Preparing the Way: Stewardship 2024
Please read all about our 2024 Pledge Campaign "Preparing the Way" below,
or CLICK HEREto view as a PDF.
Preparing the Way
Not long after we celebrate the feast of our patron saint, Saint Martin of Tours, we begin the season of Advent. Advent is a season of preparation, yes, of waiting, for the arrival of the Christ Child. Here at St. Martin’s, we are in our second year of preparation for the arrival of a new Rector. It is a long and arduous process. At this time last year, we were about to welcome an Interim Rector. In the ensuing year, we rebuilt our staff, established new and reinvigorated existing ministries, and launched the Parish Profile Committee, paving the way to select a new Rector.
Every year, we call upon members of our faith community to consider making a pledge to St. Martin’s—not just to help keep the lights on and the boilers working, but to share our abundance—our gifts—with one another and with the larger community we serve.
Where We Have Been: “The Truth with Love”
During this time of transition, we as a parish are called to take a fresh look at who we are as a parish – where we’ve been, and where we want to go - through the Parish Profile process. The Vestry has diligently prepared information chronicling our history. As regards Stewardship, findings presented at a recent Parish Forum re: Stewardship trends informed our campaign this year.
Pledge Revenue is Declining at St. Martin’s
The graphic below traces the number of pledging households/units and total annual pledge revenue for the last decade. The combination of disruptions - due to COVID and clergy transitions – resulted in a decline in pledging households this past year. We were not alone among parishes in the Diocese in this regard. What is different about St. Martin’s is that the average amount pledged by household has not kept up either with inflation or with other parishes. St. Martin’s Average Pledge of $2800 trails both the Pennsylvania Diocese Average Pledge of $3150 and the National Church Average Pledge of $3628.
At St. Martin’s, there is a wide distribution of pledge amounts among the pledging households
The graph below traces the number of pledging households at each of seven pledging levels established in $1500 increments. It shows that most annual pledges are well below the average, and that total pledge giving is dependent on a relatively small number of significant pledge gifts.
When pledge income declines, the parish must do less with less income
The graph below traces sources of operating revenue - between parishioner giving and endowment income. It shows that parishioner giving has become a smaller source of total operating revenue. Virtually all the income drawn from the endowment generously left to the parish over generations is diverted to supporting ongoing operations. The capital maintenance needs of our parish campus - roof, heating and cooling, drainage, masonry, painting, windows, improvements - persist without a dedicated source of funding that a share of the endowment income would provide.
Where We Are: “The Truth with Love”
As operating revenue has declined, our operating budget has also declined. We budgeted less for clergy during the interim period. We used the previous year surpluses to prepay some 2023 obligations. Those options are not available for us next year. We also anticipate one-time-only expenses for search materials for our new Rector. To position St. Martin’s to meet the budgetary challenges of 2024 without harming our capabilities for worship, mission, and ministry, we need to increase parishioner giving by approximately $200,000 over the $560,000 raised last year. While that may seem like a stretch, as recently as 2020, Annual Giving pledge income exceeded $700,000. We believe it is an achievable and worthy goal.
Achievable and worthy because, coming out of the isolation of COVID, and the turnover in parish clergy and administration, St. Martin’s remains a vital parish with energy and focus in its mission and ministry:
- Average Sunday attendance is steadily returning approaching pre-COVID levels. By streaming services on YouTube, an innovation necessitated by the pandemic, St. Martin’s has extended its reach both to those who can’t attend in-person and others worldwide who are inspired by our liturgy and music. New families are discovering and being welcomed into the St. Martin’s community.
- Renewed energy is evident in committees, programming and ministries focused on the diverse needs and interests of the St. Martin’s Community,
- A young parents group sharing its vision for Children’s Education Formation at St. Martin’s;
- An experienced Buildings and Grounds Committee, creating an integrated, comprehensive plan to stabilize and beautify our spaces;
- An extraordinary Music and Arts program that feeds our souls and invites the greater community to come to St. Martin’s;
- A strong Parish Profile Committee leading the way on creating a critical document, that defines what we want St. Martin’s future to look like;
- A committed Community Engagement Committee coordinating the many outreach initiatives, including new ones like “Under God” that expand the reach and impact of St. Martin’s in the community and worldwide.
Help Us Prepare the Way!
To provide the necessary financial foundation to support the exciting work at St. Martin’s, we’re asking every parishioner to carefully consider the role that St. Martin’s fills in your life and support St. Martin’s with a pledge now to help us ensure that we can continue to thrive and grow, well into the future.
1. Make an Annual Giving pledge to St. Martin’s: If you worship here, if you value the mission and ministry of this parish; if you are new here and want to grow in faith, please recognize that through a pledge to St. Martin’s. Each gift, regardless of the size, is deeply appreciated. It is a sign to clergy and lay leaders of your commitment to what is done here. By making a pledge, you are also able to participate in the life of the parish as a voting member. A pledge card is included with his brochure or alternatively, we encourage you to submit your pledge online at stmartinec.org/pledge. You can also pledge by scanning the QR code above.
