Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rector's Rambling - December 12, 2010

Last Sunday, after the service, a parishioner asked, “Father, I don't think I received a pledge card in the mail this year.” He was right, he had not. And he was the first person to notice, or at least to point it out to me.
In the past nine years we have mailed out stewardship letters, with pledge cards, to all the parishioners on our mailing list (about 250 of the addresses on our master mailing list). This was followed up by a letter with another copy of the pledge card to all those who had contributed financially to the parish in the past year (about 120 addresses or so). Finally, a third letter and card were sent to those from that second list who had not sent back a pledge card.
The result of all those letters, cards, and postage, has been nearly identical each year. We receive signed pledge cards for about 1/3 of what we actually receive each year in pledge income. We may receive $80,000 in promised pledges and then receive $250,000 in pledge income.
At budget time, the treasurer, wardens, and rector make a budget to present to the vestry for approval, to then be presented at the parish meeting in January. Those numbers are based not on pledge cards received, but an estimate based on expected expenses, and hoped-for income based on years past and anticipated events in the year to come.
Overall, the people of St. John’s are generous in support of the parish. The high average of total gifts is boosted by a few people who give very large, sacrificial gifts each week/month. Others are making smaller, yet equally sacrificial gifts as their tithe (biblical 10% offering).
But many are somewhere in the middle, needing to evaluate their giving per week. Is it truly an “offering” to the Lord of our first fruits, in thanksgiving for the blessings He has bestowed upon us, or not?
Rather than a quick and unfruitful Fall campaign (unfruitful in percentage of returned cards), instead we will in the coming year concentrate on how important Stewardship is all throughout the year!
All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee. 1 Chronicles xxix. 14.