'Rethinking' the 2009 Journal

September 02, 2009

By Kristin Sachen
CA-NV Annual Conference Secretary

As we learned at our Annual Conference this year, major adjustments to the 2009 budget needed to be made due to the low receipt of apportionment dollars for our Conference work. This resulted in job cuts, loss of hours, and reduction in the operating expenses across the whole expanse of the Conference. Last year, we spent $22,823 to publish and mail out copies of our Journal in written form for lay members, clergy (active and retired), and congregations. Our adjusted 2009 budget allows only $5,361 for the same task. In order to reconcile the difference, we are preparing the entire Journal on disk (as has been included for the past several years with our printed Journal) and distributing the disks to the same mailing list (as required by our Conference Rules). 
 
The decision to do this was made very simple by our financial realities. With finite resources, and with infinite mission to be accomplished, we are called to be good stewards of our dollars and to put our gifts where they will be most effective. The Journal is an important communication tool - however, as a pastor and Conference leader for 26 years, and as a user of the Journal, I know that the most-used portions are the directory, the nominating report, and the Conference Rules (come on, someone besides me reads the Conference Rules!). These portions can be printed out and kept in a binder at the user's expense. Those who do not have a computer may ask their local church, a family member, or a friend to print out the portion(s) they most need.
 
When I first received the disk along with my printed Journal, I remember sniffing, "What's this?" I am reminded of the first time my mother tried to serve me lima beans. I was annoyed to have to put the disk in to find some of the information I wanted. This past year, as I began serving as Conference Secretary and had to use the disk more and more, I found it easy to use: Easy to find what I wanted, to print sections, to copy sections and paste in documents . . . let's just say I learned to like it much more than I ever learned to like lima beans. We are very fortunate to have Susan Hunn as our Journal editor, who prepares the text in an easy-to-use format for the computer.
 
This is a part of re-thinking church. A disk may still be new-fangled and ornery for some, but it is a tool that will enable us to travel lightly as we move through our parishes to bring the good news of hope and life in Christ. Its time has come.
 
Those few who have paid $20 for extra copies will receive a copy printed and mailed at the Conference office. Next year, with at least as much in the "printing" budget as we have for 2009, we can consider some other options. Perhaps everyone will be charged a fee for a printed Journal; perhaps we will agree to reduce the number of Journals; perhaps we will agree to put the whole thing on the website and forget the disks: What other possibilities does the re-thought church suggest? I would welcome your suggestions (pastorkris@pacbell.net).