Thursday, October 26, 2023
Beloved HUMC Community,
Last year about this time we held a State of the Church meeting to share about how we were having a difficult year in terms of our finances at HUMC. We had some expenditures that caught us by surprise, leading to a nearly $80,000 projected deficit, and you responded. You helped to close that significant gap by the end of the year.
As a result we pushed our budget planning until the beginning of this year, when our members and regular attendees received Estimate of Giving cards and returned them back. Your generous planning and giving have astounded us. You have increased your giving from 2022 to 2023 by nearly 10%! Thank you!
2023 has been an amazing year in the life of Hilliard UMC
This year we have welcomed some local guests to utilize our studio space over in Warehouse 839 (the former Tae Kwon Do space), generating some revenue.
Speaking of Warehouse 839, we returned to worship in that space about a year ago, gathering once and then twice a month, and last Sunday we celebrated the relaunch of weekly worship in our non-traditional worship space.
We saw some big changes in our music staff this year. In January we bid farewell to our longtime Accompanist, Debbie Detrick, who retired after decades of faithful service. In August we welcomed Tony Hagood as our new Accompanist, who plays for the 9am and 10:30am services. We also hired our new Director of Contemporary Worship, Jeff Rone, who works with Jody Hepp to lead music at 10:30am and leads the Warehouse 839 band at 11:15am.
Last week we announced that the Hilliard Food Pantry will be utilizing the studio space to serve those with food insecurity while their space is being rebuilt following the summer fire.
Increased Giving, Smaller Deficit
We celebrate that through the end of September we have seen a nearly 9% increase in regular contributions to the operating fund. We celebrate that increased building usage by outside groups has also yielded nearly $10,000 in income for our operating fund so far this year.
While our expenses are down over 2023 through the end of September, however, including the additional music staff salaries and a significant roof rainwater drainage project for the Warehouse 839 building, we find ourselves at the end of September with about a $20,000 deficit in our operations budget.
Some of this can be explained by the fact that, due to some unfortunate circumstances, we have had a double salary for our Finance Administrator. We had unexpected turnover, and our outgoing administrator Sheri Meier had to train not one but two people between April and September, leading to overages in budgeted salaries.
I don’t say any of this in panic or to cause a stir, but to say that without your generous giving, we would find ourselves in a deeper deficit.
We also know that November and December tend to bring increases in end-of-year giving.
Praying and Trusting
I am praying and trusting that as we go where God leads that God will continue to provide, because we are seeking to be the hands and feet of Christ in this community and beyond.
Thank you to those who give regularly. Thank you to those who give when and as you can. Thank you to those who may have been thinking of giving and have not yet but may be feeling led to contribute in this season.
Prayerfully Estimate Your 2024 Giving
Many of you who are constituents and members of HUMC have begun to receive this year’s stewardship letter, written by our incoming finance chair, Scott Merillat, along with an estimate of giving card for 2024, which you can also fill out online here, confidentially. We’ve included that letter below.
We are asking that you prayerfully consider how God is leading you to give in support of HUMC….
…to help us continue to provide top notch music in all three worship services…
…to help us continue to offer life-changing and enriching Godly Play and Children’s Ministry for our children…
…to provide God-encountering and life-changing opportunities for our youth and adults…
…to provide welcome spaces for preschoolers and their families…
…to provide free meals for those in need at our Wednesday Community Supper and weekend food packs for some of the most vulnerable children in our district…
…to support for our fabulous staff, who lead to make all of this possible…
…and so much more!!
Pray, ask God to lead, and return your card to worship over the next two Sundays. We will bless these gifts in worship on Sunday, November 5, at all three services of worship. We will pray over each commitment you make to help us in the guidance of our ministry for 2024.
With much gratitude,
from incoming Finance Chair
I’m grateful for the opportunity to write our annual stewardship letter. First, I need to say thank you! I’m grateful that you are part of our God Loves You No Matter What community. Simply being here, you are the supportive and inclusive space in which we grow in our faith.
