At our last meeting, your Board decided to delay our search for a Lead Minister for another year. That decision was made deliberately so we could attract multiple qualified candidates for our consideration.
Here is why. First, there are 34 other congregations looking for ministers right now. Some of those locations have been looking for two years or more. In the past year, there were 24 ministers who graduated from ministerial school. Most went back to the congregations that sponsored them and no one from that group is looking for a new congregation to serve.
Second, COVID had a significant impact on our finances, from which we are just starting to recover. We survived in large part because we obtained two Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loans from Stock Yards Bank. One has been forgiven and the other will be forgiven next year. In addition, we cut our staffing costs dramatically. Financial support just started improving as we opened up for in-person services.
Third, our financial issues predated the pandemic. Over the past several years we used transfers from our savings to meet operating expenses on an intermittent, but regular basis. Our capital campaign, the Generosity Fund, was weak for a congregation of our size.
Any worthwhile ministerial candidates will quickly see these problems as they examine our financial reports.
Fourth, our physical location has serious issues. It is not accessible for people with physical impairments. It has been subjected to frequent and costly vandalism. A sizable portion of our membership will not attend nighttime events in our facility. We always depend on the kindness of our neighbors for off street parking. At our most recent Community Meeting, a congregant suggested that we must sell our property before we do anything else. Several others expressed the same sentiment to board members after the meeting.
We need to resolve these issues to attract highly qualified individuals for our lead minister position. To the good, applicants to the ministerial schools are on the rise. We can expect more candidates in a year after we off load our physical plant and improve our fiscal situation.
So here is the deal. Reverend Valerie has agreed to another interim assignment as our lead minister starting on December 1, 2021 and ending on November 30, 2022. We will start the search for a permanent lead minister in March of 2022 based on our progress to date at that time. We will continue our conversations with Unity of East Louisville about sharing a Ministerial Team.
As always, we welcome your input on these and other matters at our Fireside Chats and at future Community Meetings. We will post the schedule for our Collaboration Meetings with East on our website.Your attendance and input will be appreciated.
Chuck Fulner Board President
P.O. Box 2468 Louisville, KY 40201 | 757 South Brook Street Louisville, KY 40203 | tel: 502.583.5559 | www.unityoflouisville.org