Dear Beloved Community,
First and foremost, we hope that you are all moving through this time in ways that feel right to you. We especially encourage you to connect with your Community Circle if you haven’t already, using it to reach out for support (both giving and receiving) as you are able. This is a wonderful way for us to live out our covenant and our mission in these times.
We are writing this week to keep you informed about some of the financial elements of the evolving situation. As your Board of Trustees, one of our primary responsibilities is the fiscal health of the church. Because we are currently in a state of global emergency, we have made two decisions that in more normal times we would have brought to you; we believe both are firmly in the long-term interests of our Foothills community. The first slows the timeline of our building expansion project, the second authorizes the church to seek a payroll loan through the Federal CARES Act.
The Board met on March 25 to discuss possible next steps in our building expansion project, and we want to share our thinking with you. Collectively, we have done so much amazing work to get to this stage, and we first want to share our deep gratitude to everyone who has participated in visioning sessions and design charrettes, on committees and ministry teams, and in visiting and receiving visits for our capital campaign.
Given both the dramatic turn of events since our March 1 congregational meeting and the uncertainty about the coming weeks and months, the Board has decided that we should slow down our building project so that we can focus our full attention on the present and urgent needs of our congregation and our wider community. Specifically, we have informed our architect and general contractor to make only minimal progress on our schematic design until our annual congregational meeting on May 31. By that point, we imagine we will have a much better idea about what we are able to do and by when to continue to move towards the vision that we have all invested in for our long term future.
In the meantime, we appreciate everyone who has continued to fulfill your capital campaign pledge. Everything you are contributing is going into a longer-term savings account that will accrue interest until it is needed. These funds will also ensure that we have more cash-in-hand when we move into construction, which will reduce our need for interim financing and thus decrease the total project costs.
On the other hand, if you are feeling anxious about your capital campaign pledge, please set that anxiety aside. We are all working with new realities, and we know that everyone will continue to be as generous as they can, even if this is different than you might have thought a few weeks ago.
When considering your financial support of the church, we ask that you prioritize giving to support our annual operating budget. Our staff team is working overtime to ensure that we remain connected with one another through the formation and support of our Community Circles and through online worship.
We are also grateful that we can be a resource to our wider community in this time, especially to those who are the most vulnerable. As you may have heard, our building is in use as permanent-for-now housing for four homeless families and the staff of the Family Housing Network who would otherwise be required to move weekly from church-to-church, so our costs throughout this time remain largely the same. Additionally, our mobile food bank continues to operate twice a month (and we are looking at adding dates), and our work in support of immigrants in our community is increasing as we look for ways to support the most vulnerable in this time.
It is our hope and intention to continue to be a just employer through this time, and to ensure that our staff team remains fully employed and compensated for the amazing work they are doing during this challenging time. To this end, the Board met on April 5 and voted to temporarily suspend our Board Policy requiring congregational approval of any debt, enabling Foothills to quickly take advantage of the federal CARES Act’s small business loan program. We will apply for a loan to help cover payroll expenses through June 1. We anticipate being eligible for a loan of $110,000, all but $29,000 of which will be forgiven according to the structure of the loan program. Note that Foothills’ bylaws do not contain any procedural requirements around taking on debt; as our board policies are a living document, reviewed and revised by the Board as needed, we feel confident this is the appropriate action to take.
For all of these reasons and so much more, we invite your continued financial support (through your pledge or through a separate donation) of our vital work. And, again, we know that everyone will be as generous as they are able, and we sincerely appreciate every gift towards our common purpose and shared mission.
We remain deeply committed to the vision we have collectively developed for our congregation, and specifically for our building. While there are many unknowns in this moment, we do know that we will continue to be guided by our shared values: Joyful Resilience, Collective Courage, Deepening Belonging, and Transcendent Wonder. We are seeing our values enacted throughout our Foothills community daily, in ways that we couldn’t have imagined even a month ago. Our collective work is emerging, and it is beautiful.