By Ann Lin

The Stewardship campaign has been in high gear this month with Commitment Sunday being February 11. If you have not already done so, please send your commitment to financially support Piedmont Community Church. Steve’s Commitment Sunday sermon gave an important message on why it is important to increase your support if you can. For years, Piedmont Community Church has been underfunded in meeting its annual operating expenses with members’ donations alone. We have been fortunate in being able to draw on our reserves but there are legal limits and common-sense limits to the amount that can be taken from endowment in any given year. Simple math indicates that annual spending more than annual revenue is not sustainable. To address this, a task force 2030 Vision Team comprised of Steve Schibsted, Pat Leicher, Tom Parry, and Rich Thompson are working on a long-term plan to reach sustainability with a goal of feasibility to draft annual operating budgets not to exceed annual revenue in five years. Use of endowment reserves should be limited to special projects or strategic program investments outside of regular operating needs. This alignment will be done through a combination of reducing expenses, increasing revenue, and program design in keeping with our Mission Study Report.

Here is the President’s report for the Board of Trustees meeting held February 12, 2024:

Finance Committee reports opening a new Capital Improvement Fund at Sepio Capital to hold the $1,000,000 anonymous capital improvement gift.  $119,944 was transferred to that fund as of 1/31/24 to cover capital/upgrade expenses to be incurred in the near term. Capital improvements spent to date are $324,747 for NextGen and $69,706 for capital/upgrade improvements elsewhere on campus. Our expenses have increased in all areas this fiscal year 2023-24. Total compensation increased $131,653 and includes two new hires and one staff retiring mid-year. Staff Benefits increased by $14,048. Christian Ed/NextGen expenses increased $35,795 and represents the extra expenses for a new program for NextGen. Music expenses increased $19,577.  Last year, we had not expensed all December and January soloists fees by this time 2023 but the same soloist expenses have been paid for 2024. Property and Equipment increased $32,925, which included spending on IT, janitorial, computers, taxes and utility expenses.

Stewardship reports the annual Stewardship Campaign has a goal of $1,200,000. The Stewardship Ambassador email was distributed to Board of Trustees, Mission Board, Deacons and past church presidents explaining how to become an ambassador supporting the Stewardship Campaign. We are still in transition but not specifically asking for transition gifts. Any special gifts are still welcomed and are appropriate for memorial or other tribute occasions. The transition discussion as relates to Stewardship messaging is we are still investing in Piedmont Community Church. We must shift to using our reserves for strategic investments vs. covering expenses. We should ask for everyone to give more and to seek broader and deeper financial support participation.  The print material scheduling and deliverables are all on target for brochures, letters, postcards.  The need for follow-up phone calls will be determined based on the responses at Commitment Sunday and reminder letters. The Stewardship Sunday speakers are lined up and Steve will cover Stewardship Vision throughout the campaign. On Commitment Sunday, Stewardship Committee held a simple reception with cake and beverage in Guild Hall.

Personnel reports staff budgeting and planning has started. Individual staff meetings will happen in the next few weeks and will include budget and goal setting.  We are hoping to have the conflict of interest statements for staff and board members ready for the Personnel Committee to review in our March meeting. Joan suggests that this form be included in the Personnel Manual. Julie and Joan continue to work on the Personnel Manual using the template from the Chamber of Commerce modified to reflect Piedmont Community Church specifics. Julie will focus on the Church budget for the next few months so the Personnel Manual will fall in priority after the budget. Christy and Joan are leading the effort for the Senior Minister Evaluation. They want to start the process a little earlier than was done last year with a goal to send the survey to the Board of Trustees to be returned mid-March. Toni reports there are some prior receptionist tasks that can use more resources. Toni will make of list of these tasks and work with Steve during the review cycle to try to get coverage. Jay has been doing a good job in picking up more admin tasks. 

Buildings & Grounds reports they met this week to review and reorganize the work proposed for next year given the untimely and devastating loss of Bob Wright. The committee discussed the need for his replacement as a member of Buildings & Grounds.  Individuals were suggested and installing Bob’s replacement was taken to the Board of Trustees for review and action. Jay indicated there were fewer leaks than expected during the recent winter storms and most leaks were easily handled.  The Narthex had no leaks and the sandbag solution for the North Entry is continuing to work. We expect exploratory demolition in the next few weeks. A railing contractor came to view and provide an estimate for new railings at the ramp by the kitchen. The committee decided to pursue repair rather than replacement of CE Building windows. We are in contact with a contractor to provide an estimate for reglazing with high efficiency glass rather than replacing the units. At a minimum, windows on the south and west elevations will be reglazed. Jay is in contact with Renewal by Anderson, which is a residential replacement vendor, to replace all windows in the caretaker’s cottage. Buildings & Grounds discovered our site already has a back flow preventer so the previously estimated $10,000 to cover this is unnecessary. The unit is old but seems to be operational. Steve Main and Michael Barber are reviewing upgrade needs to the Sanctuary sound system. Pricing will be sought when the work needed is defined. Repair of the irrigation at the front stairs off Mountain Avenue is still being reviewed. The irrigation system for that area is shut off to mitigate the problem until a solution can be reached. New Use Contracts were delivered to the tenant preschools and we expect negotiation soon. We received one bid for the sealing and repair of the parking lot and driveway and are looking for another bid.  We hope to have the work completed this spring or summer.  A lighting consultant has been identified and will be contacted in the next week.

