The First Sunday of Advent is November 30 when we light the first candle of the Advent Wreath. In Family Worship, our Advent Song is “Light one candle for hope,” for the first candle is for hope. Sunday, November 30 is also the Giving Program Ingathering Day for pledges.
As Christians we are people of hope. St. Paul writes, “May the God of hope fill us with all joy in believing in the power of the Holy Spirit.” St. Paul’s has a deep and abiding hope in that power. Our Easter faith lies in the hope of the Resurrection to new life. In Baptism we believe that we die with Christ and rise with him in the Resurrection. And we hope that God is transforming all creation and making it new. We believe that what is brought low is raised up.
The first draft of our 2015 St. Paul’s budget pledge figure for 2015 is more than a hopeful amount at $295,000. In 2014 pledges have been coming in and with electronic payments, our cash flow became more consistent over the summer. Our proposed increase in pledging from last year’s amount of $275,000 is based on a steady increase over our proposed amount last year and those of us who are able to make an increase. Thank you for your generosity.
My hope turns to joy as I reflect on our first year together. We have joyfully stepped out of our doors to share our faith with our neighbors offering “Ashes To Go” for example. We have made a decision to share our resources with non-profits in our area, and renewed our commitment to Habitat for Humanity. We have increased the use of our building as others have come to us for safety and shelter (12-Step programs have increased and we host The Gathering Place.) We have committed ourselves to raising up families and supporting children with our new Christian Formation Director, Jane Burke.
But I’m most proud of the Vestry’s decision to commit our parish to a 3-year plan to tithe Outreach spending based on our Operating budget. We embraced the Outreach Committee’s proposal to include the Christmas Fair funds in addition to pledges to reach this goal.
I too wish to put myself on a plan to tithe from my income. I make a pledge to two groups, the vast amount going to St. Paul’s, and a small monthly sum to the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. Last year my weekly pledge to St. Paul’s was $75.00. This year I will be increasing that pledge to $82.50 per week. I’ll make that change in my electronic giving account.
I am writing to thank you for all that you give and do to build up God’s Realm and God’s work for Christ’s sake at St. Paul’s and in Brunswick. I am writing to ask you to prayerfully consider your pledge for 2015. Please complete the enclosed pledge card, give thanks and praise for all God has given us, check out the e-brochure on our website and Facebook page and join us for the First Sunday in Advent, November 30 to make your commitment by placing your pledge card in the alms basin for the Offertory blessing.
Our thanks and gratitude go to the Giving Program Committee: Nancy Keating, Chair, Nate Garwood, Jim Hornor, Cristle Judd, Emily Levine, Caroline Russell and Susan Tyler. And thank YOU for a great first year of ministry together at St. Paul’s!
In deepest gratitude,
The Rev. Carolyn H. Eklund