Members and Friends:
This past Sunday, November 30th, 2008, marked the beginning of the Penitential Season of Advent for this year of 2008. This year, now fleeting past, has been a monumental time of elections, and,
yes, financial upheavals the likes of which have not been seen since the 1930's. As far as the church is concerned, the year started out with a wave of optimism as our new Bishop, Sean Rowe, started the first full year of his Episcopacy in Erie, Pennsylvania. The new Bishop almost completely
reorganized the administration of the diocese from the top down. New approaches, new policies, and a just plain "new look" have been the order for the year.
As the year wore on, however, downturns in the stock market and other fiduciaries began to adversly affect the many churches of the diocese, having dedicated funds of one sort or another. This has
been true of The Memorial Church of Our Father. Two marginal churches in the Eastern part of the NW PA Diocese were forced to close. Several other ones will face difficult decisions in the upcoming year. The traditional method of financing our own church: salaries, utilities, expenses to the larger church (diocese, national church, etc.), has been relying on the distribution from the endowment fund, along with minimal offerings from our congregation.
During the month of November 2008, I asked our treasurer, Chris Fleming and assistant-treasurer, Bill Master, to prepare a budget for 2009. I then scheduled an after service meeting for Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 for the budget presentaion for discussion and comment. I advertised this meeting in the bulletin and by parish letter. Only eleven members, including my family of three, attended this meeting. Despite the low turnout, those of us who were there had a spirited and deep discussion of the situation of our church. On Monday following the meeting, I shared the conclusions with Canon Martha Ishman in Erie, our Bishop's Assistant for Congregational Development. Canon Ishman has expressed her willingness to come to our church in the new year
for a series of meetings to help determine the future of our church and my ministry in the church. Further information will be provided about this as it becomes available. Next Sunday, December 7th, 2008, we have designated as LOYALTY SUNDAY. We are asking our members at that time, by way of a confidential signed card, to indicate to our treasurer what they anticipate what their future support will be in the upcoming year. How, we might ask, can our treasurer prepare and administer a budget without knowing what the anticipated income might be???
God bless one and all as we approach Christmas and a the New Year of 2009.
Yours in Christ,
Ed Lowrey, Vicar