Financial Update From Erik Martinson, Finance Chair

As we enter the fourth quarter of the church’s fiscal year, the finance committee is busy juggling challenges to ending the current year in balance, achieving a balanced budget for next year, and maintaining our aging facilities.

We currently project a deficit for this year of $17,500 plus or minus $15,000, which amounts to somewhere between 0.5% and 4.75% of our $688,000 budget and does include the alarming possibility of devouring the entirety of our reserve fund. While we have been keeping most of our expenses under budget all year to accommodate some early changes to anticipated income sources, since January we’ve also become increasingly uncertain of our pledge income as payments have fallen behind last year’s pattern. Pledges are our largest source of revenue and fund 84% of the budget, so small deviations in the timing of payments can create substantial anxiety over whether they will all arrive. We typically budget for and achieve a 97% collection rate on received pledges, but last year that fell to 95% and this year we seem to be on pace for 93%. However, we have begun to identify and confirm some large pledges that are late relative to prior year payments, which has relieved some of our anxiety. It would be ideal for our cash flow if everyone paid their pledges by automatic monthly installment, but we realize there may be market and tax planning reasons for doing otherwise. However, if you have not yet paid your 2015-16 pledge and it is later than usual, a note of confirmation that it will be coming before July 1 would be much appreciated.

While collecting payments on the current year pledge is vital to fulfilling our church’s commitments and ministries, equally crucial is the collection of pledge promises for next year ahead of the budget hearing on May 1 and the Congregational vote on June 5. While many did increase their pledge generously during the pledge drive to produce an overall increase to our budgeted pledge of 5% ($26,000), we are really in need of at least 9% ($50,000). Since our church’s necessary expenditures are subject to annual inflationary pressures from multiple sources, everyone’s pledge actually needs to increase every year just to maintain our current level of operations. We are now in the third round of trimming back on our aspirations for next year, which include the following priorities (in alphabetical order):

– Music Program:  Bring the Director to full-time
– Personnel:  Follow compensation guidelines provided by the Unitarian Universalist Association for all positions.
– Reserve Fund:  Maintain and improve its health so that it eventually amounts to 10% of the budget.

If you have not yet turned in your pledge for next year, please do so as soon as possible. If you did not increase your pledge, please reconsider. If you did increase your pledge, please ponder the possibility of making your increase effective immediately rather than waiting until July. Your generous support of our church and its mission is greatly appreciated.

Finally, our facilities require ongoing investment so that they remain an asset rather than turn into a liability. Repairs and improvements to our facilities have long-term consequence but are often cost-prohibitive to accommodate in a single year’s budget. Recognizing this, in 2013 the Congregation approved $50,000 of long-term Notes to be sold to members for use on capital improvements, of which $34,0000 was used in 2014 primarily for parking lot repairs and flooring in the RE building. A number of additional needs have since become apparent, including large cracks in the walkways, additional flooring issues in the RE building, and outdated office infrastructure. The finance committee has thus requested and the board has approved sale of the $16,000 remainder in the capital improvement Note authority to address these needs. The terms of the Notes will conform to the previous issuance, specifically:

Principal value of each new Note: $2,000
Effective date: July 1, 2016
Interest rate: 3% with principle amortized over 20 years
Payment schedule: semi-annual (October and April)
Payoff/refinance: April 1, 2019 (to conform to the cycle of our other debt obligations)

Anyone who would like to purchase one of these new Notes may send an email expressing their interest to carolyn@foothillsuu.org by April 30. Preference will be given to pledging church members who do not currently hold any other long-term Notes from the church. Funds will be due to the church by June 1 to facilitate planning and administration and to accommodate any reconsiderations.

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Our New Shared Ministry Position with the UU Church of Greeley

In case you missed our Chalice Lighting on Sunday, we are excited to share that the Selection Committee appointed by the Boards of the UU Church of Greeley and the Foothills Unitarian Church has selected our candidate for our new shared ministry position.  (Here is the email/post with all the background regarding our shared position.)

It was a wonderful announcement offered both at Foothills and at Greeley’s worship services with representatives from both of our congregations sharing simultaneously to both congregations.

Here’s a summary of their announcement….

Hollis Berendt and Bill Gotchey from Greeley and Karen Harder and Rev. Gretchen Haley from Foothills were each appointed to the Selection Committee and had a wonderful experience interviewing 3 strong candidates for our shared position.  After a thorough review, the team selected Diana McLean, who has been most recently serving as the Intern at the UU Church of Boulder.  Diana brings a wealth of congregational experience, and a passion for our faith as a lifelong Unitarian Universalist.  She has a particular call to leading worship, to pastoral care and the partnership across congregations.  And she brings the extra bonus of having just worked with Foothills’ incoming Interim Senior Minister Howell Lind as his intern.  Check out the video and introductory letter from Diana below.

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Diana McLean with incoming Interim Senior Minister, Rev. Howell Lind

Diana will start on August 1st as a 3/4 time Assistant Minister for both of our congregations. Initially, her time will be focused on getting up to speed with Greeley, but Foothills can expect to see her around as well over these next few months, as she begins to work with Gretchen and our Membership team to better connect all who come, filling the role that many of us have long thought of as “membership and volunteer coordinator.”  Over the course of the year, we look forward to seeing how all three of our ministers and our two congregations can work together to further the reach of love all across Northern Colorado.   If you are interested in being a part of the team that grows our partnership between Greeley and Foothills, please let Rev. Gretchen Haley know.

Please find below a video from Diana introducing herself to the two congregations, as well as a letter from her with a little more information.

– Rich Young and Jennifer Powell, Board of Trustees for Foothills Unitarian Church

– Karen Harder, Board of Trustees for Foothills and Selection Committee member

– Marcia Free, Board of Trustees for UU Church of Greeley

– Hollis Berendt and Bill Gotchey, Board of Trustees for Greeley and Selection Committee members 

– Rev. Gretchen Haley, Associate Minister and Selection Committee member

Video from Diana McLean

Letter from Diana McLean

Dear members and friends at the UU Church of Greeley and Foothills Unitarian,

I am delighted to be joining the ministerial team that will serve the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greeley and the Foothills Unitarian Church. It’s an exciting time to be serving these two congregations, as we all partner to extend the impact of Unitarian Universalism in Northern Colorado.

Diana with her son Aidan

I’ve been a Unitarian Universalist since childhood, and am passionate about ourfaith and what we have to offer to the wider world. My call to ministry began about 15 years ago, and I answered first by deepening my involvement as a layperson in Unitarian Universalist churches as I moved to various parts of the country. I eventually served as a monthly guest speaker at the North Idaho Unitarian Universalists (a church similar in size to the Greeley church) for a number of years before the move to Colorado. Although I had envisioned ordained ministry as something that would wait until my son was grown, I made the leap and began theology school in 2011. I’ll be finishing up over the next year, and also going before the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the UUA this fall.

I have been serving as the Ministerial Intern at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder since August 2014, and have been active in the Boulder-Denver Cluster of Congregations in a variety of ways since moving to Colorado in April 2011. In addition to the natural beauty around us here, I believe we are also surrounded by opportunities to share our faith with others hungry for our messages of love and justice.

Diana Benediction in California April 2015Our faith is covenantal, and for me the power of religious experience is found within our communities, in the human connections we make with each other, which also allow us to deepen our individual spirituality in ways we wouldn’t alone. I look forward to making those connections with you, and to sharing a journey of exploration and depth with you.

In gratitude and anticipation,

Diana