Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Standing secure…

Many of you know that Tabitha and I have begun looking at homes to buy; our first ever such purchase (Yeah!) (Yikes!). Which means we’re now occasionally taking walks through other people’s homes. There are fun parts- kitchens, living rooms, backyards; moderately-fun parts- bathrooms, closets, pantries. Then, there’s the basement. Basements (in the price range we’re considering!) don’t often have ‘fun things’ to see. Lots of concrete. Maybe an old washer and dryer. But mostly, these basements weren’t designed for, say, entertaining guests.

Still, we go to the basement in every house we look at. Why? You know- The Foundation. The first home we entered, the basement floor was cracking and brittle. Much of the house, otherwise, looked wonderful, but it’s like an underground lake was prepping to explode into the home at any moment. We won’t be making an offer. We saw other houses with foundation questions, some consequential, others less so. I like certain things about house shopping much more than checking the foundation, yet I know that’s what makes a building worth occupying. Or not.

Ready for the metaphor shift? Say it with me- “So it is with churches.” Our ultimate foundation, of course, is as secure as can be imagined. Christ has risen! But for every church, the unique elements that build their edifices of faith must hold together, or the entire structure could crumble. And by that, I don’t simply mean the building where they worship. I mean the stuff supporting the work and worship they do- stewardship, hospitality, administration. And in recent months, the Board (one important brick in our foundation) made changes y’all will want to know about, and perhaps weigh in on.

For one, we decided to move ahead on the Community Garden Project and with our church now the overall manager. Yes, some nearby neighbors raised concerns, and their input helped. But the overall goal of helping 40ish families grow their own food and flowers will be pursued. I pray we’ll enjoy this outreach project, build new relationships and feel proud about caring for God’s earth and others!

Second, the Board adopted two policies in recent months that focus our administration. The first was a Bus Usage Policy, addressing many issues related to this new ministry and ensuring we’re as safe as possible. The second was a Memorial Funds Usage Policy, deciding how to manage money donated in memory of loved ones who’ve passed. To make certain we’re using these gifts as intended, we decided, A) To establish an “Internal Line of Credit,” i.e. a safety net in the event we’re ever again in dire financial straits. Prayerfully, that money will never be used, but we thought it good stewardship of memorials to set aside emergency cash for very rainy days. And B) Anything above that can (and should) be used on capital improvements for the church’s ministry. This can mean hymnals, signs, new boilers or instruments. And, in the event we’re considering a non-emergency purchase above $5,000, the Board decided to ask the congregation to vote yeah or nay. Some things need general support to be effective additions to our life together. If you want to read these policies, I’ll get you a copy.

Lastly, the Board is also recommending that, at the June 26 Annual Meeting, the church modify its by-laws to change Board size and make-up. The recommended new language is in this newsletter. But here’s the cliff notes: We want to reduce Board size to six (2 new directors/year) and invest the President and Vice President with voting authority. This will make it easier to schedule meetings, have substantive conversations and vote on important issues. Further, with fewer Board Members, our collective energies can be better directed toward other ministry!

Like I said, it’s like walking through a basement- not real exciting, but vital. Indeed, that the Board takes time not simply to listen to reports, but to reflect seriously on church policy, i.e. the beams and foundation stones that make our church unique, should make us feel good. That work isn’t always amusing, but it provides vision and security that, with God’s help, will help us thrive over the long-term.

Grace and Peace,

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