Dear First Pres,
We, the Session of First Presbyterian Church, are reaching out to you today as part of our commitment to keep you in theloop on our financial health as a congregation. And, we have good news to share—with a small request as well.
First, the request: As you may remember, our total budgeted expenses for this year (2023) are ~$338,000. Our goal was, and is, to receive pledges to cover at least $300,000 of those expenses. To date, we have received sixty-one (61) pledges totaling ~$282,000—just about $18,000 shy of our goal.
If you have already pledged and know that you might be able to give a little bit more, we would be ever-so grateful—even $50 more would go a long way.
If you intend to give financially to First Pres this year but have not yet pledged, we ask that you submit a pledge today and let us know. The pledge does not commit you to contractually pay that amount—it simply helps us know what to expect so we can plan our spending accordingly.
If you are new to our congregation, this is all news to you! We’re so delighted that you’re with us and we hope that you will join us in ministry with your time, talent, and also with your financial support. Even $50 will make a big difference!
To add to or to make a pledge, please send an email our Stewardship Team at email@example.com. Indicate the amount of your pledge and how you would like to fulfill the pledge (weekly, monthly, lump sum/check, credit card, investment or directed fund, etc.).
Now, for the good news!
As a church, we have been experiencing a shift inour culture. With joy and with hope, we are becoming a community of generous disciples—and this is about more than giving financially. It’s about our practice of faith and our calling to love and serve. Here are some ways we can tell this is happening:
- We have been moving our focus away from fund development and towards people/spiritual development.
Over the last couple of years, we have invested time and energy into areas of ministry that draw us into community more meaningfully and encourage us to nourish our spiritual well-being. Here are some examples of how:
- Our worship is lively, engaging, and nourishing as we gather intergenerationally. All are truly welcome to worship God no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or age and this expansive invitation has enriched our worship experience greatly.
- Rather than offer many different periodic events to connect as community, we focused our energy into small group Bible Studies. For the last year, groups have gathered to learn God’s Word and to build meaningful relationships every two weeks!
- Rather than separate families and silo out age groups, the Household Huddle has enabled people of all ages to grow in faith together. The children of our church are becoming more connected with adults other than their parents, providing a wider foundation of trust, love and care for them as they grow.
- Rather than give a little amount of money to several different non-profit mission partners, the Social Justice Committee has deepened our most meaningful connections with a few mission partners (IRIS, Columbus House, CCA), enabling us to give financially as well as with our time and talent/volunteer hours.
- We have been moving our focus away from scarcity and towards sufficiency.
Prior to 2022, our annual budgets predicted that we would spend more than we would bring in from the congregational pledges. Of course, we had Surplus Fund from which we could draw to cover our expenses. However, these deficit budgets shaped our thinking. We were prone to believe that there was not really enough for us to live on long-term. We were prone to see the monies in the bank more as a safety net. Wary of this proclivity, we moved away from a scarcity mindset and moved towards believing in God’s provision.
When approaching the budget for 2023, we resisted reducing line-items or identifying areas to cut. Instead, we evaluated our priorities, consulted with various committees, and built a budget that would be true to the work we are called to do as a church. Then, with a clear and true sense of what it actually costs to be our church, the Session asked the congregation to raise the full amount that is needed—and we’re nearly there.
Like daily manna in the wilderness for the Israelites, we believe that our our annual budget will be met and our responsibilities tended to. AND because we trust this, we can, with joy and confidence, turn our attention to allocating our resources (such as gifts from the Redeemer Church and from the estate of Anita and Lee Shaffer) according to the mission Christ calls us to in the world.
- We have been moving from being consumers of church to being community members in the church.
During the pandemic, a recorded worship service was delivered to you by way of YouTube. You could sit comfortably at home, perhaps in your pj’s with your cup of coffee or tea, perhaps on your phone with social media apps open. You were able to consume the service at your convenience and your spiritual and faithful response was between you and your God.
But now, we get to be together. We get to gather together in the worship space, in fellowship, in service. We get to sing together, pray together, reach out and pass the peace to each other. We get to practice our faith together. Of course, you can still receive the worship service via YouTube, but your experience is more embodied these days. You can sign up to take turns in leadership—being an usher, being the liturgist, sitting in the Copeland Room to get to know the children, preparing communion and serving dinner at Columbus House. Each of us can share the responsibilities as well as the delights of our life together and it feels good to do this together.
Friend, you are an important member of this Body of Christ. We are grateful for your witness of God’s generous love and for your participation in this community. We are growing in faith together and for this, we give God thanks.
The Session of the First Presbyterian Church of New Haven