By now you know that the shutdown came in the middle of our pledge campaign. We have had a few budget meetings already and another is coming up soon. I know you have been asked to give to the church, and I have spoken about what it means to have a church like ours as part of the religious fabric of the larger community. What I have not done is speak to you as head of staff about what your money and leadership does for the staff at St. John’s. There are many reasons for you to be proud of your church.
We have a commitment to pay our child care staff no less than $15 per hour. Even though they only work a few hours, we feel that this is a fair wage and reflects the importance of their work and our children.
We have a commitment to pay a portion of insurance cost for employees who work more than 15 hours a week after the first year. This is a significant cost to the church, but reflects that we believe people should have access to health care.
We strive to keep every employee in the range of “fair compensation” as defined by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). We succeed and offer wages between 21% and 86% of the recommended range.
We pay into the UUA retirement plan for eligible employees.
Every time we turn on the TV, we can hear candidates of one sort or another speaking about workers’ wages, health care, security in retirement, and more. I am proud to serve a congregation whose lay leaders have chosen to enact our values by making the above commitments. I am proud to be part of a congregational tradition where church members gathered and voted to pursue a Paycheck Protection Program loan.
If you have been to any of the budget meetings, you will know that we are looking at a deficit budget this year. Many of you would like us to come as near to a balanced budget as possible. Stewardship is a spiritual choice and practice. Together we will build the community as we choose it to be.
Because of our values, we are obliged to take care of ourselves and each other even if that means letting go of traditional ways of gathering for a while. You, and your neighbor, and theirs, are too important for us not to work creatively and find healthy ways forward.
Undoubtedly, different decisions and courses of action will change the way we relate to money.
I believe the whole congregation should be informed and engaged in these decisions. It matters how we spend our money and it matters that we are honest about how we make decisions. If you are a book-signed member of the congregation, your presence at budget and congregational meetings is more than symbolic; your engagement matters.
Even if you are not a book-signed member, if you are a pledging friend or have ever dropped a dollar in the plate, please know that you can be proud of the ethics embodied in the business of church at St. John’s. We simply cannot embody our values without the dollars to give life to fair wages and healthy people. Thank you.
Rev. Mitra Jafarzadeh