Reflecting on Five Years of Balanced Budgets: Old First E-pistle 01.24.14

Reflecting on Five Years of Balanced Budgets: Old First E-pistle 01.24.14

In the January meeting of Elders, our agenda included reviewing the proposed 2014 Budget as presented by the Admin. SLG. It had been a long journey since an early draft the Elders had seen before Christmas, but the Admin. team led by Jonathan Vogan and Treasurer Adam Sherr had managed to prepare a prudent, thoughtful, and imminently believable 2014 budget that also featured… a surprise… a modest surplus!

The Elders then debated, for a few moments, adding additional dollars to certain budget expense line items to reduce the surplus to a pre-determined target.

Let me go ahead and repeat that last one for emphasis: “The Elders then debated, for a few moments, adding additional dollars to certain budget line items to reduce the surplus.”

I have been involved in the preparation of the church’s annual budget for five years now, and I don’t think in any of that time have we had the relative luxury of wondering what to do with extra shekels in the budget!

Anyway, I mentioned this in the Elders meeting, and it was great for us to reflect for a few moments on how far we’ve come. We thought it would be good, important even, to share that reflection with the whole church community.

I’m happy to report (at the risk of some thunder-stealing—sorry Jonathan!) that 2013 marks the fifth straight year that Old First finished its fiscal year with “break even” performance or slightly “in the black” as Adam would say.

Balancing certainly hasn’t been easy, and a strengthening economy has certainly provided some welcome tailwinds. But our success never would have happened without the consistent generosity of our members and the wonderful, well-timed gifts from a number of individuals—some of whom were anonymous. As well, we’ve seen a steady growth in size of our overall community, and there was a significant uptick this year in our number of pledges and amount pledged.

There is still deferred maintenance to be tackled. And additional ministries a growing community can take on as additional resources come our way. But we’re headed in the right direction.

The Admin SLG also played a crucial part over the past five years by:

• Implementing financial controls,

• Conducting budget performance forecasting throughout the fiscal year,

• Opening up the budget development process to include the voices and opinions of the other SLG leaders,

• Recasting the budget to provide greater visibility into its major components, and

• Implementing contingency planning during the fiscal year in case things don’t proceed in the financial results as initially planned.

I wanted to share this with you as we head into 2014 and our Capital Campaign planning moves to the execution phase. Jonathan has many more improvements to our financial processes, policies and procedures in store for 2014. The Elders are confident that the sophistication with which Old First conducts financial stewardship will only increase.

I hope you are as proud of how far we’ve come as I am, and I look forward to what 2014 may bring!

Thank you! And see you in worship and at the Annual Meeting afterwards,

Larry Waddell, Moderator