The new Church Governance provides oversight for six committees, to whom some of the Board’s work is committed: Finance, Pastor Parish Relations, Property Stewardship, Outreach Center, Investment, and Nominations. Please check back here updates on the focus of each of those committees to date.
The Finance Committee is charged with providing strategic oversight of congregational finances, including assistance in development and monitoring of the Annual Operating Plan (AOP) for the Governing Board to ensure that the church stays on track in fulfilling its missional goals and vision. Although management authority and participation in day-to-day financial decision-making resides with the Finance Team the Finance Committee may establish annual goals for and provide direction to staff and the Finance Team.
As this is a new role/function within church governance most of the year has been devoted to digesting information and data on the financial operations and current financial policies and procedures from various sources including the Church Administrator and the chair of the Investment Committee.
The Committee set the annual goal for the Finance Team to create a finance policy manual to reflect current financial policies and procedures and limits of authority in a centralized and comprehensive but easily referenced document. The Committee supported the addition of an incremental Financial Administrator (FA) to the Finance Team to assist in generating informative monthly and annual financial reports and data analysis for reporting to the Committee and church leadership.
To that end the new FA has researched data across a five-year period that will help inform fiscal policy during fluctuations in funding levels. Ahead of the full financial audit scheduled for this year, the Committee met with a representative of the firm chosen by RFP to review the proposed scope of services and audit approach. As with past results of full audits and yearly informational audits the Committee anticipates this year’s audit to confirm that current policies and procedures follow adequate internal controls and financial statements do a good job in representing the financial position of the church.
The Pastor Parish Relations Committee (PPRC) is the successor committee to the committee that was previously known as the Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC). As a standing Governance Board committee, the PPRC assists the Board in developing employee policies, liaising with bishops on clergy and pastor evaluations, ensuring compliance with applicable laws, and carrying the staff grievance process as defined by the Governance Board policies. The PPRC has no staff management authority and does not participate in supervision of staff or staff decision-making. The PPRC’s role and functions are guided by The Book of Discipline.
The PPRC was asked to provide feedback for each of the Asbury First ministers based upon PPRC members’ interactions with each of the ministers, input from congregants who had been known to interface with the ministers through church activities, and observations from church leadership. The PPRC Chair, along with Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady, met with each of the ministers to provide that feedback and to better understand what kind of support each minister felt would enhance his/her abilities to better discharge their duties.
The PPRC explored in depth the opportunity that was presented to Asbury First to pilot Rev. Rachel Ann Dupont’s Discipleship Project and provided its endorsement to the Governing Board for the project, along with Rev. Dupont’s appointment, if the Governing Board would be able to provide the resources to support the project.
With Rev. Jaqcueline Nelson’s resignation from her full-time role as Minister for Outreach, the PPRC will be working closely with Rev. Dr. Cady and the Governing Board in the development of an appropriate staffing strategy that will meet the needs for the new Outreach Center and other church activities in alignment with AFUMC’s stated mission and vision.
The PPRC continues its wholehearted support of Michael Mullin in his career aspirations for the ministry in the UMC.
Since there have been continual salary/benefits freezes for the ministers over several years as part of the church budgetary process, it appears to be highly unlikely that the salaries and benefits for the current ministers have been comparable to those of other Methodist congregations of similar size to Asbury First. Consequently, the PPRC is in the midst of conducting a benchmarking survey with regional and other US Methodist churches of a similar size as Asbury First and also of other Protestant denominations to better gauge what might be a need for future salary/benefits adjustments.
The Property Stewardship Committee (PSC) is charged with managing the physical assets of Asbury First in such a way that these assets are preserved, maintained, and enhanced in support of the total ministry of the church. Physical assets include the buildings and everything in them such as furniture, equipment, etc. The PSC creates, manages and maintains a comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) which identifies and prioritizes expected projects. The CIP looks out a minimum of five years, and is presented to and approved by the Governing Board annually. All changes to church property must be approved by the PSC.
The PSC manages the Capital Improvement Fund to pay for on-going capital improvement needs and the prioritized items in the Capital Improvement Plan. Each year a small percentage of the church budget goes toward capital improvement, and is held in this fund. The PSC also oversees the church’s insurance needs and acts as the Building Committee for the Better Together projects. We look forward to managing the 1010 Outreach Center project.
2022 has been a very busy year for Property Stewardship! Our committee acts as the Building Committee and has overseen the construction project at 1010. In addition to that, we have managed several projects on campus including replacing the boiler in 1050 and replacing outdated Boiler Controls in the Education Wing. We also began to set money aside for the eventual replacement of the Education Wing windows, and started research into the best replacement options. On the short term horizon is replacement of the storm sewers in the main parking lot, which are original to the building, and have started to form dangerous sinkholes We will also be installing key-fob access and cameras in 1050 and the main door at 1040, as part of a campus-wide security update.
