Probably the best done piece inviting our generosity that I’ve ever seen is the pictorial sheet mailed to you with your pledge card, sporting a green header: First Congregational Church of Darien—Vibrant, Authentic, and Here For You. Just a smattering of words and 41 pictures of us.
The photos tell a thousand stories. Pictures of fast, loving friends who show up when it matters most. Pictures of worshipping in our Meetinghouse at high holy days and on the lawn with four-legged friends. Pictures of our choir and confirmation class. Pictures of children and elders sharing an intergenerational journey. Pictures of serving neighbors–local, regional, and global. I keep picking it up, smiling at its many stories, and appreciating what God hath wrought at FCC.
That sheet Karen Brennan assembled for our pledge campaign makes sense of why the pledge card requests a healthy increase in your giving. Let me explain. Among our many blessings last year, foremost among them is adding Gary and Erica Morello to our staff and church fellowship.
Just months ago, we didn’t believe that could happen. But with God, all things become possible. Gary has added so much to our church it is now hard to imagine our FCC, Darien—vibrant and alive–without him. But while we did fully subscribe our 2016 budget with our pledges at this time last year, the budget increased again just weeks into 2016 as we called Gary to be pastor. We have been dipping into savings to cover this outstanding investment. And failing to cover for our budget expenses as we go is not our style. We need to step up to consolidate our gains.
So this is context for why the pledge card lists what your 15% increase in giving would look like. While I am at it, let me give you more of the lay of the land (and the building!) at 14 Brookside.
Right now six massive 1,800 pound steel I-beam trusses are being fitted into our Meetinghouse ceiling. Sometime early in 2017 this will spell the end of a 30 yard, 7 month exile from worship in the Meetinghouse into the Parish Hall. Please notice our designs as we have gone about this.
We have not mounted a lengthy, consuming, encompassing Capital Campaign to remediate and repair our building for two reasons. One, we wanted back in the Meetinghouse as soon as possible. Two, we sought to protect your ability to give to the ministries our budget represents.
Seriously, as that household giving the Challenge Gift to cover half of the building expenses will affirm, and the 20 households who inch us close to our goal will attest, the church isn’t the building. The church is the people, God’s active presence among us, and ministry flowing forth.
These lead givers covering so much expense to repair our spiritual home have freed you up to give generously toward everything happening here, everything God would have us be about. Realize it or not, you’ve been shielded from requests for thousands of extra dollars to repair our building. This was to put you in the position to step up right now, and propel us into the future.
Join Cecile and me this Thanksgiving/Stewardship Celebration Sunday to place your pledge card in the basket at the front of the Parish Hall during our extended offertory. God has uniquely equipped us for this moment, given us everything we need to meet the challenge, and to thrive.