“We live beyond our means.” That’s what I said at the annual meeting. It was the thread that ran throughout the meeting and the theme of everything I talked about.
Are those words about excess and abundance or are they about lack and deficiency? Yes, yes they are. It’s both at the same time.
On the one hand, we spend more money than we receive. We live beyond our means, and have done so for many years. We finished 2019 with a deficit (as we have for several years) and we are projecting a deficit for 2020. This year, however, the vestry began working toward achieving a balanced budget over the next few years. This was neither easy nor painless work. It meant cutting outreach, some salaries, supply clergy when I am away, parish programs, and allocating more expenses to the school. I commend the vestry for its courage, honesty, and foresight.
Our spending is neither excessive nor reckless. We addressed the deficit by cutting expenses. That did not and will not fix the problem. The issue isn’t expenses. It’s income, giving. We may have to further reduce our costs, but this will surely come at the expense of mission, ministry, and people.
On the other hand, we live beyond our means in terms of what do, the breadth of our community engagement, our participation at the diocesan level, and the commitment of vestry and leaders. We do so much more than what is usually done by or expected from a parish our size. I’m talking about our outreach – the Uvalde Food Pantry, Philip’s Closet, Open Table, Lamplighters, Team Uvalde, our response to the migrants and Border Patrol this past summer. We are a public face of Christ and are often described as “the church that helps people.”
Your vestry continues to lead, love, and support St. Philip’s beyond our means. Charlie Downing (Senior Warden), Camile DuBose (Junior Warden), and Kelley Kimble completed their term this year. Please thank them. While they are no longer on the vestry they are continuing members of the Finance Committee. And look who are new vestry members are. Mike Fitzpatrick, Sharon Haag, and Jennifer Williams were each elected to a three year term.
Here’s what else living beyond means looks like. It looks like lots of children in church, young families, and guests and new members. It looks like a technologically savvy church that live-streams the liturgy and connects with people who don’t even live in Texas. But they respond with e-mails, comments, and donations. They are our beyond-the-walls-parishioners. It looks like a vestry and an Invite Welcome Connect team that wants St. Philip’s to be present and recognizable in the world through unique branding, logos, and symbols so that when people see our logo and symbols they will know who we are and what we are about. A new website should be complete in about a month. In the meantime watch Facebook for new marks and logos.
Yes, we spend more money than we receive. And we must get our budget in order. We cannot continue deficit budgeting. But I hope we never stop living beyond our means. That’s the way of Jesus. Jesus calls us to live beyond our means – to be, do, and give more than we think we can.
Our namesake understood this. Take a look at John 6:1-14.