This week, we will be meeting together to discuss our budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Like many UU churches, Westside’s fiscal ‘church’ year parallels the public school calendar: our fiscal year runs from July 1-June 30. This year, we at Westside have some tough decisions to make. Our pledge campaign this year came in well under our goal, and we need to make some decisions about how to proceed.
We have a few options in front of us, but they boil down to two main choices: increase revenue and/or decrease spending. Most likely, we will need to use both approaches together to balance the budget this year. Earlier this spring, the Board of Trustees sent out a budget proposal that was optimistic, and included raises for staff. This budget included using some resources from our Fund for the Future. However, since pledging is down significantly, we need to think more long-term about how we want to use this reserve, and how we can create long-term sustainability for Westside. On Sunday, we need to talk deeply and thoughtfully about how we can best steward our resources, and what we want to prioritize for Westside in the coming year.
I want to encourage everyone to remember two things as we go into this conversation:
First, the ‘church’ is a living community of people. Though our building and our programs are important and vibrant expressions of that community, they are not the same thing as that community. And where forms, patterns, and structures are constantly changing in our lives and world, the spirit of Westside remains strong and constant. In fact, the real ‘church’ that is Westside—the people, the connections, the hope, and the vibrancy of the place—is growing healthier every day.
Second, we have lots of options. Let’s remember that there are innumerable ways we can rearrange our resources—which include money, paid staff, volunteer time, our building, etc—to create a sustainable, healthy church. We need to think together, carefully, about how we want to prioritize using each of these resources in both the short-term and the long-term.
In a world where, for a number of reasons, it is becoming harder and harder to maintain the traditional ‘small church’ structure, we need to think creatively about sustaining our community. Westside is an important place, and I know we will all work together to find new ways of growing, learning, and caring about our world together.
Let’s allow the love and enthusiasm we feel for this community to guide us.
Open minds, loving hearts, helping hands.