I have a pain in the neck - and it's not even Ole!!
Since retirement Ole and I have become quite active in church. He's a trustee and I'm a member of the council. At this point I'm not sure this is a good thing as our church has huge financial problems. I won't go into all the boring details other than to say we have staff that is too highly compensated and the previous council didn't take care of things the way they should have. We have a membership of just over 300 folks with a DCE that makes more than the minister. The DCE's salary and the secretary's salary add up to 67% of our total annual budget. It's hard to keep the lights and the heat on in the winter time under those circumstances.
Part of the problem, up until two years ago, was that the secretary's husband was the president of the council and her son was an elder. At the last meeting of the year where her husband was president, before he stepped down from office, he pushed through a $6,000 a year raise for his wife. She only works 4 days a week, 8:30 to 4:00 - or is SUPPOSED to work those hours. Of course he had his little toadies all lined up ahead of time to make the motion and second it immediately that this would pass. He did the same thing for the DCE only the raise was bigger. By the way, both of these positions include huge benefit packages $$$$$!!
Four years ago, when our new minister came, he didn't want to live in the church furnished parsonage so we sold it to the tune of $385,000. There was acreage that went along with this house as it's out in the country in a beautiful setting. Spending has been out of control for so long that by this time all of our savings had been used up and instead of investing the income from the parsonage the council at that time decided to use that money to keep the church's head above water. Due to over compensated people and champagne taste with a beer income, the church has $25,000 of that $385,000 left. At the current rate of spending the council figured they could keep the doors open possibly another 6 months, so maybe it was time to do something!! Gee, do ya think?
Last fall Ole was asked to be on the budget & finance committee. Gee, didn't I promise I wasn't going to go into all the details? I lied!!
Anyway, he went around the community and visited 7 other churches about our size. They shared their financial information with him and of those 7 churches we were the only one that had a paid full-time DCE and a paid secretary, both with huge benefit packages.
To make a long story short, (ha, ha) the only way to come up with a balanced budget - one that will match the giving income that we have - is to cut the hours and salaries of the DCE's position and the secretary's position. The secretary got mad and quit and the DCE negotiated and is now working 20 hours a week and currently making a salary of $47,000. Can you imagine that for a 20 hour week? The committee has budgeted so much money for the DCE's annual salary and have told him that when it's gone - it's gone and he won't get a pay check. We have no other choice because there's no money left - unfortunately instead of being understanding about it he's being a real a- -! He's certainly not practicing the christian values that he's been preaching for so long, and in fact, stood up in front of everyone at one voter's meeting and yelled at everyone that they were a "faithless bunch of no goods!"
Anyway - back to where I started. I have a pain in the neck. I went to the last council meeting and came out of it with such a terrible headache I felt like my eyeballs were going to fall out of my head. That was three weeks ago. I still have the headache. Yes - I've had my blood pressure checked and it's fine. I think I just have so much stress in my neck and it's so tight right now that I can't get rid of the headache. I've been to the chiropractor several times and he's gotten my neck and upper back to move. It feels okay for a day or so and then I'm right back to square one.
This is no fun. I know - I take things far to seriously - but that's just me. Politics and church are not a good mix. Unfortunately there's way too much of it at least in this church.