Sandy Spring Friends have recognized that the tenure of quiet peace and fellowship enjoyed by those present on our Meeting House grounds has been undercut by the forceful current of financial unrest that has enveloped our country. At Eleventh Month Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, the Finance Committee proposed a new budget which came about after reviewing historical data for the Meeting, trends in revenues and expenses, specific needs identified by Committees and others, and patterns in giving.
The 2010 budget was hard to prepare because our generosity has built a structural deficit into our finances. It is evident that our vision of who we are as expressed by what we pay out has exceeded what we have funded through contributions. In 2008, the gap between expenditures and revenue was $20,095.00 and for the 2009 budget that gap was projected to be approximately $22,600.00 at Eleventh Month Meeting for Business. As things turned out, we ended the 2009 budget year with a slight surplus due to a last minute splurge of contributions. Unfortunately, as mentioned, the 2008 budget did result in a deficit that had to be zeroed out by withdrawing monies from unrestricted reserves in early 2009.
The 2010 budget is expected to result in a deficit based on past patterns of giving and because (in addition to pressure created by the ongoing Great Recession) our members are giving generously to fund our proposed (and muchneeded) new Religious Education Building and to fund repairs to our existing (and much-aged) physical plant of buildings. Among the options proposed by the Finance Committee are (1) to reduce dramatically our support for staff, committees and community activities to match budgeted expenditures to recent giving performance; (2) to encourage giving more aggressively because about half of our members and attenders do not give; and (3) to use our Unrestricted Reserves Fund to fund any budget gap. The budget proposed by the Finance Committee emphasizes the second option while reserving the right to go back to the other two options as the 2010 budget year progresses.
Trustees reported, with the approval of the Meeting, changes to the design for our new community campus which would involve moving the School House to its original location directly behind the Community House and moving the proposed Religious Education Building to a location nearer to both the Community House and the School House. The remodeled School House would have a large finished basement and the new R.E. Building would be remodeled to become more multi-purpose. The redesign would eliminate the need for an additional building for dining/kitchen purposes but it also means that we will not be able to return the Community House to its late nineteenth century contours and that we will have to tear down the 1960 classroom addition to the Community House before moving the School House and before construction of the new R.E. building can begin – and that means that we will have to scramble for Sunday School space for a certain period of time. The demolition of the 1960 addition is anticipated to begin this summer.
For the first time in our collective memory, our annual Christmas pageant was cancelled due to a heavy snowfall. Our members and attenders (not to mention our children) were all greatly disappointed because the Christmas pageant (which features live animals and music in addition to a reenactment of the nativity scene) is a traditional winter highlight.
This fall, we bid a sad farewell to Ken Smith, who ably and well served as head of Sandy Spring Friends School for the last dozen years. In his final annual report to the Meeting, Ken said, “Whatever else I might say today, the most important message that I want to convey this morning is my gratitude to so many of you, personally and certainly, the same applies to the Meeting as a whole … You will all be missed. So many memories. Thank you.” At the following Meeting for Business, Friends were pleased to learn that Thomas R. Gibian has been appointed to serve as the next Head of School. Tom grew up in Sandy Spring, is a member of our Meeting and his wife, Tina, is a graduate of Sandy Spring Friends School. Tom shared this message with our community: “I do not know of anything more important that I can do over the next ten or so years than to draft a vision of what the School can become and to lead it to reach its full potential.”
Our Meeting announced a minute of appreciation for Jim MacPherson, our immediately preceding former Presiding Clerk. The minute reads, in part, “Your leadership provided opportunities for members and attenders to gain greater understandings of how the Quaker process can help a Meeting work through issues to a place of unity. When our Meeting was working with a disruptive member, your guidance provided a safe and grounded place for business to be conducted. Your leadership demonstrated that Quaker practice can serve as a light to lead us through the most challenging of situations.”