annual campaign and
the circle of grace
A message from the Rector:
For over 15 years now, The Circle of Grace has been the foundation of our parish’s stewardship conversations. Truly, it is the experience of those of us who practice intentional stewardship that Grace begets Gratitude, Gratitude begets Generosity, and that Generosity begets yet more Grace not only in our lives but also in the lives of others.
As Bishop Bruce is fond of saying, All that we are, all that we have, and all we do is a gift from God, and it’s meant to be shared. Such a grace-filled gift calls for a generous and grateful response. My thankfulness to God certainly informs my giving, but even so, my stewardship is not just a matter of returning to God a portion of God’s generosity to me. No, there is more. In Christian giving, I believe myself to be living into what God has created me to be, at least in part. By nature, I am not a particularly generous person; by grace, I pray that I am learning Christian generosity. Such generosity is of the image and likeness of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus.
There is a real recklessness in God’s generosity. In God there is no holding back, no reserve. God’s generosity is without condition and total. Each of us is offered the opportunity this fall to make, in faith, a pledge for next year. I invite you to look at the crucifix hanging in the crossing in our beautiful church and to see there God’s generosity poured out for you. Then as you leave the church, look up and behold Mary holding her child who is looking at you with all-knowing love and blessing, and thereupon base your response.
All of our ministries—liturgy and music; children, youth and the preschool; community life; outreach—make ours a church where we can experience and respond to God’s limitless love. The goal of deepening our own discipleship, growing our program offerings, and extending God’s grace into the larger community and the world cannot happen unless we take seriously the spiritual implications and responsibilities of Christian stewardship.
I encourage you in the coming weeks to reflect on grace, gratitude and generosity as we enter into the stewardship season and I hope you will save the date of November 23 for our Annual Campaign Dinner. Invitations and pledge cards will go out from our Stewardship Team at the beginning of November.
Peace and all good,
FULLNESS OF LIFE
If gratitude causes a shift in our thinking, and reveals to us that our lives are truly abundant, our response is to give back out of that abundance. We give back to God, in thanksgiving for the blessings we have received, and the blessings we know simply in God, by God's presence, through Christ's church, through the community of the parish.
There are different ways of giving in response to our gratitude and in confidence of our abundance: time, gifts, money. The church needs each of these in order to continue to speak the Good News of Christ in the world. To hear more about stewardship, planned giving and to become a pledging member, click on any of the drop down items under this menu item.
Donations may also be made by check (payable to Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church) or cash in the church office. Please contact Parish Administrator Elaine Loke with questions.
To make a pledge to Saint Mark's in support of the church and her ongoing ministry to the local community and beyond, please complete the following form. Your weekly, monthly or quarterly offering may be placed in the Offering Plate on Sundays, mailed to the church office, automatically mailed to Saint Mark's by your bank or charged to your credit or debit card through Church Giving. Questions about pledging? Contact Chey Widdop, Associate for Community Life, at email@example.com.
Planned Giving is a way to leave a legacy and support the mission and ministry of Saint Mark’s Church beyond your lifetime. There are many ways to remember Saint Mark’s in your estate planning which include the following:
Name Saint Mark’s as the beneficiary of a bequest
Create a planned gift (for example: a gift annuity or charitable trust) that can provide lifetime income and ultimately becomes a gift to Saint Mark’s
Contribute real estate, securities or other personal property
Make Saint Mark’s the owner or beneficiary of a fully paid life insurance policy
To find out more information about Planned Giving, visit The Episcopal Church Foundation. Questions about Planned Giving at Saint Mark’s? Contact Chey Widdop, Associate for Community Life, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHY GIVE MONEY OR TIME TO A CHURCH?
The Episcopal Network for Stewardship reminds us that "stewardship is not a program, it is not about raising money, and it is not here today and gone tomorrow. Stewardship is a journey. It is about life – a way of life." Put simply, giving is our response to what we have received. We are created in God’s image, as we read in the Book of Genesis, and God gives. God gives us life and love, forgiveness and mercy. Stewardship is our response to God’s gifts, in which we give of our time, talent, and treasure so that the church can carry on its ministries of worship, formation, and service. Stewardship is our giving back to God, in thanksgiving, a portion of the blessings we have received.
