Fall 2020 Virtual Business Meeting Debrief

Published October 27, 2020 by SMBC

We held our church's Quarterly Business Meeting via Zoom on Sunday, October 25 and in addition to voting to put in place our slate of committee members and church officers for 2021, we received updates from the Re-opening Task Force and the Finance Committee, as well as from our pastoral team regarding our small groups and the church in general. During the meeting, it was mentioned more than once how remarkable it is that the business of the church continues despite our distance from one another. Sometimes we think of God working only in spiritual realms or in organic ways, but the Holy Spirit works in so many different manners, including through modern technologies which have become yet another powerful means through which God's redemptive work in the world is accomplished. We saw this happening last Sunday as we gathered to do the church's business.

In conjunction with God's guidance, some of this continued work moves into a new phase as we advance into November and December at South Main. The Stewardship Committee produced a series of informative and compelling video updates during our recent stewardship emphasis. It was reported to the church, through Stewardship Committee chair Mark Gribble that our church is almost precisely where it was last year entering into the last two months of the budget year in terms of giving. While this is remarkable as we consider all that has happened in 2020 and illustrates the faithfulness of the congregation, we still have a challenge ahead as we try to accomplish the work we set out to do in January. Mark also reported that our effort to retire our church's debt has reached the half-way mark which is again a notable accomplishment. However, with respect to both the budget and the debt retirement, we have a considerable way to go. Please take a look at your giving at this juncture, and continue to generously give to the budget, and to our effort to begin the new year in 2021 debt free.

The Finance Committee shared that through September 30, we had income of 2,534,789, and expenses of 3,002,424, for a YTD deficit of $467,634. Our income is about 77% of what we budgeted, and in a typical year, we'd expect that number to be around 80%, so we're grateful for the church's consistency in giving during these long months of being apart. Our expenses are at 91% of budget year to date, so we're about 9% down in our expenses, mostly due to our operating costs being reduced during the pandemic. The Finance Committee knows this is a challenging year and is monitoring our expenses closely. We've begun to see the effect of the reductions in staffing to align with our programming that were announced in July and will see a reduction in budget because of that between now and the end of the year. In addition, we will continue to see some reduction in operating costs by year-end. The Committee is tracking all of that and will likely adjust the "Christmas Tree" number to reflect what we will actually spend, rather than what we originally budgeted.

The COVID-19 Advisory Task Force has continued its good work of moving the church through a phased reopening as safely as possible. The guidelines they developed have helped the staff implement plans for reopening different areas of ministry, and the staff has worked within those guidelines as we have moved into Phase 4. The phased reopening plan and detailed safety protocols can be found here. The church moved to Phase 4 on October 11 and resumed in-person worship with limited capacity. From the first few weeks of in-person worship, we've learned a few things - everyone in attendance was excited to be back, the RSVP system is working and allows the church to communicate easily with those in attendance, seating and dismissal has worked quickly and smoothly, and all in attendance have complied with the safety protocols. The Task Force will continue to monitor the data for Harris County, and will advise the staff if a change in the phases is necessary.