The board met Tuesday evening and approved an initial 2018 budget of $478,000. This is still $23,000 less than our 2017 budget but much better than we had feared. Since last week’s e-blast on the projected shortfall, pledges increased $7,381. Thank you to everyone who pledged and especially to those of you who increased your pledges or gave an additional gift. Thanks to your generosity, we did not end up needing to cut staff hours. However, we did have to make some significant cuts to the church’s operations budget. We are unable to add a salary for our Community Minister to lead our Faith in Action Ministry. We are unable to provide salary increases for our staff for the 2nd year in a row. We cut funds for maintenance, communications, and security.

Longer term budget implications: Some of the cuts are not sustainable. We can forgo 1 year of maintenance on some items, but not 2 years. We will need to raise $20-$25k to call a settled minister. We will need to increase staff salaries and we are expecting healthcare insurance premium increases in 2019. We will need to offer a competitive salary and benefits for our next settled minister.

Maintaining a budget that is fair to our staff and sustains our mission is a part of our responsibility as members. I appreciate the opportunity to build something with other progressives that is bigger than myself and provides a meaningful spiritual home. Everyone has a different reason for pledging their Stewardship to our congregation. What is yours?

Do we still need additional funds? Yes! The Board has agreed we will add as many of these cuts back into the budget as we receive additional revenue. For those of you who are still considering pledging or increasing your pledge, it is not too late! One of our members asked me to pass along a couple of tips for retired pledgers. He said that if you make a qualified charitable distribution to OUUC directly from your IRA retirement account, you will not pay federal tax on the amount. His second tip is that members can pre-pay all or part of their 2018 pledges in 2017 which could help you itemize your taxes this year and positively impact your tax situation. Charitable donations may be less deductible in 2018 if the proposed tax law is passed. I’m not a tax or retirement expert, so you will need to determine whether these strategies are right for you.

I will be available in the Sanctuary this Sunday after both 1st and 2nd service to answer your budget questions and provide additional information. The budget will be sent out this Friday for your review, along with the announcement about the All Church meeting on Friday, December 15. It takes many people to sustain the church. I’d like to thank the Stewardship Committee under the leadership of Jeff Goltz and Christine Parke for all the work they have done leading the annual stewardship campaign. I’d also like to thank Mary Welsh and the Finance Committee for their assistance and Darlene Sarkela, our Administrator, for her help in developing the budget. Oh, and of course, you! My thanks to each and every one of you for sustaining our beloved community!

Wendy Tanner,

OUUC Treasurer