April Moderator’s Letter

Greetings Fellow Congregants,

In the last month, there have been several high profile resignations at the UUA, including that of President Peter Morales, amid controversy over hiring practices (see more here). Your board supported both the UUA’s request, and Reverend Sinkford’s willingness, that he serve as interim co-president of the UUA until a new president is elected at this year’s General Assembly in June.  This is a service we can all be proud of. You can read our and Bill’s thoughts on this here.  

Also of note, we are postponing our May 7th “Listening Towards Resolution” event.  In its place, Bill will hold the first of his planned quarterly Minister Q&As. We made this change to accommodate Bill’s schedule in light of his interim responsibilities at the UUA.

This month’s board meeting was focused primarily on the proposed budget for our next church year. The news is not good. Our annual fund drive fell short of goal by approximately $150,000. Staff transitions, and judicious transfer of some of our reserve funds, a one time measure, cushioned some of that.  However, an estimated $87,000 shortfall remains and our policies require a balanced budget.  The remaining shortfall will be covered by staff cost shifts and reductions (over 70% of our budget is staffing and personnel costs). Your board approved the budget as presented by the Finance Committee and Executive Team and it will appear as such on the church ballot for your approval in May. By the end of June, the Executive Team will prepare a plan to adjust our staffing to cover the remaining shortfall.  Regarding pledging trends and possible reasons for the shortfall, please read Bill’s March message about the budget here.  His analysis includes information on pledge reductions and cancellations which have occasioned much of that shortfall.  When the April board minutes are posted later this month, i encourage you to read remarks presented by Cindy Cumfer on the covenantal relationship between our church and its congregants.  Folks change their pledges for many reasons–finances change, people move away, etc.  But some congregants change their pledge because they disagree with actions taken by our church.  For those who have done that this year, please read Cindy’s comments. You might reconsider.  The impact to your church and our staff will be substantial.   

We’ll hold our next Board meeting on May 4, beginning at 7 p.m.

Again, thank you to everyone who has been involved and continues to work with us in strengthening our beloved community. If you have additional questions you would like addressed, please write the board at board@firstunitarianportland.org.


Randy Russell

Moderator, First Unitarian Church of Portland