Last month I shared a series of photographs from recent events in the life of our congregation that clearly showed we’re enjoying our time together and that it is enriching our lives and strengthening that sense of community expressed as a primary goal in the Shaping Our Future process of several years ago.
This month I want to take a similarly broad approach, but with words rather than images. I want to explore a series of topics rather than focus on a single one.
As announced last Sunday, we’ve completed the primary phase of our Stewardship campaign for next year, assembling pledged funding that is slightly more than achieved last year and will provide a solid foundation for the budgeting process now underway. That process will look at historic data and add projected income from other sources (Sunday offerings, unpledged contributions, and typical fundraising activities like the auction) to arrive at a reasonable basis for financial planning of our 2012-13 church year. I know that many of us have been hoping to lift that foundation a little higher in order to directly strengthen some of our programs, recover capabilities lost in recent years (like administrative staffing in our church office), and fully fund our national and regional dues, which may now require budget-planning tradeoffs or additional fundraising. Our institutional health is excellent, however, and the vitality we sense in our gatherings suggests that almost anything we truly choose to accomplish will prove to be possible.
That vitality, by the way, should be easy to sense in our annual Opportunity Fair, scheduled to follow the Sunday service on the 20th of this month, so please plan to stay for that event. The format is a room lined with booths or tables where representatives of various entities from within Cedars (committees, interest groups, teams, etc.) will offer glimpses into their worlds of activity and invite your participation. As you’ve probably noticed by now, we are an active group, but not without intentionality. That mission statement we’ve put to music and sing every Sunday identifies four primary areas of congregational interest in its phrasing: We worship with open hearts, nurture a learning spirit, serve justice with compassion, and love without judgment. We have active program committees and associated subcommittees in each of those areas, and our Fair is meant to help you explore possibilities, start conversations, and open doors into deeper participation wherever you might wish to find it.
The Opportunity Fair will also preview a 2012-13 budget proposal for your review and comment. Preparatory work by Cedars’ Budget Leadership Team (representing governance as well as program interests) is currently underway, reviewing and balancing individual budget requests from committees and teams against projected income (which is why we recently pushed our stewardship campaign to completion). A footnote of possible interest to some of you is that the separate and independent organization of a new North Kitsap UU group and the consequent redirection of energy and pledging from a few of our NK members has not significantly altered our ability to maintain Cedars programs and level of activity.
Another indicator of that vitality I mentioned earlier is the growing number of young children on the story carpet at the center of our Sunday morning worship space. Children naturally come with young families, and DRE Candee Cole‘s expertise with the RE programs is attracting the parents as well as the children. Our younger families are attracting others like them and facilitating new friendships among themselves and with the rest of us (many of whom have once been young adult members of this or a similar congregation). We are growing in multigenerational diversity, and we are creating a more complete and caring community (it’s probably not necessary to note the pleasantly conspicuous energy and joy that often seems to accompany the children on their way to and from that carpet).
And turning now in a completely different direction, my final topic is parking carma [sic]. One of our members with a physical need for the special parking we identify by signage adjacent to Webster Hall recently commented that we seem to have lost an understanding of that need. We have been given free access to the large parking lot of the Sage manufacturing facility across Day Road for our general parking and have tried to reserve the smaller Island School parking lot for those with physical disability (who outnumber the several specifically designated spaces there) or with other needs for adjacency (such as transporting items needing to be carried into the building or ensuring the safe arrival of infants and small children). But there have been recent times when the special lot has not been available for its intended users (because of early arrivals before the Sage lot was unlocked, or perhaps because its intended usage has not been understood). I’m hoping that by simply mentioning it here, our needs as a community can inform or guide our parking as individuals.