Finance: A Budget Narrative

A Budget Narrative

by The St. Luke’s Stewardship Committee, 2014

What does St. Luke’s budget tell us about St. Luke’s identity and values?

A church’s budget is a profound statement of identity and values.  This document looks at our budget not through an accountant’s lens, but through the lens of mission.  What are the sources of our income, and how do we spend it?  What does this financial stewardship say about us and about what we consider to be important?

An analysis of the budget shows that St. Luke’s expenses can be divided into 4 major categories:

Worship: We are first and foremost a worshipping community gathered around the Eucharistic table.  The Eucharist is what brings and binds us together.  We take the beauty of our ancient liturgy and it’s setting very seriously, because in it we experience the Holy Presence and through it we approach the mystery of God.  Music is a critical part of Anglican worship and St. Luke’s is renowned for its music.  Baptisms, weddings and funerals provide a means of grace for many people.

In 2014, leadership, supplies, and physical space for worship will cost $189,887 or 33% of our operating budget.

Community: Jesus said:

“For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.”

– Mt. 18:20

“I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another.  By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-35

We meet Jesus by gathering as a community in Jesus’ name, and by doing the hard work of loving each other no matter what because the things that bind us together are much stronger than the things that might drive us apart. Our community is inclusive and celebrates each of us in our diversity.  We not only invite newcomers, we strive to embrace the change they bring with them.  Our parish staff works to promote connection among current parishioners and between current members and newcomers.  Our building provides a venue for parish activities.  Our information technology serves as a channel of communication.  By participating in the life of the Body of Christ, we learn to be the Body of Christ.

In 2014, $107,698 or 19% of our operating budget will support the nurturing of our parish community.

Formation: Preaching and teaching for all ages that nurture our journey in faith are essential to our community.We all need ongoing formation as followers of Jesus, and we cannot assume that our neighbors have even heard of Jesus let alone understanding what he stands for. For young people, St. Luke’s offers Church School, Godly Play, Rite 13, J2A, and YAC. Many adult formation opportunities occur throughout the year.

In 2014, the cost of leadership, materials, and space for our educational and youth programs will be $66,568 or 12% of our operating budget.

Service: The people of St. Luke’s participate in God’s work in the world in many venues. Some of the more visible ministries include the St. Elizabeth’s Essentials Pantry, The St. Luke’s Food Pantry, the Preble Street Soup Kitchen, and the 100,000 Homes project. St. Luke’s parishioners have been instrumental in planning and raising funds for a school, which is nearly complete, in Duny, Haiti. Last year Dean Shambaugh distributed more than $5,000 in assistance to needy individuals and families from his discretionary fund. Money from the first Sunday offering is used for grocery gift certificates for St. Elizabeth’s pantry clients. Five 12-step groups helping people on the long road to recovery meet in our building. Our building is also used for West End community meetings and for hosting community arts events and concerts. As the seat of the Bishop of Maine, we also support our diocese by hosting diocesan events and programs. Empowered by meeting Jesus in Word and Sacrament, by participating in the community of the Body of Christ, and by attending to our ongoing Christian formation, we take our individual talents and resources into the world to proclaim, through action and witness, our eagerness for the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth.

In 2014, $203,753 or 36% of our operating budget will be spent to support service to our neighbors and to our diocese.  Contributions made directly to the Haiti Building Fund, the Haiti Quarters Fund, The Haiti Outreach Fund, The Food Pantry Fund, The United Thank Offering, Clergy Discretionary funds (used to help people, frequently from outside our parish, who come seeking assistance), and other specific purposes are not reflected in the operating budget.

How is the St. Luke’s budget funded?

This year sixty-six percent of the money supporting our operating budget comes from our individual contributions.  3% comes from fundraisers like the holiday fair and yard sale.  Nine percent comes from rental of the building and of the parking lot.  Income generated by our music program totals 3%.  The diocese will give St. Luke’s $20,229, or 4%, of our income in 2014 to offset some of the cost of our support of diocesan programs and events.  Fifteen percent of our income comes from interest on our endowment.


A word about the Cathedral’s endowment…

This amount may increase or decrease depending on the state of financial markets.  Most of this money has been given to St. Luke’s through wills and bequests.  Almost half of the endowment money is given for designated purposes such as building maintenance and repair, outreach, music, flowers, and prayer books and can only be used for these specific purposes.  A formula is used to determine each year how much money can be withdrawn from the endowment without reducing the principal in order to preserve this resource for future generations.  St. Luke’s has a socially conscious investing policy that seeks to align our stewardship of this money with the Five Marks of Mission of the worldwide Anglican Communion and with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. This means that we make sure the investment of St. Luke’s endowment money is consistent with the Scriptural injunction to take care of God’s creation with special concern for the most vulnerable and needy.  As you can see from the chart above, our endowment, while important, is able to support only a small part of our expenses.

Our Challenge

Our community will grow and flourish to the extent that we model God’s radical generosity with creativity, with energy, and, yes, with money. The Holy writings tell us that we are created in God’s image and are given special responsibility to promote and to support God’s ongoing work of creation. Modeling God’s generosity is part of this responsibility.

Our stewardship of God’s creation involves everything we do—all of our time and all of our money.  Every financial decision and every choice we make about how to use our time is an act of stewardship because all of the money we have access to, all of our time, and all of the resources of our lives are entrusted to our wise use by God.

Considering our pledge of monetary support for the mission of St. Luke’s Cathedral should be a prayerful discipline recalling the scriptural standard of returning the “first fruits” of our labors directly as an offering to honor our Creator.

No one can tell us how best to honor God with our money because our individual circumstances vary greatly. We, ourselves, are the only ones who know fully the complexity of our financial responsibilities and resources and how best to allocate these resources.  Our challenge is to set aside the anxiety and fear that come from worshipping the idols of scarcity and greed, to honor God with our stewardship, and to continue working to usher in God’s Kingdom in which everyone has enough.

May it be so, with God’s help.