St. Andrew’s has begun an “Encore” stewardship campaign through Pentecost (June 8th) to make up the difference between our Winter stewardship campaign, which raised about 80% of our annual budget, and the $362,000 we need to carry out our work. You’ll hear about it in church and in our communications materials, and you can read how we hope to make up the difference on our website. So what’s the story with pledge gap?
It’s actually a larger story than just this year. Over the past year or so, we’ve begun to notice giving trends that tell a number of important stories. One of those trends is a very promising one: each year we see a number of new and increased pledges. In 2014, we’ve already seen 58 increased or new pledges. That’s about 42% of our pledging households. In the last 2 years, we’ve seen more than $60,000 in new or increased pledges. That accounts for about 16% of our annual budget. If those trends continue steadily, then the big picture for St. Andrew’s looks very good indeed.
But we have also noticed another meaningful change: as longtime parishioners have passed away or reached a stage where they have had to reduce their financial support, the impact on giving has been significant. In fact, in the past year we began to predict that in the coming 3-4 years this difference between lost income and “new” income would grow precipitously, regardless of how well we did stewardship, newcomer ministry, pastoral care, liturgy, or any of the many things that I think we do pretty well.
We (the vestry) called this the Gap. Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you what we actually called this: “The Holy Crap Gap.”
This gap has become a reality even faster than we have predicted. Many of the changes and losses that we anticipated over a series of years have already happened, and we find ourselves having to step into this uncertain period sooner than we’d hoped.
And yet, there is good news in this. In fact, I think there is a great deal of good news here. The first is the gift of gratitude that we can feel for those who have sustained this church for so long. It’s important to realize that so much of what we have is because of the faithful work and generosity of folks who’ve dedicated much of their lives to cultivating this church.
The other piece of good news is that despite some big changes, we are entirely capable of stepping into the gap and discovering not only that God is there with us, but that we have the means to get through it.
The first step of course is to address the immediate shortfall. 20% is a lot – it comes out to be about $72,000. But we’ve figured out that if everyone can step forward at the level that works for them, we can have a meaningful impact on it.
But the bigger opportunity is this: this is the time when, in gratitude to those who’ve gone before us, those of us who love and are formed by the church are called to step forward and take responsibility for carrying out its work in our time and place.
In so, we will experience an even deeper knowledge of God’ presence. In good times and in challenging times, and with every breath, God’s grace and generosity will continue to surprise us.