Last Sunday, we gathered informally after the 8:00 am service and after the 10:00 am service for a State of the Church Forum to hear Reverend Nick talk about what is happening at Epiphany. Rev. Nick’s message was clear: We are a vibrant and growing parish. We continue to see new energy and vitality as we welcome new visitors every week, welcome new households who call Epiphany their home, and many of us are deepening our connection with each other and our faith through attending one or many of our programs this year: Parent Book Groups, Parent Conversation Series, Church School, Grades 6-12 activities, Rev. Nick’s Discover Course, Faith Circles, Midweek, Word & Table, and eagerly looking forward to next Sunday’s launch of J2J (Journey to Justice) after the 10:00 am service.
We also explored how we fund the budget that supports these activities. During our fall stewardship campaign, we as a parish community determine the revenue that will support our budget for the following year, and every household is invited to join inmaking a pledge to financially support our worship community for the coming year. Historically, pledges have represented 90% of our revenues, and our vestry uses the pledge totals to build the next year’s budget for clergy and staff salaries, program costs, and building maintenance that are the nuts and bolts of what we do together as a parish.
In 2023, salaries and benefits were the largest item in our budget (54%), followed by property (18%, including a significant annual provision to our maintenance fund), Journey to Justice (formerly Mission & Outreach) and Diocesan Support (13%), and our various programs and ministries. See the chart below for details:
Our $1.2 million goal this year supports sustaining existing programs, increases in salaries and health insurance costs, inflationary increases in property-related costs, and the annual increase in our assessed contribution to the Diocese. We are also hoping to increase our median pledge from 2023’s median of $2,400 to something closer to $5,500 in order to reduce our reliance on the small group of households (20) whose pledges currently cover 42% of our operating budget. If you read nothing else in this message, please read this: While this is an important goal, we want to make sure that everyone hears that the $5,500 median is not intended to be an individual challenge. It is a collective goal to distribute our pledges more evenly in order to make our budget more sustainable. Please be assured that the pledge that is right for you is exactly where you should be, and we are immensely grateful for your contribution to our lives together. For some that number may sound insanely high and for some it is a good reminder that, unlike the contributions we make to many organizations, our pledge here at Epiphany represents our share of the budget that supports our life together. It is hard to craft a message that each of us will hear in the way that God is calling us to listen. Thank you, friends, to each of you for who you are and for all the ways that you come together to make us who we are.
The vestry and stewardship committee encourage anyone who wants to know more about our hopes for 2024 or who would like a more in-depth discussion of the details behind these numbers to reach out to us. You may connect with us individually, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to talk to you!
The Ingathering will be celebrated on Sunday, November 5, where during the 8:00 am and 10:00 am services we will rejoice and give thanks to God for our pledging gifts for the upcoming year. We welcome you to stay after the 10:00 am service to continue in celebration of our parish life together with a New England-themed Ciderfest, an Epiphany tradition featuring friendship, apple cider donuts, and cider.
Nelia Newell and Heather Keith-Lucas, Stewardship Co-Chairs