February News Regarding the Foundry Management Board

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Foundry Management Board, a nine-person elected group, meets monthly to discuss and make decisions regarding the management of the church. This report covers the February 2014 meeting. 

In their regular meeting February 25, members of the Foundry Management Board focused on two key areas of continuing concern: goal-setting aspirations for the church – especially during the critical period of transition to a new senior minister in 2014 – and declining attendance trends at weekly worship services. 

In a separate Charge Conference on that date, the board approved compensation packages for the Foundry clergy for the coming year and approved a Foundry Endowment Program charter. 

The board welcomed news from the Finance Committee that preliminary indications are Foundry ended 2013 with a surplus of more than $8,000. Earlier estimates had projected a deficit for the past year. The positive balance came as the result of both strong giving and cost-cutting measures. The committee noted that cash offerings in collection plates had declined approximately 8 percent from the previous year. 

Senior Pastor Dean Snyder opened the discussion on church attendance by noting that the number of individuals at Sunday services had dropped during each of the past two years – a circumstance that he believes requires study, analysis, and a strategy to reverse the trend. After several years of growing attendance, average weekly worship attendance dropped 3.7 percent in 2012 and 5.8 percent in 2013. 

“It is extremely difficult to figure out why people attend services and why they decide otherwise,” he said. “Foundry is among several congregations in the region that have experienced declines in recent years.” 

Several board members agreed that resolving to encourage new attendees and retain existing members is a paramount priority. Foundry experiences a high rate of turnover in attendance and membership every five years, given the church’s demographic makeup and the high transience in the area. The board will consider using information-gathering surveys to ascertain reasons for the falloff in attendance, and recommend ways to bring the numbers back up.           

The board hopes to convene a retreat with ministerial staff to further discuss Foundry priorities, and may also schedule a Holy Conversation that would be open to all congregants in the near future.           

In a separate Charge Conference chaired by Rev. Dr. Joe Daniels, Greater Washington District Superintendent of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, the board unanimously approved compensation increases for pastors and staff and a charter for the Foundry Endowment Program.           

Board President Dan Vock noted that compensation packages reflect some changes in job descriptions. The total packages also include merit increases to prior salaries, housing allowances, reimbursable expenses, health coverage costs, and pension contributions. The new salaries, with the exception of that for the incoming senior minister, take effect immediately. The board and its personnel committee completed a performance review of the senior pastor. All other staff members were evaluated by their supervisors to determine new salary and compensation totals.           

Ministers and their total compensations include Dean Snyder, $150,555; incoming Senior Pastor Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, $165,555; Executive Pastor / Chief of Staff Dawn M. Hand, $127,983; Associate Pastor Al Hammer, $120,787; and Theresa S. Thames, Director of Challenging Study Ministries, $83,225.           

In response to a question from the board, District Superintendent Daniels reported that after the changes become effective in July the compensation of the Foundry senior minister will rank fifth or sixth among United Methodist ministers in the conference. 

– Stan Wellborn on behalf of the Mission Possible Communications Team