Last night was our budget meeting. It is never a pleasant meeting. A year ago it was announced that 2009 was the final year that the congregation would be able to afford a full time pastor. Giving so far this year is $7,000 over budget, which is good anytime but on a budget of just over $100,000 in our current economy, it's amazing. This year I hoped to head off some of the controversy by telling the budget committee I didn't want a raise for next year. They still found things to fight about, and they cut the budget.
This congregation refuses to fund ministry. They will take care of building problems immediately, but anything else is a pain. We had someone donate a year's worth of DSL, because the finance people refused to pay for it. Between that and the 2 computers (1 used and 1 new) that were donated, we're twice as efficient in the office. Last night it was announced that if the anonymous donation stops, so will the DSL, because it isn't necessary. Neither are the computers. It isn't necessary to have a TV for the youth group to watch and discuss videos. It isn't necessary to give any staff members raises (ever-- 3 staff members haven't had a raise in 13 years). New carpet is necessary. New windows for the parsonage are necessary. Electrical upgrades are necessary. Program money is a waste and will not be funded. Angry Man (AM) was in rare form last night.
Once a year we have this meeting, and once a year I come away wondering why God called me to this place at this time. Last night AM brought in a bill he thought was too high for some plumbing repairs at my house. The grandson of a member did them, and AM was so ugly with him that we've probably lost all future contributions from his entire family. The rest of the group thought the bill was reasonable and that he had done a good job. AM also blasted the board for being lazy and not doing their share around the church. He was mad because he didn't think they were enthusiastic enough about coming in and cleaning the church on one day's notice after the carpet installation. Seven of the ten board members were represented. One was in the fields (it was the middle of harvest), one didn't know about it, and one couldn't make it. I think that's pretty good when you consider that it's not the board's job, and they were commanded to be there without much notice (and with no thanks or gratitude). AM didn't think so-- and thinks they have a bad attitude because they don't do more on the building and finance end (not that they are allowed, even though supposedly they are responsible for all aspects of the church and its ministry). By the time AM left, the board was visibly upset. Two of the women were shaking. I comforted them with the fact that this man was ending his term. At that point the nominating committee chair informed me that he was being nominated for a second three year term. AM gets part of his attitude from his father, and I'm sure passed part of it on to his son, who will begin service on the board in January.
Maybe it's time to be more proactive in my search for a call to a new church....