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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Church Finances

Church Finances

October 7, 2014

(Excerpts from the Parish Profiles of three churches seeking new rectors, as
published on the website of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.)

Trinity Episcopal Church, Marshfield, MA

OUR FINANCES, like the finances of many churches today continue to present
challenges to our community. Although our 2013 budgeted expenses exceeded our
actual income, we ended the year better than expected. Our actual income in 2013
was $215,335 with expenses of $226,717. The 2013 income included a $36,944
draw from our endowment funds. This draw from our endowment fund is just $9,000
over the recommended 4% draw. Our church is fortunate enough to have two
endowment funds, worth a combined total of $669,161 at the end of 2013 that gives
us the ability to present a balanced budget. In 2013, income from pledges
accounted for 43% of our revenue with additional plate offerings accounting for an
additional 5%. 

Our budgeted expenses for 2014 presents essentially the same picture with
expected expenditures of $223,377 and our income continues to reflect an expected
draw from our endowments, now targeted to be $73,062. Our pledges for this year
represent 39% of our budget and other Sunday collections account for
approximately 4% of the budget. As of May 30, 2014, our endowment funds totaled
$691,863, which included a withdrawal this year of $34,795. As a congregation we
know that it is not prudent to continue to rely upon our endowments to balance our
operating budget. It is our hope that our new ¾ time Rector is willing and able to
motivate and energize our congregation in a new way which will lead to greater
visibly and involvement in the community and create an environment in which
people will want to join our Trinity family. We, as a congregation, are making every
effort to balance our finances and minimize our draw from our endowment.
(Trinity Church attendance has declined from about 75 to 60 persons.)

St. John's Church, Westwood, MA

Through the support of our congregation and partnership with our diocese, 
St. John’s will thrive for the next 50 years and beyond. St. John’s Vestry has 
managed its budget, successfully raised additional funds through the Together 
Now Capital Campaign and sustained its annual Stewardship Campaign to meet 
capital and operational commitments.

(St. John’s has had a Priest-in-Charge for the past three years.  Plate and pledge 
collection has declined from $180K to $150K in that time.  Average Sunday 
attendance is holding at about 70.)

The annual Stewardship drive funds the operating needs of the church each fiscal 
year. Over the last 3 years, parishioner contributions have been steady but the total 
contributions have been flat, year over year. Contributions from long time families 
and individuals represent the majority of the contributors, so greater contributions 
from newer parishioners and families will be needed. An additional source of income 
is rental of the nursery school wing to St. John’s Nursery School. The rectory is 
currently being rented to a parishioner but is an option for the living quarters of our 
new Rector. 

St. James Church, Amesbury, MA

St. James has consistently operated in the black, with the recent exception of 2011, a
year in which St. James spent nearly $100,000 on building improvements, some of
which was spent in advance of insurance reimbursements received in 2012. With an
annual operating budget of ~$145,000, St. James is well capitalized with over
$100,000 of investment assets as a backstop to the current year’s working capital.
That said, St. James has been the beneficiary of a single large annual gift for several
years. This generous gift has represented 30% to 40% of our annual income for nearly
a decade, and replacing this income with the pledges of new members is the number
one priority of our vestry and stewardship committee.

In 2006, when the new Priest-in-Charge was assigned to St. James, the finances of the
church were in disarray. Having had one rector in place for 20 years, standards and
procedures had become lax. Our Priest-in-Charge put in place a series of best
practices for bookkeeping, audit, and financial oversight that have been integrated into
the daily operations of the parish, and significantly improved the transparency of St.
James’ finances.

The decision of St. James to fund the increased cost of a new “3/4 time” rector is
calculated to support the growth required to achieve a growth in membership and
thereby achieve financial self-sufficiency by 2018. The vestry of St. James has
approved the proposed deficit spending, to be financed in the near term with savings,
and in the long term with increased pledge revenues.
(St. James has declined in attendance from 100 to 70 persons.)

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