Spring, like Sandburg’s fog, ‘comes in on little cat feet.’ It brings longer, warmer days. This year Easter sneaked in suddenly, less than 48 hours after the vernal equinox – it hasn’t been that early since 1913, and won’t be as early again until the year 2228.
Easter came too soon for the three thousand daffodils the Coleman’s planted in memory of their sons, Keith and Scott, victims of 9/11, and all the others whose lives were lost that day. The sensible green plants will flower in their own time, moving cautiously out of the ground, taking the temperature before they risk emerging from safe winter storage.
Spring is also the time when folks charged with our congregation’s financial health begin to think about next year’s budget. Our current fiscal year ends on June 30 and they must make a balanced budget, based on our pledges.
This year’s canvass chair, Bart Stuck, prefers to call it ‘annual giving.’ Bart is a matter-of-fact type guy. Instead of a dollar amount, he and his committee have established a goal – 100% participation, that everyone give their ‘fair share.’ We need to raise nearly a million dollars in promises to give over the course of the coming fiscal year – pledges that begin on July 1.
Heating, electricity costs are up, of course. But the biggest-by-far share of the budget goes for staff salaries and benefits – including the Senior Minister (yours truly) and Margie Allen, Associate Minister, Ed Thompson, Minister of Music. Our Community Minister, Debra Haffner, draws no salary, but contributes a lot to the life and work of the congregation.
Salaries for our Religious Education program include Perry Montrose, Director of R.E. and Jamie Forbes, Director of Youth Outreach and Jason Kiska, Youth Program Director. The office staff includes John Carroll, our full time Church Administrator, and Jan Braunle, Administrative Associate, part time.
David Vita is our energetic Director of Social Justice, and Bobby Santiago, our indomitable sexton. Much of the congregation’s work is done by volunteers, but Perry Montrose should have a part-time administrative assistant to keep up with the details – registration records and attendance lists – the details for about 350 children who are involved in the program.
We all know that no one is indispensable, but one of our tasks in life is to make ourselves irreplaceable. The Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno put it well: “Our greatest endeavor must be to make ourselves irreplaceable; no one else can fill the gap that will be left when we die. All of us, each one of us, can and ought to give as much of himself as he possibly can – nay, to give more than he can, to exceed himself, to go beyond himself, to make himself irreplaceable.”
For the past few weeks we’ve heard members of the congregation tell us why they give – they haven’t told us how much to give, and no one will tell you, precisely. John Hooper said that he and Gail ‘give until it feels good – not until it hurts, but until it feels right.’
Now it’s my turn to ask you to give your fair share, to assure success not only in terms of dollar amounts, but to reach the goal of 100% of the members and friends making a fair-share pledge. I hope you will do the math and decide to make a pledge that makes you feel good. I have.