I’m Scott (he/him), and I’d like to share our HUMC story: After my son attended UMC Camp Otterbein in 2021, the UMC administrative staff referred us to Pastor April. When I drove my son to school, we read the HUMC slogan and then started attending online. I joined HUMC in early 2022 because HUMC is an inclusive community. We attend the 10:30 family service in person. We also attend virtually when we visit grandparents or when my prayers for rest are granted. My son is active in the youth activities. He was a youth volunteer for VBS, and he attended Lakeside Camp the past two years. Many of you will recall the beautiful May Sunday when Pastor April baptized and confirmed him with four other confirmands. This community is a blessing!
This past May, my son and I participated in the Weekend of Healing with Pastor Jenny Smith. The discussions included many COVID-19 pandemic experiences, which underscored numerous life challenges over the past three years. Our HUMC community has met virtual technology and financial challenges, which had a cascading impact on members, ministries, and giving. Today, we are becoming financially stable and growing our community. The practice of stewardship and servant leadership is embodied by this congregation, and we continue to thrive.
As we approach the final quarter of 2023, this is also an update on the 2023 stewardship letter from our current chair of finance, Will Thorsberg. In that letter, Will offered three finance goals for 2023: increased giving, growing our faith community, and innovative & creative ways to generate sustainable income. (You’ll find that letter here under the heading Invest in Hilliard UMC.)
- We have seen increased giving! Our budget has begun to stabilize because of your generous giving. As of August 31, giving to HUMC has increased 8.4% over this time last year. This progress reflects an increase in family giving and in the number of households giving. It is important to note that while the budget stabilizes, we continue to have an overall projected budgetary deficit for 2023.
- We celebrate our growing faith community! We now have three worship services averaging nearly 175 in-person and virtual worshippers each week: Traditional at 9am, Family at 10:30am, and beginning weekly October 22, Warehouse 389 worship at 11:15am. Our new Accompanist Tony Hagood and new Director of Contemporary Worship Jeff Rone have blessed our community. Amen!
- The 501(c)(3) nonprofit efforts are taking shape. The leadership plans to launch in mid-2024. This will expand our ability to support the local community in new ways and provide relief to the operations budget for mission and outreach.
As we approach 2024, the finance committee is requesting an Estimate of Giving card from individuals and families for 2024. We request that you prayerfully complete and return your 2024 Estimate of Giving on or before Sunday, November 5 (an update from the letter that was mailed), when we will pray over your proposed commitments and ask God to bless each estimated gift. (If you would like to fill out a paper copy but didn’t receive one in the mail, you can pick one up at church on Sunday.)
These estimates will then be used in the 2024 budget planning process, as greater than 60% of our budget is based on them. Please remember these estimates are just that, what we believe God is calling us to generously offer to HUMC.
They can always be modified if your circumstances change. Earlier this year I was unemployed and facing financial instability, and I adjusted my giving to a safer monthly amount given my change in income. In the spring of 2023, I was employed and increased my recurring giving. I found myself upset by companies that monetize every second of my time and attention, even at a stoplight! So, I doubled down and increased my support for HUMC and the community that supports my family’s wellbeing.
This summer, Pastor Jon asked and, after a time of prayer and reflection, I have accepted the role to serve as chair of the finance team for 2024. In the coming year we will continue to examine efficiencies and ways to reduce costs and increase flexibility.
The finance team foresees our 2023 goals will continue into 2024. In 2024, however, our financial stewardship priorities will also include:
- Align 2024 budget expenses more closely with annual giving estimates.
- Share testimonials across all ministries to reflect our core mission.
- Create, review, and/or update finance policies, procedures, and accounting methods to reflect the current UMC recommended guidelines.
Are you aware that HUMC supports more than 30 ministries? So much good is happening through HUMC because of your generosity.
Because of you, my family has been able to grow in the endless love of God. There is no other place that enriches our spirit. Thank you for supporting our community, where we can grow together in the love of God.
Grace & peace,
Finance Committee Member