Wiring Letter

Second  in a series of letters to First Parish about this year’s pledge campaign and appearing as inserts in the Sunday order of service. This one is from March 1. All are being posted on: firstparish.org/campaign


Can you hear the energy buzzing through this church, the voices of the folks who toil on your behalf? Can you feel the warmth of the hands that hold yours, the solidity of the infrastructure that embraces your spiritual home?

That all costs money.

I’m wired into this church—I’ve got electromagnetic waves traveling through me near the speed of light—so I’ll give you a quick rundown.

Staff compensation is the biggest item in our budget.

The people who work here are professionals. (I can attest: no one here is watching cat videos all day.) Many of them earned advanced degrees so they’re qualified to serve you. Some are so good at their jobs they have leadership roles in the wider UU denomination. For a surprising number of staff, working with you is a calling. Heady stuff.

I hope you agree everyone on staff needs to be decently paid. I’m running through everywhere in the church, so I hear things. The staff loves ministering to your spiritual life; educating your kids; comforting you when life’s bleak; honoring your social justice cause; making sure the place is clean, well maintained, and running smoothly; and financially accounting for your events and generous gifts. You all are worth every bit of effort!

Over the past year, we made great strides in our staffing. Our new Pastoral Care Minister holds a full-time position, as does the new Social Action Manager, for ten months of the year. To be fully staffed, we need to:

  • Hire a new Facilities Manager.
  • Bring back our Ministerial Intern (we have none for 2019-2020).
  • Hire a new Children’ Choir Director.
  • Hire a new Contemporary Music Leader.

However, embarrassingly, we’ve still got a way to go in fairly compensating our staff. Most positions are still paid below the midpoint of the UUA salary guidelines. That’s all we can afford. I know you want to show the staff the respect—the compensation—they deserve, but our pledge levels haven’t allowed it.

Frankly, I’m worried that if pledges don’t increase, we won’t be able to afford to give the staff a cost-of-living raise. We already battle other rising costs. For example, our health insurance premiums increased by 5% this year.

We need to raise $1.4 million for the 2020-21 operating budget. We’re too reliant on a few big donors, so, this year, to build our base, I’m asking you to meet the 520 Challenge. Please consider foregoing something small each week, like a couple of Starbucks coffees, and then pledge the extra $10 a week ($520 for the year) to First Parish.

Please pledge generously on Celebration Sunday, March 8, or as soon as you can. Hurry!

Faithfully yours,