In 2007, our congregation fulfilled a long-term goal for future space when we purchased and moved into our current property on Meridian Street. This move was a leap of faith, so to speak. With our new, larger property came increased costs for staffing and building maintenance. Ideally, we anticipated huge growth with our new space. And we have seen growth. Unfortunately, this growth has not occurred quickly enough for our pledge dollars to increase at the rate needed to fund our staffing and our program needs, resulting in a budget shortfall over the past several years.
We’ve managed, for the past few years, to meet this budget shortfall by transferring the remaining funds from our capital campaign funds. We knew this would be the case for the first few years; we did not anticipate the shortfall lasting as long as it has. Once we cover the gap for 2013, we will have exhausted those funds. We will have to make some changes for 2014 and beyond.
Ideally, we will have increased growth and pledges to meet our financial needs. With new members comes new revenue. But it takes some time for new members to understand the real costs of operating this congregation. Contributing $20 each week is not nearly enough to cover the operating budget of this church.The board, with the Finance and Strategic Planning Committees, is looking into how we can change our culture of giving, attract new members, and remain fiscally solvent. We are making plans to bring in a UUA consultant to help us navigate this process and plan our future.
This scenario is not all dire; we have seen lots of new faces come through our doors over the past few months, and we welcome their energy and enthusiasm. And we have a building that is paid for. Over the coming months, we will strive to learn how to best use our space and the resources we have in order to remain the much-needed presence for liberal religion we are here in the Lafayette area.
I urge you all — members and friends — to attend the Congregational Meeting at 11.45 am Sunday, December 16, in the Fellowship Hall. We will discuss and vote on the proposed 2013 budget, as well as vote on proposed changes to the Endowment Committee. Come with your questions and concerns. By working together, we will learn how best to plan our future — a future that remains bright.