Sunday, October 18, 2015 - Stewardship - Craig Weinrich
The congregation responded in unison, "Let us crawl, Preacher. Let us crawl."
Then the preacher said, "We have to walk before we can jog."
"We have to walk, Preacher, then. Let us walk," came the reply.
"Let us jog, Preacher. Let us jog," they answered.
- living as transgender person;
- end-of-life planning;
- financial stewardship of the church and our upcoming mortgage decision;
- bible study questions that we all ask of God, but don't alway hear the answer to;
- and how to keep our bucket full and overflowing?
- You can volunteer your time to tutor the Ragaswore's children (and we did!);
- You can use your muscles to move a family's belongings to a safe place (and we did!);
- You can create an outdoor worship space for anyone to get closer to God through nature (and we did!);
- You can assemble backpacks for youth (and we did!);
- You can walk, jog, or run a few laps with the Angry Dads to raise money and awareness for one child's fight against ALD (and we did!);
- You can volunteer your time to feed the hungry at both Trenton and Fleming Food Pantry (and we did!);
- You can give a little extra money to send nets to Africa to prevent the spread of malaria (and we did!).
Sunday, September 20, 2015 - Tom Kull. Topic 2016 Balloon Mortgage
You should have received a handout that I will refer to during this temple talk. If you do not have one, please raise your hand and you will receive one.
Living Waters was approved for a 7 year loan by the Mission Investment Fund in March 2009 with refinancing scheduled for early 2016. The interest rate for our congregation’s first loan is 3% with a special amortization schedule that provides for more principal being paid than with a traditional mortgage. In August 2010, the interest only construction loan converted to a $1,062,000 mortgage with a $7,341 monthly payment. Our current mortgage balance is about $750,000.
At the December 6 annual meeting, the Living Waters congregation will be asked to approve a traditional mortgage agreement for the anticipated March 2016 balance of $724,000.
This temple talk is the beginning of the information sharing process related to our mortgage options. Throughout the process please give the congregation leadership feedback as we approach this important decision.
The top chart on the first page of the handout shows our deficits from 2011 to 2014 and the projected 2015 deficit. The sale of our parsonage in 2012 provided funds to cover those deficits. The bottom chart shows how the parsonage fund has been reduced to cover the deficits and how the mortgage balance has been reduced over the same period. The goal of the parsonage fund as approved by the congregation is to provide up to $200,000 to help the congregation grow into the $88,000 annual mortgage and keep at least $100,000 for a reserve fund.
The top half of the second page shows Living Waters’ growth in income and expenses over the 6 years since the congregation voted to start construction. Because of some one-time giving in 2014, our deficit may be more in 2015 than 2014. I have previously predicted a 2017 breakeven but I will not be disappointed if breakeven happens in 2016.
You may be asking the following about our refinancing:
1) Who is the Mission Investment Fund? This is an ELCA resource that makes loans to congregations for new construction, expansions and renovations.
2) Will the Mission Investment Fund refinance our mortgage? Yes and without any refinancing fees.
3) What are our mortgage options? We have many options ranging from a 15 year variable rate mortgage that would reduce our monthly payment to a 7 year fixed rate mortgage that would increase our monthly payment. The three 10 year mortgage options on the bottom of the second page are examples being considered based on discussions with MIF and supported by the Congregation Council and Long Range Planning team that keep ours annual mortgage payment in the $88,000 range. The rates shown should be close to what MIF will offer in January and for the adjustable rate options, the 6% assumption should be conservative. The congregational council will bring a refinancing recommendation to the annual meeting for a congregational vote.
4) Why 10 years? For a growing congregation that builds their first building, a building expansion is often needed in 15 to 20 years. A 10 year mortgage extension would eliminate our debt in 17 years from the start of construction. Continuing an annual $88,000 mortgage payment appears to give Living Waters the most flexibility for future ministry decisions.
5) Can the mortgage be paid off early? Yes without penalty.
6) Could we refinance if a building expansion is needed before paying off the current mortgage? Yes. Our most immediate need is expanded parking and there may be ways to finance that from the Parsonage Fund. We could also consider a capital campaign related to any expansion.
