First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church
221 North Main Street
Belvidere, IL 61008

Monday, August 27, 2012

Script #91


We have received many inquiries regarding two memorial services scheduled for later this week. 

Here is the schedule as of today; and if you have any questions, please call the church office at 815-544-6402:

John F. Kemp
Visitation at Church on Wednesday (4-8 pm)
Memorial Service at Church on Thursday (11 am)

Sara K. Williams
Visitation at Buck-Wheeler FH on Thursday (5-8 pm)
Memorial Service at Church on Friday (11 am)

Certainly, the preceding is sobering; and as we praise the Lord for the eternal life for Sara and John and beg His mercies for family and friends, we differentiate the important from the incidental with greater firmness.  I recommend clicking on for more on that.

Speaking of sobering moments, these are tight financial times in our nation, counties, communities, and churches.  As we praised God for the wherewithal to drain reserves to complete the first and biggest part of our "Blessings Campaign" with joy and anticipation and praise Him for continuing excitement, activity, expansion, and opportunity, our wherewithal for general expenses (viz., maintenance, utilities, bills, remuneration, etc.) is lagging.  For example, while we still have reserved funds to meet designated ministries, today's general fund checking account for the aforementioned is $128.78.

Surely, we trust Him to supply the resources for our life and ministry together.

However, tough decisions are being made right now.

For example, we are now micro-managing daily expenses.  No one - member, officer, or staff - is authorized to spend $ for anything unless it passes through a procedure under the review of Session; or as I told one fellah, "If you buy it apart from prior approval, be prepared to pay for it and not be reimbursed."

We are not in a panic mode.

We are doing quite well in this terribly difficult economic culture.

It's just that - despite the heroic stewardship of Carl, Dale, and Pat during the "Blessings Campaign" - there ain't much wiggle room anymore.

Surely, as our recent bathroom, playground, and pantry experiences illustrate, our family of faith is resilient, resourceful, and, most important, faithful.

Recently (8/15/12), I sent a confidential memo to our elders; and the time has come to share it with the whole family (slight editing):


    Our last Session meeting was typical of the totally
    awesome way our Lord is working through elders,
    deacons, members, and staff to be a beacon for
    Jesus and safe haven for all of His children on the
    corner of Lincoln and Main.

    Anyway, I would like to handle one item right now
    before there is any more discussion/deliberation
    on it: staff remuneration for 2013.

    Our Finance and Personnel chairdudes, echoed by
    almost everyone in attendance, lamented no increases
    in remuneration for staff for the past four years and
    expressed passion for doing something about it in

    Their comments were affirming and affectionate and
    profoundly appreciated.

    We have made two remunerative adjustments in the
    past year: a 20% increase for the DOMA at my
    recommendation as figured out by Finance/Personnel
    and 40% remunerative savings by reduction in calling
    our new CE/Youth person.  Everyone else has stayed
    the same for the past four years; which is tantamount
    to an actual decrease in remuneration juxtaposed to
    the cost of living and so on.

    As I told Session on Monday and will reiterate now, I
    have already told staff there will be no remunerative
    increases for 2013.

    Deliberations regarding an accompanist for the
    Chancel Choir and second service continue.

    Now I'm going to say something that I decided
    several months ago that I will not reconsider.

    The pastor's remuneration - terms of call - are approved
    upon recommendation of Finance/Personnel/Session by
    the congregation.  All other staff remunerative packages
    are at the prerogative of Session and not subject to
    congregational approval.  Surely, the congregation can
    comment; but Session approves and the congregation
    receives that approval.  Conversely, the Session can
    recommend and comment on my remuneration; however,
    the congregation approves the terms of call at its
    prerogative at the annual meeting to receive reports and
    the budget.  Only the congregation has the right to approve
    the terms of call.

    The preceding is important as I want to make this completely
    clear with enthusiasm and without equivocation.  Under no
    circumstances will I accept or entertain an increase to my
    remuneration (terms of call) for 2013.  I will declare any
    motions to that effect to be out of order and such a moderator's
    ruling can only be challenged and reversed by a 75% vote
    of the congregation.  Any recommendation from anyone to
    increase the pastor's remuneration, therefore, will provoke
    uncomfortable discussion.

    Parenthetically, I believe all other staff members must be
    treated equally because they are all doing a great job -
    percentage increases concomitant to current remuneration -
    and, therefore, I will not inhibit increases for the rest of the
    staff in 2013.  That is Session's prerogative and I will not

    Let me stress, again, that I will not accept and will use my
    moderatorial prerogatives to prevent any increases for
    the pastor.

    While I still have a selfish covet in my life, that's between
    God and me.  I struggle with it daily; though it is related to
    my evangelistic ministry, personal refreshment, and safety.
    I submit to His will on that.

    My call to our family of faith is unrelated to remuneration.

    My call to our family of faith increases daily; and I am more
    excited with more energy for our life and ministry together
    for the next decade than I have been for the last one.

    My wife and children will adjust with me as necessary.

    Note this well because it is the passion that prompts this
    inconvertible conclusion.  I cannot accept an increase when
    members of our family of faith are losing their homes, jobs,
    cutting back in all areas of family life, and all of the rest with
    no signs of relief on the horizon.

    Granted, the stewardship of reserves/endowments despite
    the best efforts of our friends contributes to our vigilance
    and my decision that any increase in my remuneration
    would appear selfish on my part and reckless on our part.

    I apologize for the length of this note; but I felt it must be
    said as completely and clearly as possible to prevent

    I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for the privilege
    to be in life and ministry with you; and the aforementioned
    only increases my joy and sense of vocational stability.

    I am just scratching the surface of my relationship
    with Jesus - personally and as your undershepherd -
    and feel like our increasing intimacies with Him and His
    are kinda like hanging onto the coattails of the Holy Sprit
    for the greatest adventure this side of heaven.

    Blessings and Love!

Again, in the spirit of John 3:19-21, I thought you should know.

Blessings and Love!

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