Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Council Meeting Minutes
December 13, 2022
Present: Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Craig Collins, Bonnie Hare, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, Steve McIntire, Suzanne Warner, John Volkening
Staff: Pastor Krista Zimmerman, Pastor Paisley LeRoy, Deacon Heather Feltman
Location: Education Hall
Meeting called to order at 6:36
Council Secretary: Craig Collins
Pastor Krista led devotions by citing several passages in the Bible referencing fear (“do not fear” or some similar admonition is mentioned 365 times in the Bible) and examining why we experience fear in our lives. She went on to share that when we as Christians step out in faith we have a God who has already given us enough and who cares and loves us. She concluded devotions with a prayer.
Agenda Item: Debt Reduction Campaign (2019-2022)/2023 Building Fund (Expansive Church Commitments)
Deacon Heather reported that we have met and exceeded our financial goal for the 2019-2022 debt reduction campaign. Total gifts received to date are $837,437 and payments made to the Mission Investment Fund during the campaign period are $782,424. This leaves us with a surplus of $55,013.
Based on the recommendation of the BLC Finance Team and Deacon Heather, Steve moved, seconded by John, to reserve the positive difference from the 2019-2022 debt reduction campaign ($55,013) toward 2023 principal and interest payments due to the Mission Investment Fund.
Motion carried 10-0.
Deacon Heather reported that to date we have received $211,823 in building fund commitments for 2023 with several weeks to go before the end of the calendar year.
Agenda Item: 2022 Budget Update
While our expenses to date are less than expected at the end of November ($59,021), Deacon Heather reported that our weekly and charitable trust giving at the end of November was running behind $77,332. December is typically our biggest giving month.
Preschool revenues are exceeding our projections due mainly to increased preschool enrollment and a State of Illinois grant. Preschool expenditures are less than what we expected at this time of the budget year.
In order to balance the 2022 budget, the BLC Finance Team and Deacon Heather are recommending that rather than put the additional preschool revenue into a reserve account for use at some time in the future, we keep it as revenue for 2022. Council will consider this recommendation at a special Council meeting on January 10 after final 2022 revenues and expenditures are available.
Agenda Item: 2023 Recommended Budget
Deacon Heather presented the latest draft of the church’s 2023 operational, preschool, and building fund budget. This draft includes church staff salary increases of 3%, preschool staff salary increases of 4%, a contribution of 8% of weekly envelope and charitable trust giving to the Chicago Metro Synod, continued support of the Fox River Valley Initiative, money set aside in the fourth quarter of 2023 for a new lead pastor, and the transfer of our part-time custodian salary from the operational budget to the preschool budget.
Council members asked questions about the latest 2023 draft budget pertaining to the following line items: telephone and internet use; fellowship; lay leadership, professional musicians, and our annual contribution to the Chicago Metro Synod. Council members also discussed how this draft budget advanced the congregational goals enacted this past summer.
Brainstorming around the 2024 budget challenges, BLC will need to look at future revenue streams or to decrease expenses typically done through reduction in staff members or benevolence giving.
Budget forums will be held for congregational feedback on the proposed 2023 budget on Sunday, January 15, Wednesday, January 18, and Sunday, January 22 in preparation for the adoption of the 2023 budget at the annual meeting on Sunday, January 29, 2023.
Agenda Item: Memorials and Cash Reserves
Deacon Heather provided Council members with an update on Bethlehem’s cash reserves and the current state of memorial gifts that have been received this year and in prior years.
At the present time, Bethlehem has approximately $169,000 dollars in reserve that can be used for the upkeep and maintenance to our building, $70,000 in undesignated funds that can be used for emergency expenditures, and $38,000 for use to balance our operational budget.
We have received $14,480 in memorial gifts in 2022.
Agenda Item: 1:1 Conversations
Over the past month Council members have reached out to members of the congregation who have not been a visible presence in the life of our congregation during the past three to twelve months. Several Council members shared stories about these 1:1 conversations. Rob encouraged Council members to continue this outreach to members of our congregation who seem to have fallen away from active participation at Bethlehem.
Agenda Item: Coffee with Council
Rob asked for any feedback from those Council members who attended the Coffee with Council on December 4 following the 9:30am service. There was general consensus that the meeting went well, and that the information presented was timely and appropriate.
Agenda Item: Call Committee & Ministry Site Profile (MSP) Update
Rob reported that progress is being made on recruiting members of the congregation to serve on the Call Committee and that he hoped to present a list of names to the Council for a virtual vote within the next few weeks.
Pastor Paisley reported that the Coffee with Council on December 18 would highlight a draft of our Ministry Site Profile (the document with details about our church that will be available to lead pastor candidates) and provide those in attendance with the opportunity, via an online survey, to share their thoughts about the pastoral strengths and personal qualities that we should seek in a new lead pastor. This survey will be offered to everyone in the congregation over the next several weeks.
Consent Agenda: November Minutes and October/November Financial Reports
Motion by Steve and seconded by John to accept the November minutes and October/November financial reports. Without objection, Rob declared the motion approved.
Executive Session: Staff and Rostered Leader End-of-Year Appreciation & Thank You Gifts
The Council went into executive session to consider end-of-year monetary gifts for Church staff. Rob excused himself from the meeting because his wife, Leslie, is a member of the staff. Pastor Krista also excused herself from the meeting.
After coming out of executive session, John moved, seconded by Bonnie, to approve the following end-of-year gifts of appreciation and thanks to the following salaried church staff:
Pastor Paisley – $1,250
Deacon Heather – $1,250
David Lincoln – $500
Jesus Alanis – $500
Melody Mathieu – $500
Leslie Blount – $250
Nelly Trejo – $250
Pong Sayasane, BLC Preschool Director, received a monetary appreciation gift earlier this year as did other BLC preschool staff through a grant from the State of Illinois for this purpose.
Motion carried 8-0.
John moved, seconded by Kelly, to adjourn the meeting at 9:22 pm. Without objection, Rob adjourned the meeting.