*A stewardship update
We have $94,000 in pledges in hand. If you haven't turned your card in yet, you are the one we are waiting for! We have already done more than we imagine possibly at this time last year. What a year 2013 will be!
In March of 2012 St. Mark’s Church elected its 13th Rector. We begin this campaign one week before the service that celebrates this accomplishment. In the Spring of 2012 St. Mark’s took part in a funding competition and won the first significant grant for the building in a generation. Both of these milestones reflect a mission-focused, revitalized congregation, able to reach out confidently to others. As well as we are doing, each new accomplishment brings with it new responsibilities.
St. Mark’s builds its budget based upon four sources of income: pledges and gifts from the congregation, long term leases to our three resident arts projects, rental of one apartment in the Rectory next door to the church, and some additional space rental. We do not have an endowment from which we draw income. The Rectory apartment we lease to a tenant is intended to be housing for our clergy but now provide income we count on to keep the church functioning. At this point in our history, the leases are still a primary source of income, but congregational giving is becoming a more significant resource, and it can mean for us the capacity to reach out to our community and spread the Good News which builds up the congregation, pay our staff properly, and restore and maintain this historic site. We do well with what we have, but we are not yet working with a budget that is adequate for the work we must do.
I believe our primary mission as a church is to the un-churched. By that I mean that on Sunday mornings, people who have found churches to be hurtful or irrelevant places, who now seek a relationship with God, a deepening of their personal spirituality, a more formal affiliation with church or a place to connect their sense of social justice to their understanding of God and community find us. The majority of our visitors and new members seek us out through their friends, the internet and our website, and show up on Sunday hoping we might be what we say we are. Overwhelmingly, we are. This change has meant that our Sunday service is evolving because we have many more people and more congregational participation. It means that the new, the newer and the long time member might not know who is whom and substantive welcome becomes the work of every member of the congregation and a primary focus of the church. It means we have to define more clearly who we are so that new members can have some framework with which to consider joining us.
In the church we believe that everything we have is a gift from God. It is a liberating idea. Your talents and those things you like in your life are obviously gifts, but also those things that might feel like burdens, we say are gift a potential site for ministry and blessing, and we believe that those things we feel that we have earned are gift. A sense of thankfulness for gifts can be a tool to fight hubris and vanity, and according to the Gospel, it is the truth. We are not better or worse than those who believe they have earned less or more. Stewardship, the using of our gifts, specifically our money, is a spiritual discipline, a centering of our heart and soul in which we frame our understanding of how we are to live.
When you get your pledge card in the mail, or pick it up in church, I ask you to put it somewhere prominent in your daily life to consider prayerfully until Sunday, November 4 when we will collect them and celebrate our community with a potluck lunch after church. We are asking you to invest yourself in us, and show the leadership of this community your support as they work to be strategic in planning to fulfill our mission in 2013. Often those that volunteer the most selflessly of their time and effort are also our largest pledgers. That pledge amount is not just about income and expenses, it is about ordering your life so that your money works for what you value. Your spending reflects your priorities and the passions of your heart. Give yourself that opportunity in your pledge for 2013. The custom of the church is 10% of your income, the tithe, is our obligation to the church. We know that might not be where you are yet, understanding that faithful Christians work towards making the tithe their discipline. Our goal is to raise $100,000 from our 100+ members in 2013. Some of us have very limited means, so that means some will need to do more. I will. I invite you to do the same and to be realistic about what you can truly give. These pledges are how we build our 2013 budget so if they are not accurate, we have to cut programming later in the year. Please consider your pledge prayerfully.
Among us, we have everything we need for the ministries of this church. Let us have the courage to offer our gifts. Thank you for all you do for St. Mark’s Church.
Yours in Christ (officially and for real),
Thank you for your generous gifts for the Institution and Induction of our 13th Rector! We have some beautiful new pieces to use in Sunday worship.
If you would still like to make a gift, an offering for the Priest's Discretionary Fund will be taken up at the service. If you would like to make a gift towards the expenses of the day, please indicate that with your gift.
We are planning a festive weekend of services and celebrations for October 20th and 21st. On Saturday, October 20 at 11AM, we will celebrate the Institution and Induction of the 13th Rector of St. Mark's in the Bowery, The Rev. Winnie Varghese, with Bishop Barbara Harris preaching and Bishop Andy Dietsche presiding. On Sunday, October 21, Bishop Harris, a world renowned preacher and Anglican leader, will be with us again to celebrate confirmations, receptions and renewals of vows. To help place this weekend in context, the 12th Rector of St. Mark's was instituted in 1974. These events don't come around too often.
We were not aware that we would be able to call a Rector in 2012 while we were planning the budget in the Fall of 2011. This weekend is not in the budget! In this year of much growth and new money through grants, all of the new money we received is designated for the restoration of the church building. We need your support to live within our means and celebrate this occasion. We are writing to ask for extra support to honor this milestone appropriately.
Our costs include invitations, sprucing up the building, and a reception for our many guests on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday will be less formal, and we will have an opportunity to bring a dish to share. Saturday will be a grand event. We anticipate providing a reception for 250-300 people. Because of the nature of the weekend, we believe it will be too much work for the congregation to provide food for both days, and we would like the congregation as well as guests to enjoy the celebration of this important day in our history in a manner fitting its significance for St. Mark's. We are asking for your help to cover these costs.
We also have the opportunity to give gifts to the church and the new Rector on this occasion.
The items below have been identified as priorities to supplement and improve what we currently use on Sundays.
2 decanters cost $139 each
1 St. Philips Cross cost $2,520
Some have asked if it is possible to give a gift to Rev. Winnie or to her discretionary fund. A gift to her discretionary fund would be a gift to the account from which she is able to support those in need who come to her for help and organizations that help people in need. Those gifts can be made out to "Priest's Discretionary Fund" and are tax deductible.
A gift for her personal use should be designated as such. Those gifts can be given individually to Rev. Winnie or made out to the church with "gift for Rev. Winnie" in the memo line for a tax deduction. Those gifts received through the church office will be collected and one check written to Rev. Winnie.
We look forward to a full church on both days to celebrate this new chapter in the life of St. Mark's Church. Thank you for all you do for our community and for your continued support