The Gifts of God, for the People of God
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34
As plans evolve for this year’s Stewardship Campaign, it is good to look back on the results of previous campaigns and give thanks to the members of the congregation for their generosity. The chart below compares the number of church members, the number of families and the number of pledges in Stewardship Campaigns during the past five years. Arrows superimposed over the bars on the chart indicate the general direction in which each of the three categories is moving. We are fortunate to have had upward growth in the numbers of church members and families in the congregation over this period. But the number of pledges during the last few years has not kept pace with the growth of membership. The annual church pledge is important for two reasons: it demonstrates commitment to one’s faith and the church, and it facilitates the budgeting process for the year ahead. When people are able to estimate the amount of their gift ahead of time and pledge a specific amount, then leadership of the church can determine a budget for the coming year and set priorities for our mission and program.
God’s Spirit calls us together to share beauty and goodness every Sunday when we enter our sanctuary. And God calls us to follow Jesus Christ into a world that God intends to be a sanctuary for all life. We offer our treasure – our time, our material wealth, our whole selves – to God we know in Christ, and to Christ we know in others. As the Bible says, “We have this treasure in clay jars …” (2 Corinthians 4:7). And friends, I’m finding there is much to treasure in our life together.We are called foremost to recognize that all we have is a gift of God’s grace – all of our relationships and accomplishments, all of our resources and opportunities. We are called out of deep gratitude to give back a portion to God and to be dedicated for God’s work in the world. God calls us to be good stewards, providing for life in ourselves and among those we love, and to be good servants unselfishly, generously, even sacrificially providing for life in others. The simple economy of church life is that the goodness of our work together depends inherently upon the contribution of gifts we all make.This year’s theme is, “The gifts of God for the People of God.” It is time for us to discern how our needs and visions for ministry will be supported. Jesus’ parables and his personal examples inspire us with how blessed it is to give, more than concentrating on things we possess or what we deserve to get. Please give as generously as you are able!
The Rev. Dr. Seth E. Weeldreyer
Our Financial Needs
The chart above presents a five-year comparison of our actual expenses, segmented into discretionary and non-discretionary budget categories. The non-discretionary items are essential to operation of the church and are generally difficult to control. Discretionary expenses are not optional when maintaining a healthy church life, but tend to be trimmed back first when necessary to balance the budget. Each set of top and bottom bars represents the percentage each budget category contributes to the sub-total for the respective budget segment. The total amount for combined discretionary and non-discretionary expenses by year is shown at the bottom of the chart in the “Grand Total” line. Discretionary expenses have been relatively flat for the past few years. Non-discretionary expenses have risen each year until 2015, when there was a decrease. Total personnel expense, both as a percentage of non-discretionary expenses and as a dollar expenditure has increased each year.