Bethlehem Lutheran Church 
Council Meeting Minutes 
January 10, 2023

Present: Rob Blount, Craig Collins, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, Steve McIntire, Suzanne Warner
Staff:  Pastor Krista Zimmerman, Pastor Paisley LeRoy, Deacon Heather Feltman
Absent:   Megan Baxter, John Volkening
Visitors:  Bethlehem Finance Team: Jim Chrisler, Dennis Finney, Jim Geaman, Mike Linkimer
Location:  Ekstrom Hall
Meeting called to order at 6:39 
Council Secretary:  Craig Collins 
Cheryl Martines opened the Council meeting with a prayer.

Agenda Item: 2023 Budget Approval
Rob began the discussion by reminding Council members that the church budget is a visible statement about our mission as a church and represents the game plan for how we carry out that mission within our congregation and outside our church community.
Deacon Heather presented the third draft of the proposed 2023 budget including an update on giving and expenditures at the end of 2022. 
Fiscal highlights from 2022 include:

  • FY 2022 Giving (weekly envelopes and charitable trust) was $783,618.  This was $83,872 less than expected.  FY 2021 weekly and charitable trust giving was $858,604. 
  • Expenditures in 2022 were $56,203 under budget. 
  • The 2022 budget was balanced due primarily to using State of Illinois Child Care grant dollars ($116,595) and salary savings due to the departure of our lead pastor in August ($19,787).  
  • Total funds gifted for the 2019-2022 Debt Reduction Campaign were $859,130 versus the pledged amount of $746,104.  This represents $113,026 more than was expected. 
  • FY2022 Missions/Benevolence (budgeted and unbudgeted) total is $127,711. 

Deacon Heather identified several factors that have contributed to a decrease in giving:  the downturn in the stock market; moving from a three-year to a one-year debt reduction effort; the departure of our lead pastor; deaths within the congregation; and members moving or transferring membership to other congregations.

The 2023 budget includes these noteworthy items: 

  • FY 2023 Giving (weekly envelopes and charitable trust) is expected to be $824,415. 
  • Reserve funds of 78,000 may be used to balance the budget if necessary. 
  • Benevolence to the Chicago Metro Synod is $66,113 (8% of the total of weekly and charitable trust giving). 
  • Online giving fees continue to trend upward as more individuals chose to utilize our online giving options. 
  • Portico benefit costs (health, dental, life, and disability) increased by less than 1% over last year. 
  • Money has been allocated to the budget in anticipation of welcoming a new lead pastor in the fourth quarter of 2023. 
  • A 5% salary increase has been budgeted for rostered leaders.  A 6% salary increase has been budgeted for the Director of Worship & Music.  A 3% salary increase has been budgeted for remaining staff.  Preschool staff, including the Preschool Director, are scheduled for a 4% increase. 
  • We expect additional preschool tuition dollars to be taken in this year due to the addition of an “All-Day” class and the reduction of the number of “Half-Day” classes. 
  • We do not expect any Illinois Child Care grant income in 2023. 
  • The position of part-time custodian has been moved from the church operations budget to the preschool budget.  
  • Total funds pledged for Expansive Church 2023! are $214,234.  This is $21,398 less than what we need to pay our mortgage in 2023.  The 2019-2022 Debt Reduction surplus will be allocated to fully fund our Expansive Church effort in 2023 (76,706) and make an additional principal payment of $31,745. 
  • Our monthly mortgage payment is $19,636.  

There was consensus among Council members and the Finance Team that it is important to provide the congregation at the budget forums and at the Congregation meeting with a clear and candid assessment of the budget challenges we face as a congregation in the next several years. 

Motion by Kelly and seconded by Suzanne to approve the 2023 budget with amendments to the contingency fund and endowment fund line items and to forward this proposed budget for final approval at the Congregation meeting on Sunday, January 29.  Motion carried 8-0. 

Agenda Item:  Budget Forums and Congregational Meeting
There was discussion about the information that should be shared with the Congregation at the budget forums and at the Congregation meeting.  Council stressed the importance of being completely transparent about where giving and expenditures ended up in 2022, the use of state grants to balance the 2022 budget, the use of reserves, if necessary, to balance the 2023 budget, the question of adequacy of the lead pastor salary in the 2023 budget, and how we might engage the congregation in dialogue about our budget challenges throughout the entire year not just the last several months of 2023.    

Agenda Item: Ministry Site Profile Review Update
Based on the survey responses received so far, the Ministry Site Profile Review Team is making final edits to the Ministry Site Profile.  Pastor Paisley shared that her team is hoping to forward a final draft to the Council by the week of January 23.  Council members will then have the opportunity to review the document and ask questions of the Review Team.  Rob informed the Council that an electronic vote may take place in early February.   

Agenda Item:  Call Committee Update
The Call Team has been selected and introduced to the Congregation.  Call Team members include Greg Andrews, Sarah Belinski, Jeff Burhop, Kate Dockins, Judy Hanson, Jim Kautz, and John VolkeningCall Team members will be formally installed on January 29, 2023. 

Call Team members will meet with Pastor Sunitha Mortha from the Chicago Metro Synod in the next several weeks to review Synod protocols for calling a new pastor.   

Consent Agenda:  December Minutes and November/December Financial Reports 
Motion by Steve and seconded by Kelly to accept the December minutes and November and December financial reports as presented. 

Motion carried 8-0. 

Kelly moved, seconded by Suzanne, to adjourn the meeting at 8:32pm.  Without objection, Rob adjourned the meeting.