By Kate Silfen, Church Historian | January 9, 2024 Council Meeting Report
The first Council meeting of 2024 brought good news for Old South. Treasurer Bill Bulkeley reported that a combination of factors have reduced our deficit to about a third of what the Finance Committee projected in early 2023. Member pledges were up, and staffing costs were lower than expected. Bill noted that most churches see member pledges drop during a transition in leadership, but ours actually increased. Old South’s Preschool, which just a few years ago nearly closed its doors, has rebounded with increasing profitability. Moderator Phil Stern praised the work of Old South’s preschool director Summer Marsh, who has worked hard to ensure its success.
Finance Committee Chair Niels Peetz-Larson offered a brief preview of the budget for 2024. Despite a continued deficit, he anticipates that Old South will be able to maintain our current level of staffing and programs through 2024. He will have a proposed budget ready to present at our February Council meeting.
Council was pleased to welcome Noah Brewer-Wallin who joined us to talk about initiatives within the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ (SNEUCC). Noah serves as the Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the SNEUCC. Noah outlined the mission of the SNEUCC, which is fourfold: 1) make disciples of Jesus; 2) make God’s love and justice real; 3) bring new life as agents of change; and 4) form covenant partnerships. Noah asked council members to divide up into small groups to discuss how they have seen this mission come alive at Old South. Council members mentioned the Climate Crisis Task Force, Small Groups and Old South’s work with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization as examples of our participation in the mission of the SNEUCC. The Justice Team of the SNEUCC is currently focusing on the climate crisis, racial justice, protecting LGBTQ+ rights, migration, and mental health. Noah reported that SNEUCC organizes several gatherings a year to address these social justice issues and encouraged Old South members to attend these meetings. This year, the SNEUCC will provide training to equip church members to engage with these social justice issues within a faith-based context. Noah invites Old South members to talk with him if they are interested in becoming involved with these training sessions.
As the Council meeting drew to a close, Phil reminded everyone that a busy stewardship season is upon us and urged everyone to pledge. Niels revealed that an impressive 98% of Church Council members pledge on an annual basis. Phil encouraged everyone to attend the annual Stewardship Celebration Lunch on January 28th. The Reverend John Edgerton closed our meeting with a brief prayer and a word of thanksgiving for the work of the congregation.