First Presbyterian Church February 2017 Pastor Walter's 2017 Annual Report: Faith in a Safe

I spoke with one of the members of the Finance Committee last week, who told me that we almost certainly would not have a balanced budget in 2017. This did not come as a surprise, as I knew that the funds from the sale of the manse were almost used up, and those had been used to pay my housing allowance up until now. All our church organizations have been quite diligent this year to minimize expenses and do their own fundraising projects. For example, a Pig Raffle, an extra pork dinner, and an extra rummage sale were just a few of these good efforts that happened in the past year. We will continue these efforts in 2017, though it is most likely we will have to spend some of our savings to meet our budget.

That being said, I am writing my report to you before the Finance Committee and Session have met to determine a final budget. Maybe people’s pledges will be better than currently expected, especially if they see the Annual Report packet before that final meeting. However, based on what I heard, I decided to break into the old church safe to see if there were any treasures there that could help us out financially this year. I should also tell you that the combination to it had been lost over ten years ago, and Session had said we could break it open if there was no other way to open it.

Some Session members even tried to “crack” the safe with stethoscope like they do in the movies, but that is not as easy as it looks. As a last resort, I attacked the hinges with a hammer and crowbar, and out came a great many old documents and some silverware with the church’s name on it. Unfortunately, there was no fortune to be found in gold, old stock certificates, or other assets that I could determine. Knowledgeable people are going over the contents now, and I am sure that it will make an interesting historical display someday.

There is an old South African saying, “The world is built on our grandmothers’ [and grandfathers’] prayers”. Even if I did not find literal treasure in the safe, I did encounter this pearl of wisdom when I looked over the various old documents. There were handwritten property deeds for the land around us, including a generous one for our First Baptist Church neighbors. The architectural drawings of the old manse were lovingly rendered in a way that bespoke a gift to God, and not just a house to build. Many of your families’ names were written in those pages, and I cannot even begin to list the generations of people who made our ministry possible.

A local historian explained to me that the Buckminster and Northrup clans were particularly generous in supporting the church, and the town of Wolcott in general. You can also see their names (not just from the safe) on church placards, shops, and even street signs, as a testament to their legacy. Tom Johnson always sits right behind the “Northrup pew” like he did since he was twelve years old, and Mrs. Northrup sat in front of him. They had a faith in our physical and spiritual community that is rarely seen today.

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I think we can all agree that 2016 was a rough year, and I am not just talking about the weather. I do not know what 2017 will hold for us as a church, or our community in general. I do find hope in the faith that I witnessed in our old church safe though. Those many generations certainly had their ups and downs and trusted God to see them through it all, both physically and spiritually. They gave us a legacy, which we will continue to the best of our abilities, as an outpost of the Kingdom of God.

My hope is that we may take that legacy as an inspiration to create marvelous new legacies for the generations to come.

Post Script (P.S.) : I wrote my Annual Report article before our church’s Session finalized the 2017 budget, and much to my surprise we do have a balanced budget for 2017. I have also included the Finance Committee’s Annual Report in the newsletter, in order to explain this in more detail.

Rev. Walter Stuber
First Presbyterian Church
11988 W. Main St., Wolcott, NY 14590 585-217-6030

Finance Committee – 2016

Members: Mary Ann Sparnon, Tom Johnson, Mary Lou Lockwood, Bob Stell, Dave VanFleet, and Susan Vezzose - Treasurer.

We meet monthly on the week prior to the monthly Session meeting. A finance report is regularly provided to Session for review and consensus action(s).

Approximately 70 line items are listed on the tentative 2017 budget report. These numerous items reflect the challenge of determining accurate/realistic monetary amounts to enter after each line of the 5th column: 2017 tentative budget. Throughout the church year, circumstances change and unforeseen monetary obligations emerge, making the budget computations only the best estimates at the start of the New Year.

The Finance Committee monitors figures, being aware that adjustments are frequently necessary. Unforeseen income also enters in.

Anticipated near to intermediate term future significant church building upkeep expenses:

A. Heating system/boilers – 2017 budget line item #6 headed “Boiler Reserve”, to be added to over time, serving to have funds on hand when needed.

B. Roof replacement – Within next 4-6 years. One of the church’s investment funds is subtitled “ROOF”, as an on-going reminder that this fund will most likely be needed as a source for new roof funding.

C. Exterior bricks preservation service – Within next 4-6 years. A second investment fund is subtitled “Bricks”, as an on-going reminder that this fund

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will most likely be needed as a source for bricks maintenance funding.

The church’s mutual funds investments performances are regularly monitored. These are asset allocated “balanced” investments, a mix of stocks and loan instruments (bonds), they comprise “moderate risk”. We need to remain invested in the stocks and bonds markets, as no reasonable alternatives exist in the present economy for decent predictable returns to the church.

Church members are encouraged to review the budget report at home, taking time to list questions desired to be addressed. Members and friends can contact Bob Stell,

Chair, or any of the Finance Committee members.


Lock-in will be on February 26th from 6 p.m. – February 27th at 8 a.m.

Our checkbook balance was $3,526.35. We collected $66.90, making our new total $3,593.25.

Youth News

The next Youth meeting will be February 5th.


Food Pantry

- Mary Lou


Food Pantry Wish List: soups, mac & cheese, baked beans, tuna, jam & jellies, juice, cereal.

- Mary Lou

Looking Ahead

February 2nd: Youth Center meeting at Faith UMC at 5:30 p.m.

Fellowship & Outreach


On February 19th there will be a dish to pass after church with a Valentine’s fun time. Hope you can stay and join us for the fun and good food.

- Mary Lou

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February 2nd: Rehearsals begin for the Palm Sunday Community Cantata Choir. Rehearsals will be at the North Rose United Methodist Church on Thursday evenings

from 7:30-8:30 PM. For more info contact Lucinda Collier at 587-2224;

February 6th: Blood Drive at Faith UMC from 2-7 p.m.
February 19th: Dish to pass after church with a Valentine’s fun time. March 3rd: World Day of Prayer

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