By Kate Silfen, Church Historian | February 14, 2023 Council Meeting Report
Council members gathered for a busy Valentines Day meeting on February 14, 2023. It seemed fitting to welcome our new Associate Minister Ashley Popperson on this festive holiday. Ashley said that she was thrilled to be joining us on this new adventure, and felt blessed to perform her first Old South wedding on Valentine’s Day.
Much of the meeting was focused on financial and human resource matters. Stewardship chair Kathy Wade reported that as of February 7th, the number of member pledges came in at over 1 million dollars. She noted that this is a lower pledge amount than we received a year ago at this time, and that fewer households have made financial commitments. However, those that have made a financial commitment have increased their pledges, so our median pledge amount has stayed stable. Many council members noted that these numbers are good for this transitional year, and Moderator Phil Stern congratulated Kathy for a successful stewardship campaign.
Niels Peetz-Larson delivered some sobering news about the upcoming budget for this next fiscal year. Expenses are considerably higher than they were a year ago due to inflation, cost of living raises for staff, and a 13% increase in health insurance costs. The Finance Committee is recommending the movement of some capital campaign funds to help offset the deficit that is projected for the coming year. Committee members take this deficit very seriously and a smaller sub-committee will be looking at ways to alleviate this budget shortfall. Niels noted that surplus funds from previous years will help close this deficit, and that many churches are now in a similar financial condition. Council members praised Niels and the Finance Committee for devising a realistic budget for the coming year. A motion to approve the budget as presented was seconded and carried.
Council members were grateful to receive a report for Old South’s newly formed Human Resources Committee. Committee Chair Lisa Loveland announced that the committee is in the process of considering restructuring the Old South’s organization chart. There are currently 14 staff members who report to the Senior Minister, and the committee is considering other models. The Human Resources Committee hopes to make recommendations by the end of March so that they can share them with our new settled Senior Pastor.
Rick described the process for hiring a new Senior Church Administrator to fill Helen’s big shoes. He has worked with Helen and other members of the staff to write a description of the position and considering ways to distribute some of Helen’s many responsibilities. Rick plans to have the position posted by the end of the week, and hopes to be able to make an offer to a new Church Administrator by Easter. The goal is to give the new administrator time to work with Helen before her retirement in late May. Rick praised Helen for finding time to provide feedback on the job description while also closing out her work at Old South. He asked all members to pray for the Church as we seek to replace an administrator with incomparable gifts.
In the final item of business, Council approved the slate of new leaders for the coming year. Old South members will have the opportunity to vote on this slate at our 353rd Annual Meeting. Phil thanked outgoing Council members Caitlin Callahan, Kathy Wade, Pam Roberts, and Rica Reyes Black. Ashley Popperson then closed a very full meeting with a word of prayer and thanksgiving.