In addition to the Adult forum next Sunday, our congregation will have more than 2 months to discuss our plans for refinancing our mortgage prior to voting at the December 6th annual meeting.
If you cannot attend the Adult forum next Sunday, you can contact me or other member of the finance committee for continued discussions. A brief commercial, membership on the finance committee is open to anyone. Our next meeting is Monday, 9/28 at 7 PM.
Thank you for allowing me to share this information with you and I look forward to next Sunday’s adult forum and more discussion.
Sunday, May 3, 2015 - Cindy Cooper
From the beginning, Living Waters has always been a place where service was an important part of its ministry. Having been a Lutheran all my life, I don’t remember my former churches being so service oriented. Maybe I just don’t remember, maybe it is because I am older and what is important to me has shifted. I’m not sure, but I do know that over the years, faith changes. It sounds so cliché, but faith is a journey.
My faith, having to explain it, became real to me when I had children. The same questions all parents face: Why does God let bad things happen? How do you know there is a God..you can’t see God? My answer to all these questions is to ask Pastor Lee. J But the one that sticks with me is that we can’t see God, we really don’t know he is there. It is because of that, that service is so important to me. I want my kids to be part of a community that cares about other people. My hope is that as they grow and mature in their lives and in their faith, they will connect God’s love, grace and mercy with taking care of others. I want them to understand that it is through us that God does God’s work. Moving a family with family promise, or serving a meal at Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, spending a summer week in Detroit..are a few examples of Gods work.
Appreciating all the gifts we have…everything…and taking that appreciation and passing it to others, is what I believe God calls us to do. For me its service..for others it might be singing in the choir, or reading on Sundays, or acolyting, or cleaning the church. God gives us all talents, gifts and interests. It’s when we share them, then it brings it full circle.
Sunday, October 12, 2014 - Kathy Wolfman
So, what's your time worth? $10 an hour? $25 an hour? Maybe even $50 or $100 an hour? Or, perhaps your time is, as the MasterCard commercial says, "priceless." Well, in my mind, whatever time you can give to volunteering at Living Waters is priceless.
Good stewardship is about more than just money. It's about giving our time, talent and treasure. In my case, I tend to give in that order. I may not always be able to give my "treasure" as abundantly as I'd like. So, it's important to me that I donate my time and talent as often as I'm able.
Part of the time I give to Living Waters is as a member of the church council. I first got wrangled into this position not long after I joined Living Waters about 15 years ago. Terry Welsh's wife, Amy, pulled me aside and asked if I would fill her position on the council after she fulfilled her three-year term that January. She said it would be easy. She was mostly right.
I've been on and off the church council ever since, fulfilling my two consecutive three-year terms, then happy it was over, and then soon I'd realize I missed being part of it, so I'd reup yet again. It's a vicious cycle.
Sure, being a council member means committing one evening a month to attend an always lively – although occasionally draining – meeting. And it means taking responsibility for a particular service area of the congregation; in my case, I share "Communications" with Terry. But it also means sharing my ideas, my talents, and my time to help keep Living Waters thriving.
In addition to my role on council, I also head up our "Inside The Artist's Studio" program. This program, which we now hold quarterly, was started by a former Living Waters member named Jan Peters. For those of you who didn't get a chance to know Jan or her husband, Les, before they moved to California a few years ago, all you need to know is that they REALLY donated a lot of their time to Living Waters. Jan played the piano and helped lead the music program among many other things; and Les was so active, when my son was very young, he referred to Les as "the other pastor."
When Jan left Living Waters, it took many of us to fill her shoes. I filled the shoe that was the "Artist's Studio." In this role, I find musicians or artists who would like to share their talents and discuss the inspirations behind what they do. We were fortunate to have our own Ted Green show off his pottery skills at the "Artist's Studio" program last month (I'm sorry I had to miss it!). And, save the date for our next "Artist's Studio" on Sunday, November 16, at 6 p.m., when we'll be hosting an amazing photographer named Arik Gorban (who happens to be a friend of Bob Chilcoat).
I also design the poster for the "Artist's Studio" and write the press release for it. Since my day job is as a writer and editor, I also write the press releases for most of the events held here at Living Waters.
Of course, many people in our congregation give much more of their time than I do. I do feel guilty when I don't sign up for the cleaning crew or participate in many of the other activities needed to keep the church and our building going. I'll just have to pray about that a little more. And, I ask all of you to pray about giving your time to Living Waters.
Sunday, October 5, 2014 - Craig Weinrich
I love the fall. The crisp nights, the changing leaves, Apple cider, football, and the World Series. As some of you know, I work in the nonprofit sector, and November and December also means the giving season. When most fundraising appeals are mailed to capitalize on the generosity the fall season usually engenders.
On Wednesday, I met with some emerging philanthropic leaders and we discussed our own personal philanthropy. It was encouraging to hear that all these leaders had been taught through the church to give back. We each saw our parents offer their gifts each week, including those of us whose mom would slowly and not so delicately tear the checks out of her checkbook during the sermon!
Not so long ago, there were not professionals in philanthropy - people that gave away money (and not their own!) for their job. Philanthropy has become more pronounced in the public’s conscience...and it's not just those very wealthy individuals that have pledged to give away their vast fortunes that are making headlines! How many of you took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge?
[Ask someone who did] Which was worse? Giving the $100 or getting the bucket of ice cold water dumped on your head? Was there any risk in it?
Is there normally risk in giving? We usually think of giving from our excess wealth or materials. Is it possible to change this thinking? After all, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth from a formless void. He gave us us, and the heavens and the earth. We try to follow God’s example, be it through our first fruits or the saving the last for the poor. Whichever way, we give thanks, because God gave us life, and even more importantly, he gave his only son who died for all our sins. How awesome is that?
And how risky was that? What if we rejected Jesus? Would he have given his life for us? How would God have felt? An interesting theological question to ponder.
Risk is not something that we think of everyday. Pastor Thurston said in her sermon last week, that we often do what is comfortable, and we ask God to guide us and lead us. But sometimes life is not easy.
Last year was not an easy one for me. I was laid off twice, and during my second stint on unemployment, the house I was renting was sold, and I needed to move out. So I was unemployed and homeless. Fortunately, my sister and her family housed me in my time of need. Never did I think that I would be in the position of the widow who gave two copper coins that Luke and Mark documented in the Gospels.
But during Giving Tuesday (an ironic movement to re-focus American's attention on giving rather than commercialism after the Thanksgiving holiday), I took a risk and donated the most money I have ever done on one day than I ever before, when I was not comfortable financially. Despite my situation, there were others that could use the help.
It’s not comfortable and even risky for us to talk about money. Look at the passions that were stirred during our recent conversation about the possible cell tower. And the discomfort is centuries old: Luther himself agonized over the sale of indulgences by another friar, Johann Tetzel.
Yet, every year, we must make a budget for Living Waters, so we can plan out how we will continue and grow to be a renewed and renewing Christian community reflecting God’s love, grace, mercy, justice and peace in all the world. So, we begin this week to emphasize our stewardship and growth, both individually and as a congregation.
Over the next two months, you’ll hear from others congregation members about how they are fearless in their generosity. Yes, it does mean talking about money, but also about our time and our talents.
It’s not comfortable. It’s not easy. But is it worth the risk? Yes, I believe it is. This building is a testament to that. And more importantly, this family that grows together in faith is testament to that as well.
Stewardship Temple Talk by Tom Kull
Debt as part of a Financial Plan
Last stewardship season I discussed the need for a budget both for our families and for Living Waters. This year, I would like to discuss how debt fits into a financial plan.
Some can live their lives without debt.
Most have/need/want debt to be part of achieving personal goals and financial goals.
If you recall from last year, I defined a budget as a road map to achieving goals. (check on this)
In the ideal world, we would save the money needed to purchase everything we need including big ticket items like a car, a home, a college education, etc.
In the real world an installment purchase is an acceptable way to borrow to purchase “large items” rather than wait to save the cash for a one time purchase or use our rainy day funds for the large purchase.
