At the congregation’s last annual meeting, the Board of Directors discussed current challenges in the financial sustainability of religious communities, including UUCF. To address these financial challenges, the board determined, as difficult as it was going to be, the need for a staffing analysis and review of congregational programs. The goal would be to move to a completely balanced and sustainable budget to serve the UUCF mission more effectively as we move forward.
A Congregational Restructuring Advisory Team was formed with the primary charge to do a comprehensive study of UUCF’s personnel expenses and make recommendations for reducing those expenses as well as increasing salaries for remaining staff, as much as possible, to bring salaries more in line with Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) guidelines.
An integral part of the study was to conduct a thorough examination of the functions and duties of UUCF’s staff to identify potential efficiencies and reductions. The Advisory Team began meeting weekly in August. After carefully considering the UUCF Congregational Priorities Survey, an all-congregation listening session, committee-based listening sessions, details of staff’s functions and duties, staff interviews, UUCF budget materials, UUA staffing compensation guidelines and other resources, the team provided its recommendations to the board on Dec. 5.
After serious and deliberate discussions, the board voted on Dec. 12 for the following measures to support the future financial health of UUCF:
Eliminate the following positions:
- Assistant Minister (40 hours per week)
- Education Assistant (20 hours in per week)
- Youth Coordinator (25 hours per week)
- Communications Specialist (12 hours per week)
Change the following position:
- The Director of Religious Exploration position will now be the Director of Family Ministries and Faith Formation (remains 40 hours per week), which will now administer the RE program currently serving more than 165 children and youth, and support and expand faith formation opportunities for families and adults, including Soul Matters Covenant Groups, Wellspring program classes and adult RE classes and small groups.
Create the following new position:
- Assistant Director of Family Ministries (20 hours per week). The Assistant Director of Family Ministries will collaborate with the Director of Family Ministries, the Senior Minister, Director of Music and Arts, and the Religious Exploration Committee to support and help develop religious education and family ministries at UUCF. This position will focus on planning and supporting programming for grades K-7, and the program’s volunteer teachers.
- Web Coordinator (5 hours per week) – The position will update the UUCF website and have primary responsibility for the Thursday announcements email.
NOTE: The current Youth Coordinator Courtney Firth and Communications Specialist Sarah Creel have been given the right of first refusal for the Assistant Director of Family Ministries and Web Coordinator positions, respectively. As of this writing, Courtney Firth has accepted the Assistant Director for Family Ministries position.
The decision to eliminate any position is beyond difficult, especially given UUCF’s current cohesive and dedicated staff who have done so much to serve UUCF through the years. It is with great sadness that the board has given the 90-day notice to Assistant Minister Rev. Christin Green, as required in her contract. Rev. Christin has graciously elected to stay through Mar. 31 and help transition her responsibilities. We are deeply grateful for the wonderful gifts Rev. Christin has shared with the congregation. We are thankful for the work of Education Assistant Melissa Campos-Poehnert, and wish her the best in her new position as a reading specialist with Arlington County Public Schools. We also want to express our appreciation for the talents of Communications Specialist Sarah Creel. Her contributions have shaped our communications in many positive ways.
With these adopted recommendations, we will achieve the targeted reduction in personnel costs ($144,928), which would leave a modest amount of funds to increase salaries for remaining staff who have received, at most, a 3% cost-of-living raise only once over the past 10 years.
- Of the deficits UUCF has run over the past 3 years, those deficits have been covered by the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds from the federal government. There is still $20,000 left of that money in the operating reserves.
- UUCF has 36 new members since Ingathering in September, and the congregation looks forward to their financial support now and in the future. This coming Annual Giving Campaign will be more important than ever for the financial sustainability of UUCF.
- The board initially advised that, based on personnel costs, there would be a $31,000 projected deficit at the end of the 2023 calendar year (6 months into our fiscal year). Although there has been an unanticipated increase in facilities costs, revenues have been strong. If expenses continue to hold and revenues in December also hold to pattern, we anticipate a small surplus instead of a deficit for the first half of the fiscal year.
Changes like these are always a deep challenge to any organization, but especially to a community as close as UUCF. As difficult as these decisions are, we hope our actions will help stabilize UUCF’s financial sustainability and focus our staff’s efforts in areas that support the future needs and growth of UUCF.
After discussing these changes internally, the staff may choose to distribute the remaining job responsibilities in a different way to make better use of their time and resources; but they will not be expected to absorb job responsibilities of those who have left. This may result in discontinuing some staff duties that can no longer be accommodated by the remaining staff members.
Let us extend grace to each other as we navigate these changes over the next few months, for there are unknowns that we will have to discover together.
With great solemnity and gratitude for our devoted staff, we express our appreciation for their dedication to continuing their work and for their patience as we have struggled through the restructuring process. These recommendations have been made with great care and thought. We would like to thank the Advisory Team once again for their hard work on this difficult task.
The board plans to hold a town hall meeting, both in person and via Zoom, on Jan. 9 to discuss these restructuring changes. More information on time and location will be provided closer to the scheduled date.