will assume ownership of the various responsibilities once I am gone. As we enter the month of May my brain has nearly been emptied of all its knowledge and converted to pen and ink for others to pick up in my absence!
One crucial element of our preparation has been the hire of Sarah Erdman to serve as the part-time (5-10 hours/week) Interim Staff Supervisor and Session Moderator. In this new role Sarah will provide assistance and accountability for all FPCSS staff in the interim, as well as organizational leadership for the elders serving on Session. This is an organizational role (i.e. not a pastoral one) that will conclude at a time mutually agreed upon by the elders and next pastor. The responsibilities of this role fit well with Sarah’s skills and experience. I have every confidence that she will do an excellent job in this position.
Looking ahead to the interim we have also created two other part-time positions—a Nursery Aide position (2 hours/week) and a Children & Family Ministries Assistant position (5-10 hours/week). These two positions are intended to help alleviate the increased pressure and responsibility that will inevitably fall to both Dri Bayer and the congregation during the interim and, potentially, beyond. Dri is already actively recruiting for both of these positions. If you or someone you know might be interested in either position, then please fill out the application listed on our website’s employment page.
There is also a change coming to the current make-up of Session. Jonathon Wilson will be stepping away from Session after the May meeting (May 16th) as the Wilsons prepare to relocate to California towards the end of this calendar year. Jonathon has about 1.5 years remaining on his term so the elders will soon be bringing a nominee before the congregation to elect as an elder for the remainder of Jonathon’s term. We are happy for the Wilson’s as they look ahead to this next phase in their lives and we pray that God will go with them and ahead of them in this move. We are also praying that God would bring to us the right person to fill this abbreviated term as a Ruling Elder during the pastoral transition. Would you join me in these prayers?
One other matter that we have been attending to in 2023 is the inflated Operating Reserve at First Pres. An Operating Reserve is designated money intended to be used in the event that the church experiences the loss of all income. You might think of it as a “rainy day” fund. It is a common thing for not-for-profit organizations and churches to hold an Operating Reserve, but the Operating Reserve had become too large at First Pres. This was an oversight of the Session and we are working in 2023 to correct this error. These are funds that you entrusted to the church to use for the ministry of First Pres. and our ministry partners. We want to honor your generosity, intention, trust, and faith in giving these gifts to the church, which is why we are diligently working to correct our inflated Operating Reserve.
So far we have agreed to hold no more than 6 months of operating expenses in our Operating Reserve. We currently have about 13-14 months in Reserve. That means that over the course of the next several months the elders will be having several discussions about how to disburse the current excess in our Operating Reserve. We are committed to having this resolved by the time we are presenting the 2024 annual budget to the congregation and we are excited to share with you the ways in which your gifts and contributions have helped to support our church, our ministries and our ministry partners.
In addition to this initial “skim” of the Operating Reserve to get us down to the agreed upon 6-month ceiling, we anticipate an annual “skim” of the Operating Reserve as well, especially if you continue to give as generously and faithfully as you have in the past. We are excited to use that money annually in creative and God-glorifying ways, and we look forward to sharing with you the ways in which God is using your gifts to expand his kingdom in our world!
Finally, I want to ask for your prayers for this Session during the pastoral transition. We are working well together and we pray that God would continue to foster and protect this precious unity as the elders provide leadership to the church during the interim. May God bring the right pastor to First Pres. quickly and may He keep this church as one while you wait.
Grace and peace to you, First Presbyterian Church
Jonathan + (on behalf of the Session)