Good News and Challenging News

A letter to the congregation from Rev. Bill Sinkford, Transitional Minister and Neil Manzullo, Board President.

There is such positive energy as All Souls regathers this fall. It feels like All Souls “is back.”

But there is also the challenging news of large deficits for the church ($400,000 last year). All Souls needs to hold both the joy of regathering and the challenging financial news. It is a complicated spiritual space.

The good news is that the energy in our community will make dealing with the challenges possible. We will all have the opportunity to help in an effort called “Funding The Future” that we will launch from the pulpit on October 2.

All Souls was running deficits before Covid. The financial challenges are not new. Talking about money is complicated in a church named All Souls. We value diversity of economic circumstance. But it seems clear that the need to support the church financially has not been effectively communicated to many, perhaps most of us. All Souls needs to cultivate a culture of generosity.

Funding the Future will ask us all to step up. The good news is that, together, the financial challenges can be met. And the very best news is that All Souls can reclaim a hopeful vision for Beloved Community.

You will be hearing a great deal about generosity and the spiritual practice of supporting this church in the next four weeks. We will celebrate our success in this effort the weekend of November 6. We can do this. Together.

From Neil Manzullo, President of the Board

Over the past couple weeks, the Board of Trustees, Ministerial Search Committee, and church staff have done some deep discernment about a recommendation from Rev. Bill Sinkford: pause the ministerial search for a year to focus on getting our financial house in order. This week, the Board decided to do so.

We found this pause wise for many reasons, but one reason is this: We need to be able to offer a new minister a firm financial foundation on which to build. Last year’s large deficit is a sign that we have work to do before All Souls should search. We decided proceeding with the search could set up a future minister for failure. Potential ministers will want to see a church that supports itself.

This is, of course, tough news. We were excited about the search. But it’s tough news with a silver lining: Rev. Sinkford’s agreed to stay with us for an additional year, meaning he’ll be our lead minister until July 2024. As the former president of the UUA, as the former Senior Minister of First Unitarian Portland (one of the few churches our size within the UUA), and as a lover of All Souls and its mission, Rev. Sinkford’s ideally positioned to work with Executive Director Traci Hughes-Trotter to foster the culture of stewardship that will fund our future.

If you are in the sanctuary this Sunday, Board members will be available to discuss this postponement of the ministerial search after worship. Board members will also be available in the zoom social hour after the service.

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