To share our gifts
"You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion ..." 2 Corinthians 9:11
St. Mary's Church is a gift from God to all who enter our doors. God has richly blessed us and has shown us time and time again that we can be generous in thanksgiving for His love. By pledging generously to support St. Mary's, we share the gifts God has bestowed upon us to serve all people through worship, outreach, education and fellowship.
What is stewardship?
Stewardship is a spiritual commitment to giving of our time, talent and treasure, and it is based on our belief that we give because we receive. All that we have comes from God and for this we thank God in many ways. Stewardship goes beyond a pledge of financial support – it is a way of life for Christians that is at the center of their relationship with God. The scripture is filled with teachings about the importance of giving and doing so out of a spirit of generosity rather than mere duty.
Episcopal churches use the term “stewardship campaign” to describe the annual effort to collect pledges of financial support from parishioners to support the operating budget for the coming year. Pledging gives us a chance to assess our priorities in a planned and thoughtful way, rather than randomly giving what is “left over” after we have paid for other expenses. In this way, we are intentionally giving from the “first fruits” of our annual harvests and not just from the gleanings.
When people give to the church, they are not just giving to an individual congregation. They are giving to God, because they experience the congregation as a place where God’s work is being done.
Pledging is not a requirement for membership at St. Mary's. There are no membership dues for joining the parish. We do fervently urge you, however, to pledge something -- during the pledge "season" in the fall or at any time of the church year -- regardless of the amount. Each pledge is a treasure.
How do I pledge?
You need to fill out a pledge card, either electronically or in print. Those cards are mailed to members of the congregation in September and are also available at the back of the church all year long. Just fill out a card and return it to the church office or put the card in the collection plate on Sunday.
The easiest way to pledge is to make your pledge online via the St. Mary’s website: www.stmarysardmore.org. Go to the “Giving” tab and choose “Pledge online 2013.” Be sure to complete the security code at the bottom of the form.
When does the pledge campaign take placd?
The stewardship campaign - -or more specifically, the pledge campaign -- typically lasts from six to eight weeks during the fall months. However, parish members can make a pledge at any time during the year.
How do I pay?
You decide on your own schedule of payments whether it be weekly, monthly, annually or on some other timetable.
People usually pay by personal check, but cash is fine also. We provide the option of pledge envelopes, which are numbered by date and identified with your member number, to place your pledge in for the collection plate. These envelopes serve a purpose: they provide the information necessary for the parish bookkeeper to properly acknowledge against your annual pledge amount. In turn, this record keeping provides documentation you may need at tax time. You can choose not to have envelopes for your checks and simply drop them in the collection plate or mail them in to the office.
Note that cash put in the collection plate should be somehow identified with you: either with a note attached or in your own envelope so that St. Mary’s can properly track activity and provide accurate statements to you.
We recently introduced an electronic deposit system, so your pledge can be set up for automatic withdrawals from your bank account. Go to the St. Mary's website, choose the “Giving” tab and go to the “Automatic Payment” option to fill out the appropriate form. Be sure to fill out an online pledge form if you have not already made a pledge.
Some people donate shares of stock as a way of paying their pledge. See details on this website for how to do that.
You will get a quarterly statement and a final year-end statement of the amounts you have donated as part of your pledge. You can use this for your income tax return.
How much should I give?
We encourage parishioners to consider first what proportion of their income they wish to give to the church each year. Tithing is a scriptural tradition of offering 10% of one’s annual abundance back to the work of God, and as such it represents a standard by which to judge our own giving.
We urge all parishioners, both old and new, to calculate the percentage of your income you are currently giving to the church and to other charitable organizations. Decide what your goal is and aim for giving that amount, remembering that generous and sacrificial giving is the norm of Christian stewardship. For many people, it takes some years to gradually increase their giving budget to the percentage they hope to reach. We understand, of course, that not everyone is at a stage in life or in financial circumstances that enable them to give as much as they might wish. And we recognize that many parishioners are already giving generously as a proportion of their income.
Our goal this year is to promote the financial health of the church by cultivating as broad a base of pledge support as we can. If you are able and if you have not pledged before, one option is to jump in at the average giving level at St.Mary's. The mean average pledge is about $1,900 a year and the median (midpoint) pledge amount is $1,000. If you are more comfortable financially and have realtive job or income security, we hope your will give much more.
For those already pledging, we implore you to increase your pledge by at least 5-10%. Keep in mind it currently costs over $8,000 per week or over $3,000 per family unit per year to support the mission and ministries of our parish. In addition, we face challenges of recruiting and supporting a new rector of the caliber we require to guide us where God leads, expanding our outreach activities, maintaining our facilities, and keeping up with the rising cost of health insurance and utility bills.
We are grateful for the consistent generosity of St. Mary’s members even when times are hard. The pledge should represent the foundation of your annual giving to St. Mary's. Gifts to other causes in the parish should be seen as supplementing that core support.
What if my financial situation changes during the year?
You may cancel, decrease or increase your pledge at any time during the calendar year. No explanation is necessary.
How much of the parish operating budget comes from pledges?
Half of the budget is covered by income from pledges and other member giving (e.g. cash in collection plate). Another 43% comes from income from St. Mary’s endowment. The remainder comes from rents and from corporate matches to individual pledges.