All Saints’ Day 2013
St. Mark’s continues to be a vibrant, diverse and growing congregation. Over 200 of you are receiving this stewardship letter. We find ourselves once again with the blessing and challenge of supporting and managing our growth strategically while restoring the mission focus of this historic church.
Stewardship in The Episcopal Church means wisely nurturing the gifts given to us. It is most associated with the cultivating of fields, our talents, or the care of children. In the context of this letter, stewardship refers to the care and use of our personal financial resources and the resources of the church. We are preparing our budget for 2014 and asking for your pledges of financial support to reach a new goal.
Our stewardship goal for 2014 is to have the rector live in the rectory apartment. Rectories exist so that clergy can live in the area they serve regardless of the housing market. Our rectory is on 11th street, next to the church and accessible from the West Yard. The basement and first two floors are used by the Neighborhood Preservation Center. The attic floor is an apartment, which was built after the rectory fire of 1988 to house the rector. Before the fire, the entire house was the rector’s residence. In more difficult times a decision was made to rent the rectory apartment to tenants. We have had wonderful tenants over the years, and the church has used that income to support the operating budget. We are now in a position to support more of the mission of the church ourselves. With your help we will be able to stop relying on the rectory apartment as a source of income and instead return to using a portion of the rectory for its intended purpose. This is an act of faith and a restoration of the appropriate stewardship of this church. We have come a long way.
To get the rector back in the rectory, our stewardship goal for 2014 is $150,000. If 100 of us gave $1,500 in 2014, we would meet our goal. Some cannot give that much over the course of a year, and for some $1,500 is too little, and so we believe $150,000 is both a reasonable goal and a challenge that takes account of our growth as a community.
Our annual operating budget is just over $500,000. One third of our budget comes from the congregation. Two thirds of our budget comes from our arts partners who have long-term leases to use our spaces. This year we are eliminating a rental income line for the rectory apartment and eliminating the clergy housing expense line from our operating budget. We need your help to make up the difference.
In a stewardship campaign, we ask you to make a pledge. A pledge is your commitment to give for the coming year. Giving to us does not automatically make you a member of The Episcopal Church or obligate you to anything except payment of your pledge. If you are new to pledging, we are asking you to consider whether you can give $1,500 over the course of 2014. You can pay it at your convenience during 2014. Every vestry member, warden and clergy person associated with St. Mark’s pledges. Some of us pay our pledge by writing a check once or twice a month. Some of us write a check at the beginning or end of the year, some have an automatic debit set up in our bank accounts. It is important for us that you pledge an amount you are confident you can give. We hope you will prayerfully consider your pledge for 2014.
Pledge cards are available at church on Sundays in November and can be mailed to you from the office. We ask you to complete the card and bring it with you to church on Sunday, November 24. During the service there will be a time for all of us to place our pledge cards on the table for a special blessing of our intentions. After the service we will enjoy a Thanksgiving potluck in the Parish Hall in thanksgiving for the many blessings of our community. We are asking you to return your pledge card to us by that date, so that we can have accurate numbers for the 2014 budget, which will be presented at the Annual Meeting after church on Sunday, December 15. If you have any questions or concerns about pledging, please do not hesitate to contact us.
ACCESSIBILITY RAMP PROJECT
What about the ramp, you might be wondering? Our accessibility and portico restoration project is still in process. We are working on final approvals from city agencies, and we will launch a distinct campaign approaching the congregation, major funders and grantors for that work. That work will not be funded from the operating budget, which is supported by the pledges in this campaign.
Yours in faith,
The Rector, Wardens and Vestry of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery