"Every one shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the
Lord your God which he has given you." --Deuteronomy 16:17
As our congregation looks to the future, we all need to think about our own calling as Christian stewards and our particular responsibility to support Christ's church. Never has the world needed the ministry of Christ's church more. Yet all churches, including our own, require resources in order to make a positive difference. How is our church going to have an impact for the good if her own members don't tangibly demonstrate their support through active stewardship and financial giving?
At St. Paul United Church of Christ we make an annual stewardship appeal every November. We encourage everyone to take a step up and a step forward in the weekly amount they contribute to help the congregation meet increased expenses. This may not be possible for everyone. But we hope that it will be possible for most of us. As Christian stewards, it is important for all of us to think in terms of "proportional giving"--i.e., contributing a percentage of our disposable income in any given year. Brochures about stewardship and proportional giving are available in the foyer of our church. You may want to pick up one or more brochures as you leave Sunday morning worship.
To help our members plan and budget their giving, our church provides pledge or "estimate of intended giving" cards as part of the annual stewardship appeal. Completed cards, which are kept confidential by the church's financial secretary, are collected in sealed envelopes as a part of a consecrated Sunday morning offering. Pledges or estimates can always be adjusted upwards or downwards depending upon your circumstances later in the year. Also, to assist church members in their financial giving printed weekly offering envelopes are mailed directly to member homes. Although the mailed envelopes are convenient, there is an annual $10 per household cost to the church for this "out-sourced" service. Please keep this mind as you make your first envelope contribution: your thoughtful and generous contribution for the envelopes themselves can help our church cover or defray the associated expense. If you are a newcomer and wish to have offering envelopes sent to you, please notify the church office. While there is often a lag time between such a request and the actual receipt of printed envelopes, a packet of offering envelopes can be provided by the church office for your temporary use.
Assisted by the church treasurer, bookkeeper, and financial secretary, our church Council is committed to keeping the entire congregation informed about our ongoing progress in meeting our projected budget for the year. Along with budget and financial giving updates provided on a monthly basis in the Sunday morning worship bulletin, individual stewardship statements are mailed to members at least twice per year. Special moments of concern are also sometimes used to address stewardship issues and to alert our church members to the immediate financial standing of our church. More detailed reports on our church budget and financial giving are published and distributed during the annual and semi-annual meetings of the congregation in January and July respectively. In September, our congregation usually has a designated "Catch-Up Sunday" to spur members to close any budget and financial giving gap that has widened during the summer months when people are often away on vacation.
Of course, above and beyond weekly giving, donations to the longer term needs of our church and its ministries are appreciated. A special brochure, Making a Gift or Bequest, details different church-related funds which welcome donations. The brochure is available on line and in printed form in the church narthex. Bequests can also go a long way in furthering the mission and ministry of St. Paul United Church of Christ. The pastor or members of the executive committee of the church Council will be glad to answer any questions you may have about how to direct a bequest to serve the church best.
Sometimes Christians are admonished to "give until it hurts." At St. Paul United Church of Christ, we simply ask our members and friends to give thoughtfully, prayerfully, and generously--recognizing that this may mean some stretching for us all. May we truly work together to help our church step forward in Jesus Christ, ministering to our larger community and world.