First Unitarian Church of Worcester

Sermons, Memos and other writings from the newsletter and worship services of the First Unitarian Church of Worcester. The First Unitarian Church is located at 90 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608. Our phone is 508-757-2708 and our webpage is A audio CD is produced for almost every one of our regular services. Call our office or send a note to the office at our website to request that one be shipped to you.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Tis the Season" by Revs. Merritt and Schade

“’Tis the Season”

“It’s that most wonderful time of the year,” goes the song. And it is not just the season of holiday cheer, family togetherness, sleigh bells and snowflakes on our nose and eyelashes, and chestnuts roasting on open fires, but also the season of our yearnings for peace, and goodwill for all, and Tiny Tim, shouting "Bless us All, Everyone" and best of all, figuring out what to do about the $20,000 church deficit.


That's right. It is the end of the fiscal year at the First Unitarian Church and we have to confirm that which we suspected all year long; the church spent more than it took in this year.

The church leadership has been anticipating this deficit. Very early on, we realized that the church had budgeted too little money for the transition for the Interim Director of Religious Education, (an additional $6000 was spent.) We would have very little slack in the budget in the case of any other unanticipated expenses. Every year the budget is our best estimate...and we build in contingency funds. Nevertheless, we didn't anticipate 1) that we would completely catch up on three years of overdue audits this year, costing us an additional $10,000. 2) We had two angels who contributed money to cover a major boiler repair, and a restoration of an exterior retaining wall and banking that was dangerous. But a new regime of water treatment for the boiler is costing an additional $1600. 3) members promised to try to pay unpaid 2005 pledges, but we still came up $2500 short. We knew that we would be projecting a deficit at the beginning of December; the question was how much. The way to minimize it was to do everything as well as we could.

Throughout the year, expenses were watched carefully. Some areas of church life are returning funds that were budgeted but unused. The Music Department saved significant amounts of money this last year. And our goal was to do as well as we possibly could in everything else that we could do.

Auction co-chairs Madeline Silva and Mary McAllister led us to an excellent auction in the spring which was a big help. Our Steeple Lighting fundraiser program and the spring plant sale were other successes. The proceeds from the wonderful new choir Gospel CD, as well as continued sales of the original, have earned money for the church. The assessors were more diligent than ever before about asking new members to make pledges as soon as possible. They also made sure that new members had the information they needed to make an appropriate pledge.

Two things we did not do. One, we did not restrict the Church's generosity. We continued to raise money and conduct fundraisers for other worthy causes. We had special collections for the Sudanese Lost Boys, The Elm Park Community School Children's Fund, The Carty Cupboard, UNICEF, and The Peace Corps Water Pumps project. Everyone remembers the Fabulous Fifties Floor Show which raised money for Epilepsy Research. We still intend to dedicate the Christmas Eve offering to the Interfaith Hospitality Network, (the organization through which the church provides hospitality to homeless families and children for 2-3 weeks during the year. (This year our donation will be matched, and doubled!) It is an article of faith for us that the only way to invite generosity into your own life is to practice it.

The other was that we chose not to push the panic button and talk often about the probably deficit for the year. Our plan was to take the year one step at a time; do each thing as well as possible (good Auction, good pledge drive, good fundraisers) and then see where we would be at the end of the year. Now we are at the end of the year, and the deficit is still here and still going to be a problem. We have elected to combine a final fundraiser with our end of the year appeal.

We are enclosing an envelope with this newsletter. We are asking you to make a generous contribution to close our deficit. If every member of the congregation contributed about 6% of their 2006 pledge amount, this deficit would disappear. If you are not a member, please consider making a contribution to this church this year, perhaps in appreciation of this weekly newsletter, or in gratitude for some beautiful music you heard here, or in memory of friend's funeral held in our sanctuary.

Please mail your envelope to the church office, or better yet, bring it with you when you attend services during the holiday season. Best of all, bring it to church this Sunday when Mantown, our irrepressible ad-hoc Men's Group is hosting a Black and White “Close-the- Deficit” Coffee Hour.

Whether you can give only $20...or $2,000, together we can balance this year's budget. Will you join us?


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