…for we walk by faith, not by sight…
2 Corinthians 5:7
The theme for this year’s Annual Pledge Campaign, We Have Come This Far By Faith, asks us to reflect on our journey together over the past year of pandemic and to cast our gaze forward to God’s preferred future for Grace Church.
When we travel forward in faith, we are reminded of the good company we keep. Scripture is filled with stories of people going on a journey with God, most often ones filled with unknown perils and uncertainty. In the Hebrew Bible, Abraham, by faith, leaves his home to travel to Canaan and then, because of famine, he seeks relief in Egypt. The Israelites are enslaved in Egypt and then God leads them, by cloud and fire, into the Promised Land. Ruth and Naomi, struck by the tragic loss of their family, go with God to find safety in Bethlehem. In the New Testament, Mary and Joseph are traveling through unwelcome land when the Messiah is born. Each of the 12 disciples are called out of their ordinary lives to journey with Jesus, to the cross and beyond. From there, the gospel, shepherded by the Holy Spirit, travels throughout the world.
Since March of 2020, we traveled through the uncharted territory of a global pandemic. This journey affected us as individuals and as communities, as members of our home parishes, the Diocese of Washington, and even the Episcopal Church at large. Above all else, God has sustained us through this journey and it is our faith that has brought us this far.
It is the same faith that has led God’s people for centuries, and we are now invited to share the journey by joining in the renewing work of the Spirit happening all around us. This includes the continued financial support of our churches. More than ever, we must express our love and gratitude by continuing to pledge to the parish that is our spiritual home. There is much to celebrate and there is much to do. We are able to gather freely with our families, friends, and fellow parishioners. We are able to worship God with singing, and we are able to engage in the important work of rebuilding our communities. Throughout the pandemic, the on-going financial commitment of our parishioners permitted Grace to continue to pay clergy and staff as well as provide support for creative and life-giving ministry. Going forward, it will be essential for that support to continue and grow so that we can say, with the saints, that we have come this far by faith, and indeed, the best is yet to come.
Stewardship begins with an understanding that everything we have comes from God. We are blessed in so many different ways by a God who is active in our own lives as well as scripture, history and all of creation. Grateful for the gifts, large and small, which God has given us, we are invited by God to respond to God’s grace by generously giving back, by sharing the gifts and blessings that have been bestowed upon us, and by caring for the world which God has entrusted to us.
Stewardship is about getting involved – giving your time, sharing your gifts and talents, and supporting the church financially. Your involvement enables Grace Church to do its work and ministry. We strongly believe: the more involved you are, the more we can do for God.
The Stewardship Committee is one of the busiest and most important ministries at Grace. Every year, the committee host Ministry Sunday early in September so parishioners can learn (or relearn) about our many ministries and the ways in which they can get involved. In recent years, the Stewardship Committee has also been working on making Grace more environmentally friendly.
Every October, the Stewardship Committee oversees our Every Member Canvass when we ask parishioners to make a financial pledge to Grace for the upcoming year in support of the church’s work and ministry. Our hope and expectation is that all members of the Grace Church family will support the church by making a pledge. The commitment and support of our parishioners enable us to proclaim the Good News of God, to love our neighbors as ourselves and strive for justice and peace among all people.
What is a Pledge?
A pledge is your promise to provide a certain amount of financial support to Grace Church for 2021. Annual pledges and Sunday offerings are the main source of funding for everything we do at Grace Church.
Why Should I Pledge?
Pledging is about your relationship with God and Grace Church.Pledging to Grace Church is different from financial contributions you might make to your alma mater or charitable organizations. A pledge acknowledges that everything we have comes from God. It allows you to share your many blessings while simultaneously furthering God’s mission of love and compassion in the world. Pledging gives you an opportunity to put your faith in action and deepen your connection with God.
Practically speaking, a pledge lets you plan your charitable giving for the year and makes tax accounting easier. A pledge also makes you feel good, like any gift you give from the heart.
In addition, pledging benefits Grace Church. The church depends upon your financial contributions, in addition to your commitment and participation in other parish activities, to do its work and ministry. Making a pledge enables our Vestry to better plan how to use our resources. The Vestry establishes an annual budget based upon the total amount pledged to the church. While regular non-pledged giving is important, a pledge helps the Vestry plan more accurately and better enables our ministries to thrive and grow.
How Do I Fulfill My Pledge?
Returning your pledge card represents your promise to make a financial contribution to Grace Church for 2021. You may pay your pledge on any schedule that suits your needs: weekly, monthly, quarterly, or in one annual payment. If you wish, you may receive a box of numbered envelopes with which you can make your payments.
Any check with your name printed on it that you place in the offering plate on Sunday or send to the Church office will be credited to your pledge. You may also satisfy your pledge with the transfer of stocks, bonds or other marketable securities. Appreciated securities are often excellent for this use, as you receive an income tax deduction for the full market value of the security and incur no tax on the capital gain. For more information on fulfilling you pledge, please contact our Fiscal Officer, Gib Baily, at email@example.com.
How Much Should I Pledge?
Because pledging is about your relationship with God and Grace Church, your pledge should be made thoughtfully and deliberately.
Historically, Christians have shown their gratitude to God by tithing, that is giving one-tenth (10 percent) of their gross income to the church and other charities. We see this throughout the Bible, and so the Episcopal Church and Grace Church Vestry affirm the tithe, encouraging members to tithe or be working toward the tithe.
Of course, we realize that tithing may seem daunting, and at this time in life, you may not be in a position to tithe. One suggestion, then, would be that you commit a certain percentage of your income to the church, say 5 percent or even 2 percent. By committing to proportional giving like this, you actually return to God a portion of what God has given you
All pledges are accepted with deep gratitude and recognition of the sacrifices each of us makes in our lives. If you have not pledged before, please give serious thought to making a pledge this year. If you are among the many generous-hearted people who have pledged before, please consider the possibility of raising your pledge as a way to further support the good works of Grace Church.
If you have any questions about Stewardship or making a pledge, please feel free to speak with Pastor Sarah (301-585-3515) or Linda Baily, the chair of our Stewardship Committee (301-586-8244). They would be happy to speak with you and answer any questions you might have.