When you last heard from us (Feb 2020) we thought we were entering a phase of relative calm. Looking back it seems like such a gentle, soft-focus time. We had forged our own unique pathway as a new church, and we were proud of our progress. Then in March we, along with every other church, were yanked to a brand-new starting line that no one had anticipated. The path in front of us that had looked pretty clear was now filled with challenges.
But several months into the global pandemic we can report that as a church we continue to thrive. Thus far our members have been protected from COVID-19, though nearly all of us know someone who has become ill. Thus far almost all of us have kept our jobs, though for some, income is reduced and ‘underemployment’ is an issue. Maybe because we were so new, and our staff are so creative, we were able to adapt quickly and continue our worship. Our attendance has remained steady, and so has our congregation’s giving. We’ve provided weekly gifts to a variety of local and global organizations that are serving the poor; those most affected by the pandemic. As a Vestry, we are deeply grateful for God’s mercy to us in all of these ways.
So now, down to business: We met as a Vestry via Zoom on 3/25, 4/20, 5/22, and 6/18. As we look back over those meetings, there were not many official decisions taken. But there was a lot of discussion, centering around a couple of themes: sustaining our community, how to safely re-gather, and how to wisely steward our financial surplus. This surplus exists because our congregation’s generous giving has supported our operations, so that we have not had to significantly draw down the start-up funds we received when we launched. We hope you will stop for a moment and ponder this. 1 Samuel 7:12 comes to mind: “Samuel took a stone and set it up…and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’” Thanks be to God for calling us together and sustaining us to this point.
At our June meeting, we approved a budget for FY21, which starts September 1. The budget includes a deficit--meaning that we intend to draw down our surplus, believing that the funds given to us should be used for ministry. A key feature of the budget is that we will increase our outreach giving (to causes outside IAC) from 10% to 15%. Another feature is that we will not be asking our staff to continue raising outside support--we will fully support them through the budget. The Vestry is grateful to the Finance committee for their careful, insightful analysis and for reflecting the ethos of the congregation as they developed this budget. If you’d like to discuss more of the details, please contact one of us.
We do hope we will see you all in person sometime soon, even if at a safe distance. Until then please consider joining us for 15-minute noonday prayer on Tuesdays and Thursdays-and if we don’t see you there, please do continue to pray earnestly for an end to the pandemic, for justice to prevail in our country, and that the church will, individually and corporately, embody the Gospel of Jesus to a hurting world.
Eric and Nancy, IAC Wardens