To: All Our Members and Friends
We are closing out a remarkable year as we look back at 2020 and look forward to 2021!
2020 in Review:
At our Annual Membership Meeting on Sunday, March 15, we amended the bylaws to allow for a three-member Board of Directors. That was also the last Sunday we were able to hold in-person services due to the Corona Virus pandemic. The Board managed to maintain the majority of business activities (i.e., cleaning and maintenance of the building, banking and bookkeeping, paying the bills, creating the weekly enewsletter, updating the website). We created a few recordings of lessons, music and meditations that we posted on the website.
We re-opened the church for in-person services on May 31, and over the next six Sundays, we conducted services with an average attendance of about a dozen people. During that period, we brought in two outside guest speakers, and David Peshlakai shared his musical talents with us each week. We invited more group participation after the lesson ended. We also began holding open ZOOM calls on Sunday evenings and inviting people to join those for a time of “Insights and Reflections.”
Although small, a “core group” attended services loyally. Many of our regular congregants were not ready to attend in-person services and the Board decided to re-close after the July 5 service and take some time to consider a new structure. The Sunday evening ZOOM calls continued, and a few more new faces appeared in that group (the core of which was the same as the core group who had been attending on Sunday mornings).
Starting on September 6, we held four informal outdoor services, with music by David Peshlakai, meditation and a kick-off mini-lesson led by various group members, followed by a group discussion. When we moved indoors, we put together a system to produce high quality audio recordings to post online, and to improve the quality of video recording and the ability to participate in the service through ZOOM.
On Sunday, October 11, we accepted and recognized five new voting members of the church, and then conducted a “Phoenix Rising” ritual during the service with each participant receiving a Phoenix medallion.
Average attendance was now down to about nine people on Sunday mornings. The “Insights and Reflections” ZOOM call switched to Wednesdays at 7:00PM (see website for details on joining this call—everyone is invited!)
David continued to come and share his music with us, and we shared leading the meditations and “kicking off” discussion time. We invited people to join us on ZOOM, but no one took advantage of that opportunity. The Board considered closing in November when the pandemic seemed to worsen again, but we held off on that decision until December 6, by which time most of the core group had already opted to attend via ZOOM rather than in person. We have been able to bring in David’s music via ZOOM, so he joins us from his home as well. So far, we haven’t made a decision as to when we will re-open the church for in-person Sunday services.
All the essential business operations of the church have continued through this uncertain time. We have managed to continue making repairs to the roof. We were able to take $4,000 out of our money market account in March to cover expenses. We were able arrange a three-month deferment of our monthly mortgage payment (~$575) during the summer, which gave us some relief. We have managed to conduct our services internally this fall and haven’t had the expense of paid speakers. About three member volunteers carry out the essential maintenance and cleaning functions, and Board members are responsible for office, banking, technological and online procedures. And we have lovingly maintained our tithing policy through all of this!
We see new ideas and initiatives among the new members, and they are excited about moving forward in new directions. We are also anticipating adding new Board members soon!
So, the question is: How do we sustain and support this enthusiasm as we continue to move through uncertain times—financially, collaboratively and spiritually?
Our income (via contributions) has gone down markedly this year, and circumstances have made it impossible to plan typical fund-raising events (partly due to social distancing guidelines and partly because our pool of volunteers is small). We continue to receive contributions online and via postal mail as well as in person, but income in 2020 has averaged about $1150.00 less per month than in 2019, while the basic monthly expenses have not changed much between 2020 and 2019 (other than spending less on outside speaker’s fees).
At this time, non-variable monthly expenses are approximately $1500 per month.
Monthly Fixed Expenses: (Apologies for the misalignment of numbers!)
Mortgage Payment Fifth Third Bank $574.84 Insurance Church Mutual $285.85 Internet & Phone Comcast $143.43 Sewer Napoleon Township $19.00 Website Build & HostingHomestead $26.99 Church Mgmt Service ICON-CMO $35.00 Online Donation ServiceVANCO $10.00 Enewsletter Service Constant Contact $19.00 Pianist/Musician David Peshlakai $240.00 Parking Lot Lights Consumers Energy $62.00 Miscellaneous Expenses $75.00 Total Fixed Expenses: $1,491.11
The variable expenses include Gas Heat & Electricity for the building. During 2020, we have ranged from a low monthly bill of $160.00 to a high of $840.00 (average was approximately $440.00 per month). The other variable is lawn care and snow plowing/salting—as low as $65.00 in a month this year to a high of $340.00 in a month (average was approximately $160.00 per month).
The average basic monthly expense to maintain the church building this year has been approximately $2,450.00 (which includes tithe payments). Barring any emergency maintenance or repair issues, we anticipate a similar monthly amount would cover basic expenses for 2021, although inviting a guest speaker twice a month would add $300 to that monthly expense base, bringing the total to $2,750.00 per month.
The average monthly income in 2020 through contributions has been approximately $1,850.00. (The comparable average per month in 2019 was slightly over $3,000.00.)
Projected Monthly Expenses:2021 (Apologies for the misalignment of numbers!) Monthly Fixed Expenses $1,500.00 Avg. Gas & Elect. $440.00 Avg. Lawn Care & Snow Removal $160.00 2 Speakers per Month. $300.00 Misc. $75.00
Projected Avg. Total Per Month in 2021 $2,750.00
Total Annual Base Expenses for 2021 $33,000.00
Avg. Monthly Contributions in 2020 $1,850.00
(Projected Avg. Expenses Per Month in 2021 $2,750.00)
Add'l Amt. needed per month in 2021 $900.00
Annual Add'l Amt Needed in 2021 $10,800.00
All staff positions in the church (aside from our musician) are volunteer and unpaid. And that brings us to our need for more volunteer support. We are looking for people who can help with:
1.Monitoring and maintaining the heating/cooling system 2.Overseeing the various water analysis tests and to meet Michigan state standards 3.Website maintenance and updating 4.Creating the weekly enewsletter 5.Bookkeeping/accounting 6.Cleaning and general maintenance of the building 7.General office/filing and organization 8.Facebook: posting and updating a FB page 9.Maintaining and repairing the roof 10.Technology in the sound room for audio recordings and ZOOM recordings 11.Participating on an exciting music team; singing with a choir; solo vocal and instrumental 12.Submitting and implementing ideas for classes, workshops, ZOOM topics, guest speakers 13.Fundraising ideas and plans 14.Bookstore and Lending Library supervision 15.Outreach, promotion, publicity—getting to be known in the community
We are dependent on your active support in all areas in order for Unity Church of Jackson to survive and thrive.
Financially, we intend to manifest an additional $10,800 annually/$900 monthly in order to keep and maintain the building and infrastructure.
Collaboratively, we intend to attract the necessary volunteers to create a healthy team environment to support the functions of the church.
Spiritually, we ask that you go within, and follow your inner guidance concerning your role in this church community and how you align with and support those intentions.
On Sunday, December 27, we will present a Town Meeting on ZOOM, immediately following the ZOOM virtual service that begins at 11:00am. We will present this information and more details then. Join us for the service and the meeting if you can, and voice your input and comments—or just listen! Details for joining the ZOOM meeting are on the website.
With Love and Light and Many Blessings of the Holiday Season!
Unity Church of Jackson Board of Directors