WHY GIVE TO SAINT MARK’S? IS IT THE SAME AS GIVING TO GOD?
Today, there are many worthy charities doing good work. They deserve your financial support. Many of our members do not limit their giving to their local congregation. However, for nearly 2000 years, this is what we know to be true: making a decision to give back to God through the ministry of the Church is an essential way for us to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world.
WHAT ABOUT GIFTS OF TIME AND TALENT?
The ministry of Saint Mark’s could not survive without the countless hours of donated time and the generous sharing of talents and gifts by so many of our members. The gifts of time and talent are invaluable to our common life and are very much appreciated.
WHY FILL OUT A PLEDGE CARD?
Each year the Vestry of Saint Mark’s asks the parish members to make a financial offering in the form of a pledge. Only when the signed pledge cards are received and totaled can the church’s leadership adequately plan for the upcoming year. The overwhelming majority of the church’s total operating budget is funded by the pledges of our members. Without a broad-based financial commitment through pledging, we would not be able to offer the kind of pastoral care, spiritual formation, support of worthy outreach ministries, and the quality worship that we have all come to appreciate.
DOESN’T THE DIOCESE HELP OUR CONGREGATION COVER OUR EXPENSES?
No. In this country, the church is funded from the bottom up, not the top down. It is the local congregations, through the pledges of its members, who support the work of the Diocese. The Diocese, in turn, sends money to the National Church in support of our larger national and international mission.
SHOULD ONE MAKE A PLEDGE AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR A COUPLE?
There is no hard and fast rule. Most married couples sign one pledge card. Some people feel strongly about making their own individual pledge. Each young person who has been confirmed by the bishop is invited to make his or her own pledge, as well as those adults over the age of 18 living in the family home.
WHAT IF ONE DECIDES NOT TO PLEDGE AND INSTEAD PUTS CASH INTO THE SUNDAY COLLECTION?
All monies given to the church are offered to glory of God. However, the total yearly amount received from collection plate offerings accounts for a small fraction of the monies needed to fund our ministry. As Jesus said while being tempted in the wilderness, "One does not live by bread alone." Nor can this congregation flourish through collection plate offerings alone.
IS IT TRUE THAT EACH HOUSEHOLD THAT PLEDGES GETS A QUARTERLY BILL?
No. When a pledge is made, a number is assigned to the giver. Pledge envelopes distributed the first of the year all have the giver’s number printed in the corner. Whenever you use your pledge envelope by putting it into the collection plate or mailing it to the church office, you are able to be credited for what you contributed. That is why it is beneficial to use the pledge envelopes rather than putting loose cash into the collection plates. Periodic statements, not bills, are mailed out to remind members of their progress in paying off their pledge. Since the church has expenses throughout the calendar year, it is important that most members stay current with their giving. The year-end statement mailed to each giving household is an essential document for those who claim their gift as a tax deduction. It pays to use the pledge envelopes.
SUPPOSE YOUR PERSONAL FINANCIAL PICTURE VARIES FROM MONTH TO MONTH, YEAR TO YEAR?
One of the most frequent reasons people offer for not making a pledge is that they are uncertain about their overall financial picture in the year ahead. In today’s economy, your personal financial picture may change from month-to-month, year-to-year. When you make a pledge for the upcoming year, should your income drop dramatically, please know that you may decrease your pledge by writing to the Assistant Treasurer at the church. On the other hand, should you experience an added bonus or dividend during the year, you are of course free to increase your pledge.
WHAT IF YOU WERE NOT ABLE TO PAY YOUR PLEDGE IN FULL IN YEARS PAST?
Each year the slate is wiped clean. If circumstances prevented you from fulfilling past pledges, do not allow that experience to discourage pledging for the upcoming year. Simply throw away the old pledge envelopes and begin the New Year with the new envelopes issued to you in January.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
In truth, we can never give back to God as much as we have been given. Each one of us needs to ask the question "how much is enough" and answer it for oneself. Some of our members have been tithing – giving 10% of their income – for years, and they speak with great passion and joy for what the discipline has meant in their lives. You are invited and encouraged to make your pledge a proportional gift – a percentage of your household income. If pledging is new for you, you may want to start small. Begin by giving 2% or 3% of your household income and try to increase each year until you reach 10%.