Upcoming Special Congregational Meetings for Upper Sackville United Church (April 27 @ 4PM) and Sackville United Church (May 2 @ 12PM)

The Sackville Pastoral Charge Council has called meetings for each of the congregations to consider a proposal that would see revisions being made to the terms of the pastoral relationship and budget that reflects these revisions.

You can find the three page proposal and budget here.

The congregation of Upper Sackville United Church is called to meet on Tuesday April 27th at 4PM at Upper Sackville United Church to consider a proposal from the Pastoral Charge Council. If you are unable to participate in-person you may participate via Zoom by following this link. This meeting will be convened by a representative of Fundy St. Lawrence Dawning Water’s Regional Council.

The congregational of Sackville United Church is called to meet on Sunday May 2nd at 12PM at Sackville United Church to consider a proposal from the Sackville Pastoral Charge Council. If you are unable to participate in-person you may participate via Zoom by following this link. This meeting will be convened by a representative of Fundy St. Lawrence Dawning Water’s Regional Council.

At this meeting the congregation will also be asked to approve the investment policy presented at the 2021 Annual meeting in March.

A video and pastoral letter from May 2020 that outlines the financial position of Sackville United Church at that time can be found below:

Video Message from the SUC executive (May 2020)

Should each congregation approve the proposal and budget ‘in principle’ they would be brought to a meeting of the Pastoral Charge in early June for final approval.

Questions about the proposal or budget may be directed to the Chair of the Council, Jane Braedley who will consult with others as necessary and respond. Questions and answers will be posted here so that others may be aware the discussion moving forward.

Questions and Answers

Question 1:

Can we take more time to faithfully consider our current financial crisis and best ways to address this? I cannot imagine our ministry at 85%; how do we do that? This proposal moves to one suggestion to handle the financial pinch. Can the pastoral charge discern the full impact of our financial distress and how best to meet our present dilemma. We are a community of believers who have demonstrated intentional gift giving. I believe in our capacity for generosity.

Response:

The financial situation facing the pastoral charge is not a new situation. It is one that has been developing over a number of years. SUC has been in a deficit position for more than 5 years and have been using their dividends from investments to augment the budget. The Lafford payments will be completed in 2023 adding more stress to their financial situation. USUC has been experiencing a decrease in regular givings and has been unable to do any fundraising in the past year or so. They too have been using investment monies to augment their finances. COVID has impacted the financial situation to some extent but it has not been the sole factor. Both congregations have been made aware of the financial situation over the years and increased regular givings, however, one time donations have not succeeded in alleviating the strain. We have managed in the short term and with the Lafford payments ending in the not too distant future it is difficult to imagine we can maintain the status quo for the long term. The SPC Council, given the information provided by the treasurers and assessing trends of giving felt the best option was one that looked at part time ministry. This was done in conjunction with and with the blessing of the ministry personnel.

Question 2:

A small group from Sackville United Church engaged in training in the UCC Stewardship program ‘Called to be the Church”. This is also available to Upper Sackville United Church. This program offers a comprehensive approach for nurturing stewardship more regularly and to developing a clear case for support in our congregations. Is it possible to take time to complete this process, to engage an active committee of Stewards and tend the spirituality of money/generosity in our midst? We need to talk more openly about money.

In the Affirming Ministry Vision Statement of SUC, “ We the community of Sackville United Church feel called to proclaim and live the call of Jesus in our midst. As people at Sackville United Church, we are committed to being a safe, nurturing environment, affirming and including all – those oppressed, those excluded and those marginalized… “This is inspiring – something I feel very willing to support. In this uncertain time God still calls.

Response:

Even with the changes proposed, stewardship will need to be a piece of the ongoing plan to ensure each point is able to meet their budgets in the long term. Deficit budgets have been presented at the last 5-6 AGMs at SUC and have been accepted. Money has been brought forward in both points as concern was raised and appeals made. Congregants have increased their givings as they are able or donated. With the impending end to the Lafford payments, the need for generosity will increase again at SUC.

It is the hope that by making some difficult decisions SUC will be able to continue living out the Affirming Ministry Vision Statement in the longer term.

Question 3:

As a Pastoral Charge we engaged Lloyd in a call to full time ministry. I believe that is a commitment that we need to honour and to tend. My deepest concern is that, once we reduce our ministry to 85%, we place ourselves in decline. It tends to set a course for future ministry. Can we take time to review our current crisis and consider various possibilities?

Response:

Lloyd has been fully engaged in the discussions that lead to this proposal. He has provided feedback and support. He was the one who brought the idea of incorporating his chaplaincy contract into his current ministry as he has been fully aware of the financial situation for a number of years. This proposal allows him to remain a full-time employee if the SPC assumes his chaplaincy contract. There is some mutual benefit to him as well if we do it this way.

The current crisis is not new. It needs to be addressed now for the best interests of all parties involved.

It will take energy and intention by the congregations to ensure that the charge remains vibrant in it’s ministry with the reduction to 85%. Everyone will need to support Lloyd through this transition if the proposal is accepted. It is important that he does not try to accomplish the work of 100% ministry to SPC when he is employed to do 85% time.

