Dear Member of the Body of Christ,
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your hard work and contributions over the past year – whether you were giving of your time, talents, or of your money, or both, we couldn’t have done it without you.
You will probably have noticed in last year’s annual financial statements, that our operating expenses of $324,300 exceeded congregational contributions of $309,500. This is a difference of $14,800. While St. Paul’s is truly blessed to have received bequests of $23,500, as well as investments, we cannot depend on those resources to carry us into the future. This letter is aimed at clarifying our financial situation and offering a possible solution.
As a church, our operating budget expenses for 2016 are $335,900. There are a number of expenses coming up in the next year that we need to be planning for – most notably hiring a second full-time minister, along with regular building repairs and maintenance. Much progress has been made towards meeting our goal, thanks to your contributions and the diligent work of our finance committee. There is still, however, a lot of work to be done to make up our $15,100 deficit for 2016.
With the hard work of so many of our members in mind, revenue generation is a much easier task. When we look at our operation expense requirements and divide it by the number of supporting households, we discover that an average weekly offering of $35 (excluding M&S and special appeals) will cover our total budgeted expenses. That is about $5 per day, or the cost of 7 Starbucks Lattes per week. We believe this is a very reasonable level of contribution considering how God has blessed us in this part of the world.
We still, however, have some concerns. While it is true that many families and individuals are already putting $35 or more in their envelope each week, it is also true that when we are absent from the church a lot of folks forget to make up for the weeks they are absent, thus lowering the average. Please remember that we still must pay the hydro, salaries, and other bills even when we are on vacation or the church is closed. This is where programs like Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR) really help balance out the income flow.
Remember, too, that we said we need $35 per week per family on average. This recognizes that there are some among us whose life circumstances are such that $35 per week is a major, if not an impossible sacrifice. We would like to remind you of the story of the widow who was blessed by Jesus having put two pennies in the offering because it was all she had. For those who struggle to make ends meet, we need to recognize what they do give as a sacrifice. But what of those of us for whom $35 is loose change? What if those individuals were to make a sacrifice equivalent to the one for whom $35 is a real struggle? There are some among us who could give more than $35 each week and not have to go without anything. Whether you give out of obligation, or based on prayerful discernment of where your resources could do the most good is a matter of conscience.
If we can all pull together and do our part as members of the body of Christ, then we can really begin to think about strengthening our mission in the world and doing more to meet the religious and spiritual needs of our community.
Average weekly giving per family to meet our needs in 2016: approx. $35
Budget for the last quarter of 2015: $82,000
Total congregational contributions for the last quarter of 2015: $72,000
How did your contributions over the last quarter of 2015 measure up?
The St. Paul’s United Church Stewardship and Outreach Committee March 17, 2016
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Easter provides a great opportunity to celebrate stewardship!
Easter is one of the most poignant displays of God’s giving to us. We have a tremendous opportunity to respond to this gift by offering our-selves — our prayers, presence, gifts, witness, and service — back to God. Some scholars suggest that Easter is the defining moment of God’s unending ability to give. God gave Jesus, God’s own son, who died on a cross for our sake — yours and ours — for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of everlasting life. Frankly, the Bible is sprinkled — no saturated — with stories of God’s ability to give and give and give. The Creation Story, Noah and the Flood, the Ten Commandments, the Birth Narrative of Jesus, and the Woman at the Well, the list goes on. All biblical depictions of God giving to us throughout the generations.
We believe that we have a responsibility and an opportunity during this season of Easter to remind one another that we are called to share with God by sharing with one another the bounty of God’s gifts in our own lives. We must first consider what God might be calling us to give before we start reminding others of this responsibility or inviting them to consider this invitation. God might be calling us to spend more time with our children. God might be calling us to take better care of our bodies. God might be calling us to serve on a church committee. God might be calling us to invite a friend to church, or to participate in the vision of the church, or to volunteer at a homeless shelter, or to get out of debt, or to consider a major financial gift, or to reach out to an estranged family member.
If you’re not sure where your opportunity lies, stay alert! We are confident that an opportunity to be a steward in the name of the One who died for us will present itself along our Easter journey. We are not alone. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Yours Ever in Christ,
Pastor Sarah & Rev. Richard
- March 19th Afternoon Movie—Son of God 2 p.m.
- March 20th Palm Sunday Worship 10:30 a.m.
- March 24th Maundy Thursday Potluck (St. Paul’s) 6 p.m.
- March 25th Good Friday Service (Wilmot) 11 a.m.
- March 27th Sunrise Service (Pedway) 7 a.m. followed by breakfast at St. Paul’s
- March 27th Easter Service 10:30 a.m.