2. If you currently pledge, please consider increasing your annual pledge amount. Going back to the example in the graph, at which giving level is your current pledge? What would it take for you to move to the next higher level? An increase of $1500 a year is less than $5 per day. If every household that pledged for 2023 could increase their current pledge to the next level, we would meet the parishioner giving goal and possibly surpass it. We recognize not all parish households will be able to do this. All we ask is that you prayerfully consider making an increase to your annual gift as you are able.
3. Please submit your 2024 Pledge as soon as you are able: Your prompt response to this appeal enables thoughtful budgeting by vestry, clergy, and staff for the year ahead. While we have enclosed a pledge card for your use, we encourage you to submit your pledge online at stmartinec.org/pledge. At that site, you will learn everything you need to know about online pledging. You will also be directed to a link to set up automated giving if you choose to adopt that convenience. Church staff and the Stewardship Committee stand ready to answer any further questions you have and to help make your pledging as easy as possible.
Waiting for a new Rector is not easy. Preparing in a time of uncertainty is challenging. Together, with God’s help, let us work to meet the challenges and prepare St. Martin’s for the exciting, new beginning that lies ahead.
What is a pledge?
A pledge is an estimate of annual giving, or a statement of intent. Your pledge amount may be changed, increased, or decreased during the year, at any time that your financial circumstances change. We solicit pledges each autumn for the following calendar year.
An annual pledge submitted in the autumn for the next year helps us to set an accurate budget, make our payroll, fund our programming and outreach, and plan for the future. Pledges fund the general operating budget that is set and approved by the vestry each year.
Why should I pledge?
Pledging allows you to make intentional decisions about your financial giving. When you plan ahead for your giving, you make conscious choices about spending your money in ways that reflect your faith, values and commitment.
Pledging allows our vestry, St. Martin’s governing board, to plan for our parish community in the same way that you plan for your household. The vestry sets a budget based on the total amount pledged to St. Martin’s. While regular giving that is not pledged is important, a pledge allows the vestry to plan more accurately for the programming and ministries St. Martin’s can accomplish.
Further, an annual pledge to St. Martin’s is required:
- To be a voting member of St. Martin’s
- To serve on the Vestry or other leadership and decision-making bodies.
- To serve in liturgical and ministry roles.
How do I pledge?
Annual giving pledges at St. Martin’s are made each year for the calendar year, January through December. While our annual giving campaign is held in the fall, pledges may be made at any time by submitting a pledge to the parish office online or via a paper pledge card. The online form and pledge cards are available year-round.
How do I pay my pledge?
Paying your pledge is a matter of personal preference. You can pay weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually via cash, check, credit card, or electronic fund transfer. You can initiate your own credit card payments via online giving at St. Martin’s website. You can also pay your pledge with a donation of stock. Many companies offer matching funds for charitable donations. Please confirm if your company offers matching funds.
To provide you a record of your giving for tax purposes we will need to receive your gift electronically, in the form of a check, or in a numbered giving envelope (an option you may select on the pledge form). If you give through stock transfer, please have your broker identify you as the source of the stock so we can give proper credit.
What about giving to a specific ministry?
Restricted giving, i.e. gifts designated for specific ministries in the church, are discouraged unless the person has already pledged. As a community, we need to work together to finance our common life and mission first before we focus on individual passions and interests.
How much should I pledge?
Each individual or household member is asked to make an annual pledge of financial support to St. Martin’s. Determining the amount of your annual pledge is between you and God, but the following simple steps may help determine the amount of your initial pledge.
- Measure what percentage of your income you are currently giving.
- Does your giving reflect the depth of your gratitude to God for all that you have and all that you are?
- As you seek to increase your pledge by 1%, 2%, or 5%, moving toward a tithe.
What is proportionate giving?
Proportionate giving bases your pledge amount on a percentage of your income and allows for increases to your pledge in following years by 1%, 2%, or 5% to move you closer to a goal of tithing. It is also a way of giving that begins with the question, “How has God blessed me?” rather than “What does the church need?” or “What is left after everything else?”
What is a tithe?
A tithe is 10% of your income. Since 1982, the Episcopal Church has affirmed the tithe as the minimum standard for giving and encourages its members to tithe or be working toward a tithe. St. Martin’s recognizes that many parishioners choose to divide their tithe among the church and other worthy charitable organizations, so we teach the “Modern Tithe,” 5% to the Church and 5% to other charities.
A tithe may sound like an unattainable goal to begin with, but if you start with a certain proportion of your income and increase the percentage each year through proportionate giving, you can reach this goal over time.
Just as we grow in faith, we continually strive for growth in our stewardship response to meet this standard of grateful giving.