Question 4:

How do we tend all the aspects of ministry in our congregations at 85% without overwhelming our clergy or dropping some aspects of ministry, and adding volunteers ? Worship has been clearly identified by members of SPC as a high priority, and it is this area that would be diminished significantly with this proposal. This may reflect some variance in the points of the charge; however, reducing worship does not feel faithful to what our members have articulated.

Response:

Worship was identified in the Faith Community Profile as being the most important aspect of ministry to the SPC. It was felt after much deliberation that it was the area that needed to be adjusted in terms of time in order to fairly reduce Lloyd’s time to 85%. The areas of Outreach, Pastoral Care, Christian Education were less structured by nature, often provided in emergency situations. It was felt to be more difficult to reduce these hours without cutting more substantially into their ongoing provision to achieve the percentage decrease we needed.

As I mentioned everyone will need to support Lloyd if this proposal is accepted. We will need to ensure he does not get overwhelmed and take on more than he is able to handle at 85%. More volunteers may need to be recruited to fill in gaps to augment services/worship offerings. Again reducing worship services and the preparation required for those services will enable Lloyd to structure his weeks better to ensure he fits the work of his vocation in this reduced hours scenario.

This proposal was structured with the vision of being faithful to the members of the charge and to Lloyd.

Question 5:

The Chaplaincy is a significant ministry and largely unfamiliar for many of us members of SPC. The contract for this ministry is between Lloyd and the Regional Office. As part of the Lloyd’s responsibilities while minister in SPC, what is our responsibility i.e. who provides support and supervision for this ministry? What responsibilities will our Ministry & Personnel have? Chaplaincy is an essential service in many ways and may become more pressing at times especially during Covid and emergent situations.

Response:

The Chaplaincy contract Lloyd currently fulfills is with Fundy St. Lawrence Dawning Waters Regional Council. If the proposal is adopted Sackville Pastoral Charge will invoice the Regional Council for the hours of service that Lloyd provides. SPC will pay him as an employee fulfilling that contract so that these wages are pensionable earnings for him. Our Ministry and Personnel Committee would only be involved if there were some concerns regarding how Lloyd was fulfilling the terms of the contract. The main responsibility of the charge will be the administration of the contract. There are terms regarding this that we will be agreeing to with Lloyd if this is accepted. These are referred to in the proposal.

Question 6:

I understand that our financial picture and other factors bring urgency for us to find ways to sustain the ministry of Sackville Pastoral Charge. Changing the terms of Community of Faith Profile to reduce our ministry to 85% strikes me as a process that needs our prayerful and timely consideration. Moving too quickly to accept this offer before discerning how best to shape the pastoral relationship and our ministry seems unwise to me.

Response:

Proposing the changes to the Community of Faith Profile has emerged as the best way to address our current and long-term financial challenges. It has not been entered into without a great deal of discernment. The pandemic, although not creating this financial situation, did present delays in dealing with it and creating some kind of action plan. This process was started almost a year ago and assistance was sought at the regional level. Circumstances arose that delayed the SPC Council is getting to this point and communicating this proposal to the charge.

Question 7:

Although this is a generous and appealing proposal, it does not give us a chance to fully embrace where God is calling us at this time.

Response:

It will certainly take work by all members to be present and intentional so that we can support Lloyd in a ministry that reflects where God is calling us as fully as possible given the changes proposed.

Question 8:

If it’s too late, that’s fine. But personally I’m not ready to make a decision on this until things are clarified with “plain language” in the documents that were submitted to the congregation. I found the information confusing and full of jargon that I’m not familiar with in this church setting. I believe these documents need to be resubmitted to the congregation using terms, phrases and words that are easily understandable so that an informed decision can be made. If I had to make a decision based on what has been sent out, I would vote against any change.

Response:

The proposal was fit into the Faith Community Profile, position statement and workload analysis as that is what will need to be presented to the Region if the decision is made by the SPC to make a change in the pastoral relations with the ministry personnel. It was cumbersome to work with and as you mentioned the way it is structured can be confusing. 

To clarify the proposal in a nutshell would see Lloyd’s time allocation to the SPC be reduced to 85%. This would be broken down to 5% USUC and 80% SUC. The SPC would assume the administration of a chaplaincy contract that Lloyd currently holds with the region to make up the other 15% of his time. In effect he would be working full time for the charge within the percentage breakdown of his time outlined here.

The SPC Council has taken those percentages and operationalized them to propose how Lloyd’s time could be reduced to reflect 85%.

The decision was made to take that 15% time reduction from his worship workload. This would mean as the proposal stands he would provide 33 services throughout the year at SUC. He would provide 1 service per month for 10 months at USUC. His other workload would remain unchanged i.e. pastoral care, Christian education, outreach, administration etc. 

The blended budget reflects the financial responsibilities for each congregation. From January 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021 shows what each congregation is responsible to pay under the original agreement for percentage allocations. If a change in pastoral relations is decided the budget shows what this would look like from June 30, 2021 through to December 31, 2021

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