How fast things can happen on a weekend. The alarm went off at five a.m. on Saturday, and I feel like things are only just starting to slow down (that is only an illusion, I know...sort of the doppler effect of parish ministry).
Convention was brought out of recess after the morning liturgy at the Cathedral in Philly at 10 AM. We launched into the business at hand almost right away. First off was approval of the budget, well...the revised budget, really. After the diocesan finance committee got hold of the pledge commitments in November, it quickly became apparent that revenue streams from the parishes were not what many were counting on for 2007. That caused a revision of budget priorities with distinct impact on several important missional commitments. We increased the dip into the national church pledge by 137,000 dollars, increasing that cut to 237,000 total. The Canon to the Ordinary job was wiped out before it began, and several mission churches took deep hits in the monies granted by the diocese to support their annual budgets. Top that off with most areas experiencing zero growth and the contraction of the diocesan staff and I worry that we won't be able to get much done at the diocesan level in the coming year, at all.
Trinity did make its annual commitment, but the vestry is still discerning whether or not to pay those assessments, or to hold those monies in escrow until the bishop and standing committee effect changes in the current status of the conflict. We will decide our path of action on January 23rd at out monthly meeting and then move forward in communicating our decision to the parish and to the bishop. I want to make sure we have that discernment completed by then, so that we are able to talk about our consensus with the parish membership at Annual Meeting (Feb. 4th).
Top that off with a slew of pastoral crises and we are busy...oh, and add on an echo pledge campaign and the search for a full time clergy assistant.
My plate is not too full!
Good news, though, the year ended well for us from both a fiscal and missional point of view. The parish grew and programs new and old seem to be experiencing a warm sense of vitality. Touch wood, as well, it looks like we might finish the year with only a minimal deficit...if not with a balanced budget. (Fingers crossed and prayers ascending as the books are closed this week!)
The big challenge is to keep leadership fresh and refreshed.
Sunday was a great experience: we had three baptisms (with AWESOMELY well-behaved kids and a FULL house) and then top it off with an exquisite "Epiphanytide lessons and carols" that had people actually calling me later that day to thank the organist and choir for doing such a fabulous job.
I am counting my blessings and getting ready for tomorrow's eucharist celebrating William Laud.
Not too shabby.