When we borrow money – from a friend, from a family member, from a bank or from some other source, we should have a plan to pay back the money we borrowed. Payback plans – are like all plans – something we hope happens as planned but we need to be on the look out for bumps in the road. As with a budget, not every plan works the way we want it do. In both cases – borrowing and budgets – we can make adjustments. The bigger challenge with adjustments to debt payments is we have signed papers legally obligating us to make regular payments.
In most guides to financial planning, there is a discussion of good debt (or borrowing) and of bad debt. Not being able to afford the monthly payment is bad debt. Paying 18% on credit card debt is mostly bad debt – exception would be a critical short term loan and then refinancing or paying off in less than 3 months. Obtaining a 3.5% mortgage or home equity loan can be good debt if the monthly payment fits your personal budget. In general, good debt carries a low interest rate and a monthly payment that fits your budget or financial plan.
As you regularly review your financial plan, review your current debt or anticipated debt. Does the monthly payment fit within your financial plan? Have your explored all of the options to lower the interest rate and/or your monthly payment on your debt? Do you have a rainy day fund that can help make payments when life throws you a curve ball? Are you ready to celebrate when the loan is paid off?
Living Waters has debt.
Living Watters borrowed $1,060,000 in May 2010 to pay off the construction loan for our church building. The Mission Investment Fund of the ELCA made the loan at a special term for new congregations’ first building – 3% for the first 7 years and an adjusted rate for the remaining 8 years of the 15 year loan.
Living Waters built this church building with the faith that the congregation would grow into the $7,341 monthly mortgage payment. (it is not recommended to use “faith borrowing” for personal loans)
Is this good debt or bad debt? Right now the answer would be a little of both. Good -interest rate. Bad - not making monthly mortgage payments for regular giving.
The annual mortgage commitment of $8x,xxx accounts for about 40% of Living Waters’ budget. This annual expenditure will remain the same until 2016. To make our mortgage payments, our congregation voted this year to sell its parsonage and to use the cash obtained from the sale to make the mortgage payments. Living Waters expects to tap into the proceeds received from the sale of the parsonage for $54,000 in 2012 to pay the mortgage and $40,000 in 2013 for mortgage payments.
As Living Waters members continue to give generously and Living Waters’ congregation continues to grow, I expect that Living Waters will debt will become good debt and our congregation will celebrate paying off the loan before the current maturity in 2024.
This year along with discussions during Adult Forum and Temple Talks following worship, we thought we would also try to post some of the weekly presentations on the internet, using either the website and/or Facebook page. On our Facebook page, you'll be able to post YOUR thoughts in the Discussions feature on the left side of the page, the only little hitch is that you need a Facebook account to do this. If you don't and would like to chime in, you may e-mail your thoughts to the Webmaster who will do the posting for you. We will also try to video most of the presentations for those who could not attend all the programs.
Documents; Pledge Cards, Time & Talent Sheets and Simply Giving forms found on the Downloads Page
Understanding Issues of Personal Finance
I am going to touch the very tip of the topic called Personal Finance.
One definition of personal finance is a dynamic process that requires regular monitoring and revaluation. There is a five step process included in comments below.
Another definition is a one word definition – budgeting – again, more detailed comments follow.
The most common definition of Budgeting is an estimate, often itemized, of expected income and expense for a given period in the future.
A broader definition would be – estimating how best to use your time, non-financial and financial resources.
If you think about how to spend your free time, think about how you use your skills outside of your regular job. Also, if you think about how you spend money you are likely making decisions that relate to budgeting your time and your non-financial recourses as well.
A quick example, do I take my time to plant a garden so I do not have to buy vegetables for the summer or do I take that time to coach a youth softball game and spend money to buy vegetables.
Let’s take a look at the first document with what is listed but what could be added if we take the broader definition:
Personal Finance Definition
Personal finance is the application of the principles of finance to the monetary decisions of an individual or family unit. It addresses the ways in which individuals or families obtain, budget, save, and spend monetary resources over time, taking into account various financial risks and future life events. Components of personal finance might include checking and savings accounts, credit cards and consumer loans, investments in the stock market, retirement plans, social security benefits, insurance policies, and income tax management.
