21 October 2015
Greetings, St. Paul’s Friends!
As I write this Stewardship (Giving) letter to you I’m conducting a challenging conversation with God. I am examining my pledge to St. Paul’s, and I’m doing the math on what percentage of my gross income I pledge.
The result is that I give about 4.2% of my income to our work at St. Paul’s. I tell God that I think this is pretty good. But I don’t need God to tell me that 4.2% falls short of the biblical standard of giving called a tithe, 10%. If I really am honest with myself, I admit that tithing is definitely doable because I have witnessed several clergy and lay people in my lifetime who give 10% of their worth to God.
I have put myself on a plan toward tithing. God knows my heart and I know God loves me no matter what is on my heart. God loves me even if I give nothing. I believe the verse in I Chronicles 29:14, “…all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” I have great abundance in my life and feel God’s blessing every day. Surely, I can make a loving response to God’s abundance and blessing by increasing my pledge to St. Paul’s in 2016!
Our own patron St. Paul wrote to his Corinthian congregation about giving, “Each of you must give as you have made up your own mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” These two bible verses prompt us to reflect on the question, “What do we believe about God’s ever-loving care and provision for our every need and the work we are called to do for Christ’s sake in the world?”
The Ministry Teams have envisioned their ministries and made their requests for funding for 2016. Our Vestry made a commitment that we would work toward tithing to Outreach. You will see that our Outreach commitment is large – and yet, some congregations go beyond giving 10% to Outreach. This year, we are excited to greet our new Music Ministry Director Mr. Randy Day in an expanded job description to help us deepen our spiritual lives through congregational singing and inspiring music.
Thank you Stewardship Ministry Team (Giving Program), Paul Womer, Pat Ryan, Emily Levine, Chip Liversidge and Lucy Leitzell who have put together the presentations we witnessed Sunday and who are presiding over the writing of the “Word Cloud,” What are we grateful for at St. Paul’s.” So far, “friendship” is the most written word.
I thank all of you who have given so generously to St. Paul’s every year, for this reflects the good health of our life together in Christ. If you don’t pledge, I invite you to spend time in conversation with God and your family to determine if you will pledge for 2016; or if you will increase your pledge by a percentage. Please complete the enclosed pledge card and place it in the alms basin the First Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2015.
In gratitude and faith,
Carolyn H. Eklund
The Rev. Carolyn H. Eklund