Brothers and Sisters,
As we continue to progress through this time of repentance and renewal, I want you to know that your concerns are being heard, taken seriously, and addressed as quickly as possible. I am committed to creating an environment of unity, trust and openness in regard to the finances of the St. Louis Church. In this letter, I want to briefly make you aware of the following changes that have, and will occur in regard to the finances of the church. Please let me know if you would like to discuss any of these items in more detail.
An oversight group or Board will exist that will have review, scrutiny and approval authority of all budget line items, including employee salaries. This group will be reflective of the church. The final authority on all financial decisions will reside with this group, not any person or organization outside of this church.
We will publish the weekly contribution and HOPE offering amounts collected on the announcement sheet.
We will generate quarterly budget reports to be distributed to the congregation that will detail all income and expenses of the church for that quarter.
The negotiation of Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance may be decentralized from LA to the local level. This may actually create an increase in costs to the local churches.
There has been a significant decrease in requested Special Mission's funds for 2003. More details to come.
Special Mission's will be a free will offering. There will be no expected multiple, pledges, dry-runs or tracking of individual giving beyond what is required for IRS guidelines.
I have requested information on how to wire Special Mission's funds from St. Louis directly to Russia, and not use the Northern Federation or the Great Plains as a pass through account. Understand that there may be legal challenges and significant fees involved in transferring the funds ourselves.
Significant numbers of personnel layoffs have occurred within the Administrative sector of the ICOC in Los Angeles. These layoffs began as early as December 2002 and have been implemented primarily to ease and eliminate financial burdens to the local churches.
Monthly administrative commitments that were previously being sent to the ICOC have ceased. This amount dropped from $2250 per month in calendar year 2002, to $700 per month beginning January 2003. As of March 1, 2003, this monthly commitment has been totally eliminated. This monthly commitment primarily covered the overhead costs (including salaries) of the employees that (1) managed Insurance and Benefits for all employees in the ICOC (2) provided legal counsel and support for the Churches, and (3) produced and distributed KNN. All U.S. Churches paid a portion of this overall cost based on a percentage of their average weekly giving from the month of August of the prior year.
Historically, through a monthly commitment, the local churches have also supported the central operations and overhead costs of the home office of HOPE Worldwide, based in Philadelphia. The commitment amount paid by St. Louis was about $2300 per month. A representative group of Evangelists in the Great Plains recently decided to draft a letter to send to HOPE Worldwide informing them that we would no longer support an imposed monthly amount, but would instead treat this as a free will offering. Historically, if we did not collect enough funds in our HOPE offering to cover the monthly commitment, we would use funds from our operating account to make up the difference. We will no longer do this. Beginning in March 2003, whatever amount is collected in the monthly HOPE offering is what will be sent to HOPE Worldwide.
In January 2003, the St. Louis Church Board of Directors voted to establish a building fund. That fund currently has $21,952 dollars in it. This money, and any other funds added to this account will only be used for the purposes of purchasing a church building.
I will keep you informed as more changes occur and decisions are made. I will also be discussing more financial matters at upcoming midweek services. Please continue to keep me and the finances of the church in your prayers.
Jeff Lamotte, Church Administrator