Commercial Ministries Investment

Commercial Ministries Investment

by David Schowalter, Clerk, Board of Management

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There is an exciting new development that has the potential to alleviate some of the financial pressure felt by the Congregation and the Board of Management in recent years. As many of you are aware, the Congregation has repeatedly voted to use more than the pre-approved amount from our investment funds in order to balance the annual operating budget of the church. We all know this is not a sustainable solution, so last year, the Board launched a task force on Commercial Ministries, looking for opportunities to make money for services offered to the community that would also be in line with the church’s mission.

The most promising opportunity the Board has reviewed to date is to offer a co-op for parents who choose to homeschool their children. Jennifer Moore, a member of the congregation, has developed a business plan that involves using the church space three days a week and part time teachers to offer courses over three twelve-week semesters each year. This co-op would be owned and run by the church in order to ensure it is operated in line with our mission, and to reap the benefits of the operation. When operating at full capacity (probably several years after inception), the business plan shows an operating profit of approximately $20,000 annually. The tentative plan is to begin operation in September, 2019.

We recognize this is a very big step, and that some up-front investment will be required. We think the first such investment is to do a “trial run” for one month with a limited number of students. This will help us better understand if there is anything we are missing in terms of supplies and facilities, as well as logistics. Jennifer is very tied into the homeschool community in Central Massachusetts, and should easily be able to get the students to come for the trial, now planned for March, 2019. Because the Church does not yet have the infrastructure in place to process funds for service, and as we know that there may be quality and logistics challenges for this trial, we do not believe it makes sense to charge students for the trial. It is, however, a significant effort to do the managing and teaching, so we will need to pay Jennifer Moore for her time and effort.

Therefore, we will hold a congregational meeting after the service on February 3 in order to receive the Congregation’s approval to use up to $5,000 from the investment funds in order to pay Jennifer for her work during the trial. In the meantime, I (we?) will be offering the opportunity for members to ask questions and offer feedback during the ensuing weeks. We hope you share in the excitement of this opportunity to offer a needed service to the community and to improve our operating finances!