A key component of personal finance is financial planning, a dynamic process that requires regular monitoring and reevaluation. In general, it has five steps:
1. Assessment: One's personal financial situation can be assessed by compiling simplified versions of financial balance sheets and income statements. A personal balance sheet lists the values of personal assets (e.g., car, house, clothes, stocks, bank account), along with personal liabilities (e.g., credit card debt, bank loan, mortgage). A personal income statement lists personal income and expenses.
Assessment of time
Assessment of talents
2. Setting goals: Two examples are "retire at age 65 with a personal net worth of $200,000" and "buy a house in 3 years paying a monthly mortgage servicing cost that is no more than 25% of my gross income". It is not uncommon to have several goals, some short term and some long term. Setting financial goals helps direct financial planning.
Goals for Time
Goals for Talents
3. Creating a plan: The financial plan details how to accomplish your goals. It could include, for example, reducing unnecessary expenses, increasing one's employment income, or investing in the stock market.
Plan for Time
Plan of Talents
4. Execution: Execution of one's personal financial plan often requires discipline and perseverance. Many people obtain assistance from professionals such as accountants, financial planners, investment advisers, and lawyers.
Execution of Time
Execution of Talents
5. Monitoring and reassessment: As time passes, one's personal financial plan must be monitored for possible adjustments or reassessments.
Monitoring and reassessment of Time
Monitoring and reassessment of Talents
Typical goals most adults have are paying off credit card and or student loan debt, retirement, college costs for children, medical expenses, and estate planning.
budg·et, [buhj-it] noun, adjective, verb, -et·ed, -et·ing.
1. An estimate, often itemized, of expected income and expense for a given period in the future.
2. A plan of operations based on such an estimate.
3. An itemized allotment of funds, time, etc., for a given period.
4. The total sum of money set aside or needed for a purpose: the construction budget.
5. A limited stock or supply of something: his budget of goodwill.
To many doing a budget is an overwhelming task and most of the time we focus solely on the number – what I/we earn needs to be equal to or more than what I we spend. When you love to work with numbers like I do, a money budget is fun to put together. When the thought of balancing a check book brings anxiety, doing a money budget is a task easily avoided.
If you are anxious about doing a budget – refer back to our first definition – it is an estimate which means that it is not a set of handcuffs. Any budget must have flexibility to deal with the unexpected. The flexibility is to change how one uses her/his time, non-financial resources and financial resources. An unexpected expenditure for car repairs might be offset by cutting back on expenses or finding some way to supplement income. An unexpected gift might mean taking time to share part of that gift. A drop in gas prices or a warmer winter may mean increasing savings for retirement, saving more for a child’s education or sharing some of the surplus.
Church budgets often break the rule of budgeting – anticipated income equaling anticipated expenditures. Faith that the ministry will grow in giving throughout the year has lead to budgets that have income from growing the membership.
Because there are rainy days individuals/families/and churches, it is a good practice to save at least 3 months of income and ideally one should have a year’s income in savings. Very aggressive goals when one is challenged to have income and expenses match each month. If your work has direct deposit of your pay check – would you miss $10 a month that went to a money market account (yes I know interest rates are low – other options are a topic for other discussion – but if you treat that savings the same as one of your “fun expenditures” you would be surprised how quickly the savings adds up. A quick way that I save for vacation is each evening I put all my change into a large bottle – when vacation comes, I count the money and take it to the bank – I can save over $200 a year doing this.
If you find yourself asking where to begin with learning proper finance, start with the definition of personal finance, budgeting. Why the definition of personal finance is budgeting we will outline in the following article, because truly there is no more important lesson as to what proper financial management entails, and what will most directly contribute to your success with your money.
Proper Budgeting is Personal Finance Mastery
There is no need to look beyond budgeting when beginning your journey towards personal finance mastery. Budgeting can be a scary prospect when you have not done so for a long time, the money tale told by your expenses and income can paint a poor picture. But whether you are a millionaire with investments, countless loans, mortgages and stock holdings, or an honest hardworking fellow just beginning your financial journey, budgeting is the key to continued success with your money.
