Stepping Up: Stewardship 2016

Dear First Cong Family,
 
Before becoming involved in  the Executive Council a couple of years ago, I did not pay much attention to the church's finances.  They seemed pretty complicated, and I figured that knowledge was the purview of a few experts-the treasurer, the book keeper, and a handful of really dedicated members who actually read the annual financial reports. 
 
Since we are a Congregational church, however, we all share the responsibility for understanding at least the basics of the budget.  It was very gratifying to participate in last spring's congregational conversations and hear so many of our members having really intelligent discussions about the future of our church's mission as it relates to our finances.  As many of you recall, the tenor of these discussions was pretty optimistic. Though it was clear that we needed to increase our yearly spending to improve our building to better meet the needs of our missions, the success of Reach & Renew suggested that the congregation had the energy and resources to rise to that challenge.  The budget that we approved at the May congregational meeting included the additional yearly spending we need to plan to continue and expand our missions in our building: about $175,000 per year above our typical budgets of the past.
 
In other words, what we voted to do back in May was to accept the challenge of increasing our annual budget by roughly 30%.  We knew that this would require some special planning ahead of the annual Stewardship campaign.  This summer a small ad hoc committee has been working together with the Stewardship Board to plan a campaign we are calling (with thanks to Carol Toussaint for the name) STEPPING UP.  As Carol put it:
 
"This year we are STEPPING UP - stepping up our contributions as each member is able....  We are STEPPING UP to the opportunities afforded to us through the highly successful campaign, REACH AND RENEW.  As we take steps toward fulfilling the goals of that campaign, we must work to increase our annual giving to be worthy of the incredibly generous gifts offered through the capital campaign."
 
One way to do this would be to ask all of our current pledgers to increase their pledges by 30%.  If you can and are willing to do this, that would be wonderful.  However, we believe there are many ways to share the cost of continuing our missions-and we will deeply appreciate contributions of all shapes and sizes. 
*If you are active in the church and have never pledged, we will be asking you to do so.
* If you have been pledging but have not increased your pledge in recent years, we'll be asking you to consider the increases in the church's costs as you determine your pledge for the coming year.
*If you are making monthly contributions to Reach & Renew, we will ask you to consider continuing to give at the same level you are currently giving when R&R giving ends later this year-that is, to add the amount you are currently giving to R&R to your regular monthly contribution.
*Everyone can contribute financially by increasing their use of SCRIP for the purchases one would be making anyway.
*In this era of electronic banking, we'll also be asking everyone to consider the meaning of putting something, however small, in the offering plate as it passes each week.  (If even 150 people put $1.50 in the plate each week, over the course of the year these small contributions would total nearly $12,000!)
 
We'll also be asking you for time, energy and optimism in the next two to three months.  We'll be contacting some members of the church for short interviews we hope will help us hone our communications.  We hope all of you will come to the Stewardship Pancake Breakfast on September 25th. Some of you will be asked to host Small Gatherings for Stewardship, and all will be asked to attend one.  These events are opportunities for fellowship and chances to celebrate the missions of our church together.
 
This stewardship season is our chance to STEP UP our ability to be the beacon of radical welcome and inclusion in downtown Madison that our world right now so deeply needs right now.   I am very excited to see what we can accomplish together. 
 
~ Lyn Macgregor
 

Posted on August 16, 2016 at 10:02 am in Featured Content.

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