St. Peter's Church
A New Focus - Part I
Eestlased Kanadas, EWR Online - 02 September 2022
We have a plan to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of St. Peter’s Church. We have divided our plan into three parts:
1. Value analysis and cost savings
2. Revenue potential of excess capacity
3. Events, member support, and donations
We look forward to community feedback in order to prioritize and establish a timeline to achieve financial sustainability.
We would like our church is to be a living and caring part of our community, whose members celebrate the Christian values that define us, and who nurture a culture of inclusiveness which embraces the whole family. As such St. Peter’s must have a purpose which is community focused, with a spiritual growth that is relevant to our times. We are currently facing two problems, a decline in our congregation, and impending financial shortfalls. The issues are inter-related. For several years, we have endeavoured to reverse the decline. We cannot, however, continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.
Whether it be business or sports, if things are not going well, a dramatic change is required. Regardless of past loyalties and achievements, we need a cultural change. This requires a reassessment of our management, services, and our role in the community. It seems that the traditional services we have been pursuing are less relevant to today’s congregants. In business when you no longer fulfill the expectations of your customers they vote with their feet and move on. We are faced with the same issue.
Our opinion survey points out potential directions for the church to pursue. The church is dependent on the product as defined by the minister, management as defined by the council and the facility as its identity. Management has the primary responsibility for ensuring the financial sustainability of the church. Effective management requires far more than filling a role and reciting annual statistics. Effective management requires a commitment and a passion for the job and a strategic perspective and managerial skills that can deliver results. Good management does not hide from reality. Our priority is financial sustainability and how to achieve it.
The financial highlights for St. Peter’s Church - from the audited financial statements Dec 31/ 2021
The church has capital assets valued at $1,669,923
The church has short term investments totalling $649,429
The church has a columbarium trust fund of $79,088
The church has dividend income/unrealized gains equal to $54,277.
The church has a lease with the Salvation army $8,000/month till Feb 28, 2023.
Donations for which tax receipts were issued $78,393
Current account revenues $270,986
Church upkeep $77,832
Music – Organist /performers $18, 918
Office expenses excluding staff $11,531
Total employee compensation $138,185
Depreciation expense $36,151
Total expenses $264, 989
Excess of revenue over expenses before depreciation expense $5,996
Note 1. The church is a registered charity and as such, it does not pay taxes. Depreciation is an accounting entry, which is useful in a for profit business. For our church, it does not contribute to an operating loss.
Note 2. All registered charities file their detailed financial information based on their audited financial statements on form T3010 with the CRA. This information is public knowledge and available to everyone on line.
MANAGEMENT ACTIONS TO ACHIEVE FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY
We currently have a positive current account balance. This is primarily the result of a fortuitous happenstance of leasing the church to the Salvation Army at an above market rate of $96,000 per year paid for by Metrolinx. This lease expires in February 2023. This situation has led us to avoid analyzing our cost structure and considering ways and means to manage the congregation once this revenue stream no longer exists.
Value analysis and potential Cost Savings
The largest expenditure reported to the CRA on form T3010 Registered Charity Information Return is a summary of compensation paid to all employees of St. Peter’s Church. This includes the compensation paid to admin staff, cleaning staff and the minister. This is reported as $138,185.00
The executive council has proposed a budget approaching $80,000 for the pastor’s compensation.
Church attendance is averaging 10 people per Sunday. For our congregation if the pastor conducts 45 services, it will cost us close to $1,800 per service. On the first Sunday in August, there were only 6 people in church, including the pastor. Our church attendance does not justify the expense of a full-time pastor. Our impending financial shortfall makes it imperative to seek alternative solutions to carry on the congregation.
Consideration has to be given to other options until such time as the attendance justifies a full-time person. One option is to consider a part-time ministry. We could seek out another congregation that is willing to share their pastor. This option is common practice with orchestra conductors. Another option is to use visiting pastors, both Estonian speaking and English speaking, for a year. This has the potential to provide a new perspective and create renewed interest on the part of our congregation. These visiting pastors would be paid a stipend up to $500.00 per service. In the first year we would budget $26,000 for this service. This arrangement would also allow us to tailor our services to the needs of the congregation, by reducing services in the summer vacation period. This practice is in effect now when the pastor is on extended vacation in Estonia. A contractual arrangement, however, pays for only services rendered. This would amount to a savings of up to $50,000 per year. The church would continue to have an office administrator who acts on behalf of the church council to schedule these visiting pastors.
The church currently provides accommodation to the pastor in the form of a 3-bedroom apartment in the church manse. Our financial statements do not reflect it as a benefit to the pastor. If this apartment was not required for the pastor, it would be a potential rental income for the church. This is a modern renovated apartment. Prior to renovation it was a four-bedroom apartment. This apartment is steps away from a Major Transit Hub at Eglinton and Mount Pleasant. At current market rates along with a parking spot it could be rented for approximately $3,500. per month. This would amount to an annual income of $42,000 per year.
We have an impending shortfall of $96,000 in 2023. If we are willing to consider servicing our congregational needs with either a part time ministry, or on a contractual basis, we would be able to match this shortfall with accrued savings and possible rental income.
This is a very difficult course of action which we are all reluctant to pursue. However, financial circumstances dictate the prudent course of action. It merits our serious consideration.