by The Rev. Kathryn Costas
Stewardship as prayer is something I have been thinking about. As we enter this new church season we are doing something different by having our ingathering of 2019 pledges on the third week of Advent, December 15 & 16. Much prayer has gone into preparing our pledge forms for this year and they say much about who Grace Church is. We send them to you so you have the time to pray about how you will fill them out.
Your response is a prayer. Our Book of Common Prayer defines prayer “as responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.” So the whole action of praying about your financial commitment in 2019 to Grace Church, and putting that on the pledge card, is a prayer, a response to God in thought and deed.
Why do we ask people to pledge? Knowing what our committed financial resources will be for the coming year allows the Finance Committee and the Vestry to prepare a budget. Like any household, we have our set expenses. Mortgage, utilities, insurance, general upkeep, not to mention setting aside for major expenses; then we add salaries, office expenses and supplies, IT expenses, program expenses, outreach, and our diocesan assessment. All of this adds up and as each of us knows, the cost of everything goes up each year. If we didn’t ask folks to pledge, we would have no set plan for paying our expenses. Grace Church tries to live as good stewards of what is given, hoping that we are living out our stewardship as God intends.
Sometimes in churches, we realize that there are projects that we want to do to make life easier for folks or that must be done, but for which we have not budgeted. These are usually large projects such as a new roof, or an elevator, or building expansion. After much prayer, the Vestry will decide to have a Capital campaign, which does just that, raises monies to use toward major enhancements and repairs. We are not doing that at this time, yet the time will come when we do.
Some people may ask, how do we pledge? That answer is varied. Some people choose to give weekly by writing a check and placing it in the offering plate, others do this monthly or yearly. May I prepay my pledge this year for next? The answer is yes. Some people have their banks send out checks weekly, monthly or yearly, others may give the church stock. Some people have the distribution from their IRA’s sent directly to the church, thus avoiding paying tax on the income. Others pay via bankcards or thru Paypal on our website. There are many ways to give to the yearly stewardship of Grace church. Some even choose to put cash in the offering plate!
The how to do it is easy, if you have questions, please speak to me, your rector; our treasurer, Bill Pierce; or bring your questions to the office and we can assist. More time though, should be allocated to prayer. Reflecting and listening, then responding to God by thoughts and deeds, with or without words. If we take these words of the prayer book to heart, our whole life becomes a prayer if we choose to honor it as such.