It’s Halloween! As a parent of young children, it’s hard to ignore the fun and excitement that comes with this holiday. My kids, in particular, spend most of every day being imaginative, creating their own magical worlds, dressing up in whatever random capes and wings they can find in our costume box, and for this one, incredible day, everyone else also participates. For Halloween this year, for the first time ever, Eric and I were roped into a family costume. Honestly, I’ve loved it! Who wouldn’t want to be the Queen of Hearts?! But no matter how good my kids costumes are it's always relatively easy to see through it and know who is underneath.
Transparency is a word I’ve heard a lot in the last few weeks (shout out to Marta’s sermon a few weeks ago!) Transparency is really the opposite of costumes and dress up. It’s having an open book, with accessible information; it's about seeing who we really are, underneath the extra layers. As moderator, in my speeches, conversations, and reflections, I haven’t hidden the fact that times are changing in the church world. As a church, we’ve had a lot of conversations about stewardship and budgeting and all the difficulties we may (or hopefully may not) have to confront with our upcoming budget.
In the face of all of these things, I remain very hopeful. The stewardship campaign has been astoundingly successful – but a friendly reminder to anyone who hasn’t pledged, please do so! With the increased early participation in pledging, the Budget and Finance Committee has a much clearer picture going into the budgeting process. Their job will be more transparent, if you will. Boards and Committees are working to submit requests, meetings are being held to crunch numbers, and we will all be gearing up for the annual meeting after the New Year. During that meeting, as a congregation, we will discuss the financial situation of Plymouth for the year to come, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If you have not spent time on our website, you may not realize that there is an entire area dedicated to budget information (plymouthucc.org/budget). The Church financial picture is available to review at your leisure. We have wonderful volunteers and staff who have dedicated countless hours to putting this information together and making it easily accessible and transparent. Do you have more questions? As I tell my children, you can never ask too many questions! So, if you do have questions or want more information, please ask! If you want to discuss the budget or the budgeting process, we’re available. Most people abhor discussing finances and being asked for money, but as a thriving church community, it is imperative that we have these conversations. Transparency is a two-way street. It is also important we remember that we are in this together. The people volunteering their time to work on the budget, the church administrator (Phil Braudaway-Bauman) responding to emails on his nights and weekends, those serving as board chairs and on committees - these people all care enormously about this Church. We all care and together we can continue to be a shining light in our community. So when you have questions, I’m always happy to answer them or connect you with someone who can. I’ll be the person in the heart crown, so it won’t be hard to find me.
Heather Siegel, Moderator