The Annual Meeting is always a pivotal moment in the yearly calendar of our church. We approve a budget for the coming year that sets our goals and expectations for giving and ministry. We approve our leaders, people who put in countless hours to assist Pastor Michael and the other staff in making sure that the Church’s business is taken care of. There are usually significant issues to be discussed. The past couple years our meeting has been dominated by the Capital Campaign and what to do with the property housing the Fox and C/E buildings. And this year was no different.
We heard from Treasurer Jonathan Vogan that the 2017 budget ended almost $10,000 in the black, as a result of strong giving and low expenses. Expenses so low that he even admonished us for not spending enough in our ministry! While I am sure that Jonathan would caution us not to spend recklessly, it is a call to remind us that we must continue our work, our ministry, and that that sometimes costs money. Funds spent in furthering our mission are resources that will be returned to us tenfold, if not monetarily then spiritually. It was a call for all the SLGs to continue their good work.
Jonathan also brought us the great news that for the first time in four years, we were able to base the coming year’s budget on current pledges, rather than what we expected the eventual pledge amount to be. This was a cause for congratulations, as it means that we, as a congregation, were timely in submitting our stewardship pledges, and even more deserving of congratulations is that the overall pledge amount increased! We truly are a strong congregation.
We gave thanks and approval to our slate of leaders, which had no changes save for Bill George taking the reins from Kris Forrest as Assistant Financial Secretary. We thank Kris for her service and dedication and welcome Bill to the fold. With Jonathan, Adam Sherr, and Bill, we can rest easy that our finances are well looked after.
As I mentioned, the Capital Campaign was once again a topic of discussion at this year’s Annual Meeting. Nancy Donohue reminded us of what we have achieved so far with the incredibly generous giving of those who have donated (windows! a new elevator! the boiler!), and the youth, supported by the choir, provided us with a celebratory treat in thanks. Nancy outlined what was still to come. We have approximately $75,000 on hand to make further improvements, and the Capital Campaign Construction Committee foresees the outside courtyard to be the recipient of those next improvements.
But we are not done yet! The Capital Campaign may be coming to a close, but it is not over yet. We still have many outstanding pledges, whether they be from those close to fulfilling their pledge, or those who are waiting to make a final large donation, or those who have not had an opportunity to pledge yet but would still like to do so. This final influx of pledge money will further expand the projects that can be completed, and promises that can be fulfilled, and you should expect a follow up from the Elders in the coming weeks. We are almost there!
Finally, we received a presentation from Clark Dingham, representing the 4th Street Parcel Committee, about the committee’s recommendation, with the blessing of the Board of Elder’s, of Community Ventures as the development partner for the 4th Street Parcel. Clark eloquently outlined that, based on the criteria the committee used to judge the three applicants, Community Ventures best fit our goals for the new project, and our mission as a congregation. They would provide Old First with adequate office, Christian Ed, and program space, provide the most housing for the homeless population we endeavor to serve, provide the most comprehensive social services to that population, and treat us as an equal partner in the coming project. There were many questions from those assembled, and there will still be more to come. In the next few weeks, we will invite Community Ventures, and their social service partner DePaul USA, to make a presentation of their own to the congregation. We will have further discussion of the proposed partnership, and then sometime in the next couple months the Elders will call another Congregational Meeting and we will vote on whether or not to approve Community Ventures as our development partner.
From there our leaders will begin negotiating with Community Ventures and DePaul USA on a contract and specific project plan that will then have to be fully approved by the congregation. Once all the approvals are made by all sides, the development process will begin, and that could still take several years.
So it seems that these issues will continue to dominate our discussions and congregational meetings, and that is because exciting things are happening at Old First Reformed. If you have any questions or concerns, you are always welcome to speak with Pastor Michael, myself, and any of the Elders.
Yours in Christ,