Deacons reports Paul Schroeder will set up a task force to re-envision the Altar Guild. More people need to know about it and its importance and purpose. The big issue is altar flower donations dropped and it is not sustainable for the Altar Guild to continue subsidizing flower expense at current levels. Altar Guild will subsidize flower provision until about Easter. Paul will investigate enhancing or re-doing the fake flowers used when there are no live flower donations. There is a new member class planned for 1/21/24.  Don and Deacons will investigate how we can better reach out to the congregation to support members we are not seeing and connecting with. After the Sunday service is the entry point of engagement to identify who we don’t see or missed a service. Deacons are sponsoring recent and upcoming fellowship events of game night, Ash Wednesday, and Maundy Thursday. Deacons are considering trying to schedule something monthly including field trips. Loaves & Fishes will provide dinner for Ash Wednesday.  Life Groups will restart 2/22/24. Sue Coffin reported the Spiritual Formation group scheduled a women’s retreat in January. Adopt a Family gave 30 families Christmas gifts. There were small glitches when people did not drop off gifts in time for group hand off so delivery needed to be arranged. Inexpensive toys were purchased for 40-50 children for the Presbyterian Hispanic Church Christmas Eve party.  Easter baskets for Harbor House children are planned. 

Mission Board reports the Alternative Gift Market made about $23,000 which is less than previous years. In 2017, $45,000 was raised. Mike hypothesizes that people are contributing more to the Christmas Eve offering and buying presents for CityTeam and Harbor House gift drives for children. Don said in aggregate more was raised this Christmas season that in past years. Katrina and Blaire organized the January 27 City Team Hope Café event. In the future, we need to be more aware of procedures to get on the church calendar to avoid conflicts with other church events that might draw from the same pool of volunteers. On the Hope Café event date there was a fellowship Game Night and NextGen activity in Mission Bay. We will finish filling the Mission Board with four more members at the next annual meeting and individuals interesting in joining Mission Board should let us know. Judy Wright is working on understanding interest in continuing to support Malawi. Sara Hirsch and Don will meet with PIPH on feasibility to transfer Piedmont Community donations to a Treasures Sale held at the PIPH church. For the 2024-25 budget process, Mike is working with Will Adams from Deacons to separate MAT budget from Deacons now that Mission is a board and no longer part of Deacons.

NextGen reports January was full but quieter than December. Besides extended travel, illness also seemed to lower attendance. Staff reached out to absent families to see how we might help. Two new families completed the NextGen New Family form needed for children students to participate in Sunday School and NextGen activities. The focus of the month for NextGen was Mexico trip preparation and onboarding and orienting our new Mexico Mission Coordinator, Shelley Clopton. With Mexico Mission Trip adult volunteer registration and all accompanying forms completed, registration is finally closed.  This enabled us to proceed with obtaining travel insurance and flight reservations for trip attendees.  New policies regarding vans entering Mexico and regulatory crack downs in the insurance industry caused a major change in our transportation strategy for the Mexico trip resulting in the need to hire a combination of U.S. based chartered buses and local buses secured by Amor. The teams will be met at the San Diego airport by chartered buses to transport them across the border to the campsite. Daily, local buses will transport the teams to and from campsite to worksites. All buses have insurance.

Local NextGen event highlights include a trip to Escape Oakland for 17 middle and high school students for an evening of fun and team building. Five families headed to San Francisco for a play date at Mission Bay playground and a bite at Spark Social. The NextGen curriculum for Sunday School in January focused on Jesus’s teachings that the earth and everything on it is the Lord’s, and that is why they should show responsibility. For both MS and HS students, the curriculum was focused on helping students become aware of their “self-talk” and thoughts and replace them with Biblical truth.

Student Ministries reports the Student Leadership team of five HS and 2 MS students met twice in January to give input into the program, lesson content, and events as well as encourage them to invite other students to attend NextGen. A MS retreat was planned for 2/9-11 and four students attended.  The trip had to be cut short by one day during the retreat partly due to the camp losing wifi needed for the media presentation and due to behavioral issues with some students. Half of the accommodation fee will be returned by the facility. The first MS and HS parents fellowship dinner for 2024 was hosted by the Hillers. The MS students collected items and assembled hygiene packs for the homeless delivered by Scott to City Team to distribute to individuals. On the Mexico Mission front, each student team will do a local community service project as part of their team building. Shelley Clopton is a great addition to the Mexico Mission effort and will work part-time as an admin through the end of April.