Proper personal finance budgeting allows you to account for what monies you have coming in and what monies you have flowing out of your accounts. Mastery of your finances, no matter your level of income is a matter of using this information to make decisions that increase the money you have coming in each month, and decrease the flow of cash you have leaving your possession. If you choose to achieve this through additional investments, decreasing interest rates with consolidation loans or a job promotion the basics of personal finance budgeting remains the same.
Proper managing of one's debt, income and expenses is the soul of managing your money and that is why the definition of personal finance is budgeting. There is no need to get more complicated than this, with your credit cards, payday loans, investments and stock options, you will find yourself on a sound financial footing if you keep a detailed budget, follow your money, and ensure that you spend less than you earn each and every month.
To properly budget your personal finances you simply add up your sources of income, account for every penny that you have flowing to you each month, and track every expense. I am not concerned with the exact system you employ as long as you are detailed and know how your money is flowing. Track your loans, and if you have bad credit lenders, know how much you are spending in interest. Track your credit cards and what amount of your payments applies to principle and what cash goes towards interest. Make knowing your finances your business and when you have an accurate picture of the flow of your money, then work to improve your finances.
Most mistakes of personal finance are made because honest, hardworking people have an unclear, or foggy idea of how their money is spent from month to month. With a little attention to the details of your cash flow you will find that there are countless ways to save additional money, and increase your income. Keep a focus on the basics of personal finance and never forget that the definition of personal finance is budgeting. You too can start making a profit today.
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With a focus on Money, a good practice is some type of worksheet – see the examples from Thriven Financial for Lutherans. (Copies of this material is available at church)
I love working with numbers. In the early years of our marriage, Maggie and I wanted to track everything we spent. Now this is the day before personal computers so I tracked everything by hand. Today, excel or something like or personal finance programs like Quicken make it very easy to track savings, income and expenditures.
Our electronic or wall calendar is how we track how we spend our time at work and at home. That is the tool that we use when we want to change how we spend our time.
I am not aware of a tool for telling us how to use our talents but we sure have talents to use. Sometimes we underestimate the talents we have. Be bold and volunteer (but make sure it ties into your managing your time)
Temple Talk by Chris Kosmac
Six years ago this month, with Terry standing by my side for support, I announced to this congregation that I had breast cancer. Terry had done my ultrasound and was a huge comfort and support for me during my diagnosis and answering my countless questions.
From the moment I made my announcement, I felt supported and embraced and loved. For the next year or so, I came to church for purely selfish reasons. I came for the hugs, and the comments that my wig looked so real, and the compliments of how well I looked or how strong I was. People visited me, cooked for my family and prayed for me. The love and support I got each Sunday morning renewed my strength to continue my battle. My doctors cured my body while the people here fed my spirit. To me that’s what LW means…the faith here was strong enough to carry me, until I was strong enough to have my own again.
My experience taught me that there are times you need to be fed and there are times when you can feed others. I used to panic whenever someone told me they were facing a crisis. I never knew what to say. The day that Amy called me panicked about the lump she had found, I found myself wanting to panic right along with her, but faith simply took over. I don’t even remember the words I said, but she has told me it was a great help just to talk to me and hear my reassurance that she could face this challenge and she would be surrounded by great people who would help and support her each step of the way. When you are going through cancer it is a great gift to hear others tell you they survived.
Very few of us can be here every Sunday, but we come back from other places to this center and share our experiences. Stewardship is more than your time and your money, it’s also about your thoughtfulness and willingness to share your experiences and your faith. We share ideas from other churches by bringing back a bulletin, or using their ideas for an Advent craft, or a recipe for Christmas cookies. We hear of family members in the military and send them letters of support and care packages because we know the experience of being away from family. We share our ability of yard work, cleaning, teaching Sunday school, playing an instrument or serving on a committee because we’ve experienced how a small task can be a huge help. We offer to listen to someone who is going through a difficult time because we know how much it meant when we felt listened to. We pray for people we will never meet because we know how much comfort someone’s prayers brought us. We share the peace and never know how much that hand shake or hug may have just fed the soul of another member.