by Mike Roberts, Church Historian
Serving on the Board of Trustees is a difficult job. Ask anyone who has held that position. While scanning the Board of Trustees meeting reports during the American Civil War period, I came across this report from September 4, 1863. It was issued to the congregation by the board at a special congregational meeting.
“To the members of the First Universalist Society:
We your trustees who by a resolution adopted June 10th were authorized to sell the Plum Street church leaving same without incumbrance, beg leave to report that they have used all reasonable means in their judgment to carry out the instructions of said resolutions but as yet have not been able to find a purchaser willing to pay a price which in their judgment justified a sale, therefore no sale has been made consequently no purchase.
Your trustees would further state that they have made an estimate of the expenditures of the church for the ensuing year which will amount to $2,500.
Owing to the very small number of pews rented and a lack of promptness on the part of many in paying their rent the income has been reduced to $1,200 to $1,300 leaving a deficit of at least $1,200 to be supplied either by subscription or the renting of pews.
Your trustees would also state that they have exercised their ability to the fullest extent in the management of the financial affairs of this church and it is exceedingly mortifying to them to report that in one of the largest and wealthiest cities of the Union where there are hundreds of professed believers in our faith that they are unable to keep one Society in a financial condition to justify them in continuing the services of a pastor when the expenses all told do not exceed $2,500.
The trustees would also state that in their opinion the main cause of the present condition of this Society is attributable to the want of cooperation on the part of the members of this Society with the Trustees.
And in closing this report the trustees would take the liberty to recommend that unless a sufficient amount of funds be promptly raised and deposited in the treasury to defray the expenses of the church for one year so as to prevent any increase of debt that on and after next Sunday night this church be closed and so remain until a sufficient fund be raised to justify it being re-opened.
A . W. Churchill, W. Chidsey, R. Wooley, J. Butterfield