Our projects range from very large and complex such as repair/replacement of the Education Wing windows, to smaller items such as replacing outdated circuit breaker panels. Just like in your home, things sometimes fail unexpectedly and we are faced with an unplanned repair, causing our priorities to shift. With two buildings over 100 years old, and one approaching 70 years old, there is a great deal of maintenance and needed updates/upgrades.
Work of the Outreach Center Committee has been meeting monthly and has made significant progress towards it’s mission/purpose to "Feed the Hungry, Clothe the Naked, and Heal the Sick in a safe and accessible environment to both guests and volunteers.”
The Dining & Caring Center (D&CC) is now open for takeout meals and is serving breakfast Wednesday–Friday at Covenant UMC and lunch on Sundays at Asbury First. We are serving approximately 100 meals per week, including deliveries to Peace Village—Rochester’s sanctioned homeless encampment. We are also providing toiletries, clothing, and a small amount of snacks/groceries.
The Storehouse has been extremely busy, serving over 350 individuals in September and is providing the clothing being given out in the D&CC.
The Community Garden has been harvesting and providing a great deal of produce every week that is served in the Sunday meal or given away directly to guests. The garden has also been supplying other food pantries and meal programs around the city.
The UR Well Clinic continues to operate and is looking at ways to serve more patients as there is great demand.
The Grocery Bag Ministry continues to distribute groceries monthly through partnerships with other city churches and the next meeting for this ministry will be on October 23rd.
The Investment Committee is charged with setting investment policies for the Church’s endowment and restricted funds, subject to approval by the Board of Governors. It also provides oversight as outlined in the policies, including for the general endowment, twelve restricted funds, and the Better Together restricted funds. As of the end of the third quarter of 2021, $6,974,057 was held in the endowment, an aggregate of $5,556,951 was held in various restricted funds (ranging in size from $17,264 to $845,865), of which $2,236,282 was held in the Better Together capital improvement fund.
The Committee uses three investment advisors, Manning & Napier, Alesco, and Canandaigua National Bank. It receives investment reports from the advisors at each quarterly meeting and each advisor meets in person with the Committee at least twice per year. The Committee monitors advisor performance against benchmarks, and performance is near or above our benchmark targets. The portfolio continued to grow in 2021, despite withdrawals of about $602,000 (which included payment of the $150,000 Trustee pledge to the Better Together Campaign). Several years ago, the Committee established a Dreamscape Goal of an aggregate of $10,000,000 for endowment and restricted funds, and that goal has been achieved 18 months before planned. Pursuant to authority provided by the Governing Board, the Committee distributes 4.5% of the 20-quarter average balance of each fund (or the rough equivalent for newer funds) for the Annual Operating Plan, capital funds and restricted fund-designated purposes. Better Together funds are distributed as needed for work approved by the Property Stewardship Committee and Governing Board.
Over the past year the Committee has been considering adding an ESG component to our Investment Policy. ESG stands for investments that are positive from an Environment, Social, or Governance perspective. This positive focus is in addition to investments in a number of areas (such as tobacco, alcohol, and defense) already prohibited by our policy. Although ESG is still an emerging field, heavily nuanced, and without broad market acceptance of standard measurements, the Committee is interested in using our investments in an ESG-positive manner to the extent prudent. In the second quarter the Committee started requesting our advisors to report on ESG status within our portfolio on a pilot basis, using one available measurement tool. The Committee will monitor progress and performance and if pleased with the way this change is working, will make it a permanent part of our Investment Policy.
Additionally, the Committee has discussed ramifications of possible acceptance of gifts that are restricted as to how they may be invested, but has not yet reached any conclusions.
The Nominations Committee, as set forth by the Discipline, is charged with identifying individuals for nomination to the Governing Board and Board committees.
Historically this committee has done most of its work in the fall and early winter and, to date, we have been no different. We have met this fall to understand our charge, identify changes over this last year to church leadership, and to anticipate what changes will be ahead and needed in 2022. We have worked on a new section of the website that will be one means by which people can self-identify as being ready to take the next step into the life of the congregation—whether that means going deeper in their faith, becoming a member, volunteering for outreach, or expressing an interest in leadership. We hope that that new form and section of the website will be live in the next couple of weeks.
As we look forward, we hope to expand our task into a leadership development team that helps to identify those within the congregation who have particular gifts and graces for leadership within the life of the congregation.