On Sunday, October 26, approximately 40 members of St. Luke’s met for the most recent “St. Luke’s at a Crossroads” conversation. The goals of this meeting were to present the 2015 budget, articulate the budget shortfall, ensure that members understand the urgency and reality of St. Lukes’ financial status, and discuss options for long-term financial sustainability. (copies of the budget and associated documents are available in the narthex for those who were not able to attend).
As many of you know, with the ELCA financial support coming to an end in 2015, St. Luke’s is not financially viable beyond July 2015. To make plans for the longevity of our ministries, members spent time in small group and large group conversation to consider a number of options to sustain St. Luke’s into the future. Since our largest financial liabilities are our building and our staff (primarily our pastor), we looked at the following scenarios:
- Continue with a full time pastor and continue to use the building as is.
- Lower staffing levels (e.g., going to a half time pastor) and continuing to use the building as is.
- Continue with a full time pastor and explore options for selling the building and using alternative spaces.
Those in attendance spent two hours in thoughtful discussion about who St. Luke’s is as a community, whether we have done enough to work toward financial sustainability, and what we would lose or gain under each scenario. The conversation built on our summer listening campaign, which focused on St. Lukes’ values and ministries, and subsequent fall meetings that focused on our community and our financial status.
Before leaving the meeting, participants were asked to provide feedback and direction to the council.
- 35 of the 39 people who submitted feedback indicated that “council should explore options for selling the building and alternative spaces.”
- 2 people expressed concerns about the options that were discussed and did not recommend council take any concrete action
- 2 people indicated that council should explore options for lowering staffing levels and explore options related to the building.
Members also shared written questions and concerns about the process and any decisions that might be made. These comments indicated that, as a community,
- we want to be sure we are exploring all options and combination of scenarios
- we need to think about how our decisions match our values, especially if we sell the building to a developer
- many people are open to sharing space if needed
- we must be transparent and communicative about finances and any decisions that are made
- we should consider voting on our next steps very soon
- among many other insights
At this time, the Church Council will explore options for selling the building and finding alternative space as directed by the group on Sunday. The Council will work with the “Crossroads” team to ensure that we continue to have clear and transparent communication about what we are learning and hearing. Please seek out a member of either group at any time to discuss your questions and concerns.
It is likely that we will vote to take concrete action at the congregational meeting in January. Information about any votes that will be taken will be communicated clearly via mail and email to all members.
Sunday’s discussion was meaningful, fruitful, and not without emotion or challenges. There is much to discuss and explore that will require commitment across the congregation. We trust that God will be present with us as we enter this next chapter.
Justine Bandstra, Katie Baxter, Jossy Gelpi, Judi Keippel, Joe Scarry, Jessica Schimpff, Scott Shippy, Noel Spain
Listening Campaign/ Crossroads Team
Katie Baxter, Rachel Bickel, Jonathan Burch, Kerry Jenkins, Cynthia Stengel, Cathy Swanson