As you know, it’s stewardship season, and the time of our in-gathering of annual giving pledges is fast approaching. Normally, the in-gathering is literally the time we go to church with our pledge cards in hand to gather together and give our offerings to the church. This year, we will be mailing them in envelopes, but it is no less sacred and no less important.
In a time of uncertainty, unrest and upheaval, it is harder to ask you all to make pledges and give to the church. Those of us still in the workforce know that there is no such thing as job security, and we have been conditioned to save as much as we can to protect ourselves from the unknown. I am the same way and I’m not here to judge anyone. I spent half of 2020 unemployed and ultimately had to leave the community I love to provide for my family. It can be scary to not know the future and wonder how things will work out.
If I were not so involved in the church, I would probably not know how much my giving makes a difference. If I were not constantly talking with our head of B&G, the staff and school, I would probably not know how old things are constantly breaking and needing fixing, and that our budget is never enough to cover all these expenses. If I were not so involved with the vestry nowadays, I would not be as familiar with how hard people work to keep costs down with volunteer labor or creative solutions, and how much more we can do if we only had a few more dollars here and there.
As you know, we are a pretty small congregation. Every donation matters – absolutely every one, no matter the size. Every increase you can afford will allow us to move from just surviving to thriving! This year more than ever, we need your support to ensure that, as we welcome our new rector, Adam Spencer, and his wife Rose to St. Elisabeth’s, we are set up for success. This includes our need to cover moving expenses for their family and a third year of Stone Sash and Sound funding to compete the renovations to the buildings. There’s the additional need for new resources as we continue to meet the challenges of worshiping and gathering virtually, addressing the special concerns of our parishioners and responding to the new requirements of those in the community we traditionally serve.
As someone who struggles with decisions around giving versus saving, I’ve had to wrestle with this question of “what can I afford?” I would ask that you consider this question differently. It’s not simply “what can I afford to give?” but also “can I afford not to give?’ In this time of pandemic, we are reminded of the strength of our relationships within St. Elisabeth’s and of God’s constant love in the midst of uncertainty. We are blessed with leadership that is providing opportunities for us to worship and learn together. The voices of our children and youth remind us of the important moral compass they have found in our community, and their own faithful expressions of caring and serving give us vision and hope.
Both the church staff and the volunteers who make up our vestry will always be grateful for what we have and will do our best to spend our resources wisely. The reality is that it’s really hard to manage finances well and do everything we’d like to do without sufficient dollars. As you read the brochure and annual appeal materials that were sent to your home, please reflect on these questions: What can I contribute to ensure that St. Elisabeth’s is a strong, dynamic parish as we welcome our new rector? What can I afford to give? Can I afford not to give?
This is our church. Working together we will thrive.