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When I was growing up, my family would gather in the living room to look at the photos of our last vacation and talk about the next big vacation of the summer. We would discuss where to go, what we wanted to do and, typically, who would get the middle car seat (which was always me as the youngest). These meetings were a way to get everyone on board and feel a part of the decisions of vacation planning which made the good times better and let my dad off the hook a little when things went wrong. When I got older and had a family of my own, we had similar family meetings, but I came to realize that we also had more serious family meetings to discuss what we wanted to do based on our budget. Those meetings typically started with a list of home improvements and large purchases before we got to what we had left for a getaway. As was typically the case, we would go over budget in the planning phase and it was up to me to figure out how to make it work. In those years, I got good enough at DIY projects to defer home improvements and found ways to work a little extra here and there to make the budget work.

We are in a similar situation at St. Andrew's where we need to take a hard look at our budget as compared to what we collect in pledges. As you know, the last couple of years were a bit lean due to unprecedented events globally and a shakeup internally as we struggled to find our path and identity. Our staff was significantly reduced, and our pledging numbers mirrored that decline. Although you may say this was not unexpected given what was going on in almost all churches worldwide, it was definitely something that we took seriously and immediately began to plan for a return to the vibrant church we once were under the guidance of our new (or soon to be new) rector. We immediately went about distributing surveys and held town halls in order to hear all your voices about what you wanted St. Andrew's to be. Out of those Q&A sessions, we learned that, fairly unanimously, we wanted a healthy church that focused on relatable sermons and strong spiritual leadership; we wanted a focused approach to outreach; we wanted a rich musical program; and we wanted a strong youth ministry program that allowed our children to learn the teachings of Christ in a fun, hands-on environment. And we listened. In the last year, we have found our full-time spiritual leader in Reverend Ben, we have found a bright and energetic musical director in Audrey Drennen and we have found our new Family Ministries director within our own ranks with Kristy Campagna! Along with revitalizing our staff, each ministry at St. Andrew's has refocused their energies to deliver on what you wanted including bringing back some of your favorite programs and events. All this investment into making St. Andrew's the church you want has been profoundly rewarding! But (you probably knew a “but” was coming) with that investment, we have to also look at the other side of the ledger and figure out how we are going to sustain this environment (a pessimist might say) or how we are going to improve on what we’ve done (an optimist might say).

That brings us to the need for a Family Meeting at St. Andrew's. On November 13th, we will hold a meeting for all active members to attend to look at the books, as it were. We will discuss all the things we have done and plan to do; we will discuss the 2023 budget and where there is room for improvements (think more budget, not less…) and how we as a church can get there. In short, we will have to come to a decision on what kind of church we want to be as we move forward knowing where we are now after the last two years of rebuilding. There will be a lot of joyous news and some hard truths, like in any Family Meeting.

I very much look forward to seeing everyone at the meeting so that we can have a meaningful discussion, can feel ownership of, and can all support the future of St. Andrew's.

Thank you and God Bless,

Jeff Herrera

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