I clearly remember two abrupt religious conversions in my life. The first, when I was 20 years old, was a profound and barely explainable encounter with the love of Christ that put me on a course to be baptized in the Episcopal Church. The second, fifteen years later, was in a ballroom in a hotel basement in Indianapolis. Walter Brueggemann, the prolific Old Testament scholar, was speaking to a conference of the Episcopal Network for Stewardship on the third chapter of Malachi and the importance of the tithe.
In Part I of this article I shared that the financial well-being of the parish is one of the most important fiduciary responsibilities of the Vestry. Therefore, in order to understand the finances of the parish, financial reports need to be organized and presented in a way that is clear and easy to read. The first part of this article reviewed the Income and Expense Report, first looking at Sources of Operating Income. In Part II we will continue that by discussing Grouping Operating Expenses. Then we will discuss the Non-operating Income and Expense Reports, as well as the Four Important Questions Vestry Members Should Ask. In addition, you may wish to view the ECF webinar entitled “Fearless Finances”.
By Jerry Keucher
Vestries are the fiduciaries of the parish corporation. Whatever word we use — fiduciaries, stewards, trustees — we mean the ones responsible for the good management of something that doesn’t belong to them. The parish has been put into the hands of the current vestry, and the current vestry is responsible for it. Vestries discharge their fiduciary responsibilities by trying to make sure that they hand on to their successors a parish that is stronger and more viable than it was when they took office.
The financial well-being of the parish is one of the most important fiduciary responsibilities of the vestry. No vestry can fulfill its responsibility in this area without regular monthly financial reports. The report the vestry should receive every month is a statement of income and expenses-- that is, what money came in from what source, and what it was spent on.
Many vestry members do not have a financial background and may feel intimidated by a discussion of numbers. If that describes you, this article is intended to give you a basic grasp of the concepts, which are not difficult. If you find the financial reports you receive at vestry meetings mystifying, it might be because the reports are not organized and presented in a way that facilitates understanding. The purpose of the accompanying spreadsheet is to give your Treasurer a format for a financial report that is easily understood. In addition, you may wish to view the ECF webinar entitled “Fearless Finances” held on October 2016 that discussed the topic of this article.
The Rev’d Erin Hougland, Pathways Deacon
The word “stewardship” has become associated almost entirely with money and fundraising in church culture. Unfortunately, we have burdened this word with money-talk and we have become so routine in doing this that we even have a set time in the calendar year when we say the word “stewardship”. Usually, it happens in the fall. Growing up, I remember my dad always preparing sermons on stewardship in the month of September. September would roll around and my dad would be grumpy. “I don’t like writing sermons in September. I hate asking people for money,” he would say.
A Guide to Help Clergy Discuss Compensation and Church Finances
By the Rev. Allen D. Rutherford, Chair
Congregational and Community Life Committee of the Diocese of Indianapolis
Extensive research has documented that Episcopalians would much rather talk about sex than have a transparent and informed conversation about clergy compensation within their congregations! The following series of questions is designed to facilitate and demystify how clergy are compensated.
Many of these questions and much of this information were born out of a conversation Allen had with his vestry following the 2016 Spring Clergy Conference and the launch of the Pathways to Vitality Initiative. It was his effort to create a healthy dialogue — and it worked!
By Erin Weber-Johnson
1.) Treat fundraising as a means to an end instead of a ministry
“Imagine the ministry we can do once we’ve received these funds!” exclaimed an excited fundraising volunteer a couple months ago. YES! I love dreaming of what is possible together and keeping a parish’s collective eyes on a common goal. And yet, when we fixate on the goal alone, we are tempted to miss an important point: the process of fundraising is itself a powerful and life-giving ministry.
The Rev. Erin Hougland, Pathways to Vitality Deacon
Here we are, in the first month of the launch of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis’ Pathways to Vitality Pilot Parishes Program! Shew...yes, it’s a mouth full! I’ve been as busy as my job assignment sounds. Many of you want to know and have been asking, “So, what exactly are you going to be doing Erin?” Good question everyone! In all honesty, it is actually the question we have all been holding: What exactly is this work going to look like?
As I have been moving through these few weeks and having conversations with the Pathways Steering Committee, Pathways leadership and the rectors of the Pilot Parishes program, I have come to some initial ideas about the work that I will be doing.
Learning about finances can take a similar journey. If we allow ourselves to be informed by helpful teachers, we can learn the many ways finances can be seen and managed in healthy ways, without fear of ourselves being bitten or poisoned by money and its manifestations. We can start to live with a greater sense of curiosity and even wonder when we begin to see how money is part of our spiritual lives, one of many resources we can offer to God in order to open ourselves more fully to God’s grace and to change the world for the better.
So while balancing a checkbook and other financial tasks can feel like opening a box of spiders, doing them well and with proper knowledge frees us to better understand how our lives function, how day to day living happens through our finances. And then, we are freed by this understanding to better be able to share with others what God has given us, so that they too may be freed to love God and our neighbor all the more deeply.
The Rev. Canon Bruce W. Gray
Canon to the Ordinary
Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis