Dear people of St Luke’s,
Since the very first day I began my ministry among you I have seen how generous this congregation is. You are generous with your time, taking on responsibilities and serving in our various ministries, commissions, groups, and, also, volunteering in the community. You are generous with your talents, sharing your many gifts to serve this church and the community.
You are generous with your treasure too. So generous! In addition to what you give to the pledge and the plate offerings, every time a special need arises, we receive what we need. I have in memory how this congregation has generously supported Don’t Spend Christmas Alone, our Angel Tree, the Food Pantry, just to give a few examples. You are amazingly generous.
2020 has been so challenging in so many ways! So far, our financial situation has been stable because on the one hand our expenses decreased and on the other hand so many of you are up-to-date with your pledge. Many have also increased their pledge or made special offerings to the church.
What a blessing for all of us to be part of such a generous congregation! I have no doubt that this generosity comes from your faith in the Risen Lord and is a way to give back to God for all the blessings each of us have received.
Stewardship is a spiritual discipline allowing us to be generous as an answer to the generosity of God for us. Some of us are tithers, some give a percentage of their income, some give a fixed amount, some give what they can when they can. And it’s awesome! When we see stewardship as a spiritual discipline and a way to give back to God a part of what God has given us, that makes all the difference: this is not an obligation to fulfill anymore, this is a choice that brings us peace and joy. There is joy in giving back to God!
The questions many ask when the Stewardship season arrives are, how much does the church need? What is our goal? Last year our budgeted expenses were $617,767. So, $600,000 could be our goal for 2021. However, our Stewardship Campaign is not a fundraising campaign! Our Stewardship Campaign is an invitation to be generous with our money by giving to St Luke’s and also to trust that your Vestry will make the best decisions possible to use the money entrusted to us.
Larry Neece, in his Witness Talk on Sunday, October 25, shared how he was touched when I said in 2014 that Sophie and I prayed and decided to begin a journey toward tithing. Each year we have increased our giving and we will do so again this year because we are not tithing yet. This is still our goal, though. Being your rector made me think about my own giving and my own perception of Stewardship. For years before I came to St Luke’s, I wanted to give but I gave from scarcity and, more importantly, I gave from my leftover. And very often at the end of the month there was nothing left to give back to God. I thought I could not change that. I wanted to be generous, but I could not afford it. Until I became your rector. Until I heard Ron Davis explaining that he was a tither and that the first check he writes every month is his pledge. What a difference Ron’s testimony made to me. I realized that I had to change the way I was doing things. If I had waited to have enough money at the end of the month to make my pledge, I guess I would not have pledged on a regular basis. Taking Ron’s advice seriously, Sophie and I decided to make our pledge our priority. And the truth is, that since then, we have been able to pledge faithfully. Our situation did not change; our way to see things and money did. It’s sometimes a challenge to pledge as our kids are growing up and going off to college, but somehow being generous to God has helped us to straighten our priorities, and our trust in God has been rewarded by having enough to face whatever came our way. Year after year, we have been increasing our pledge, this is the first thing taken from our account. I’m glad to be a giver, and so should you!
So, for 2021, may I invite you in joining me to be even more generous with your pledge? If you are a tither, could you envisage to give just a little more? If you are giving proportionally, could you please envisage to increase your percentage this year? If you are not a pledger yet, I invite you to make this leap of faith. Please try!
Some of us have financial difficulties, some of us have problems putting bread on the table, please know that you can pledge too: no gift is too small to God! Don’t be ashamed if you can only give a couple of dollars a month. If this is the case, please do pledge and be proud to be a giver.
Next week, George Chesney, our Senior Warden, will send you an email with a pledge card. The 2021 pledge card will also be available on our website. Hard copies will be available at St Luke’s, too. Our in-gathering weekend is November 21 and 22. During all the services we will present the pledge cards to the Lord at the offertory.
I thank you again for your amazing generosity and ongoing support of our ministries. I’m looking forward to counting you as a 2021 pledger!
God bless you and yours,
In Christ’s love,