What does good stewardship mean? Simply, it financially supports our beloved community of the Parish of the Epiphany in many ways. It ensures that the assets of the Parish are preserved and appropriately maintained. It ensures that long term, the inflows and outflows of cash stay in balance so the programs of the Parish can be maintained and reshaped as appropriate. In short, it ensures we have a future.
Different committees have responsibility for various aspects of Stewardship.
The Property Committee, for example, is responsible for the physical condition and maintenance of buildings and the surrounding land. The Investment Committee is responsible for endowment management. The Finance Committee, through its budgeting and monthly reporting processes, ensures that operating expenditures match revenues and that we not invest more in facilities and programs than we have money for.
What is the role of the Stewardship Committee in this context? Very simply, it is responsible for raising money from annual parishioner pledges to support the ongoing operations and mission of the Church. How important is this? The answer is VERY! 95% of all operating revenue of Epiphany in 2019 comes from parishioner pledges. The Episcopal Church is not like the Catholic Church where money from a central diocese is allocated to the individual parishes. (In fact, in the Episcopal Church local parishes like us pay the Diocese a tax). Almost everything we do as a Parish is supported by our pledges which are made each year. If we were to have a 50% shortfall in pledges, that would mean a necessary 50% reduction in expenses over a year or two. Pledging is vital to the health of Epiphany. The role of the Stewardship Committee is to make sure pledging happens in abundance.
Fortunately, Epiphany is one of the strongest and generous Parishes in the Diocese. As Co-Chair of the last Diocesan Campaign, I can personally testify to our strength knowing the situation at over 150 other Parishes. Epiphany was in the first wave of collaborative Parish and Diocesan fund raising. No Parish was more supportive and effective in this initiative of Bishop Shaw's.
The biblical story of the fishes and the loaves resonates. If the Parish is threatened by unexpected fiscal challenges, we are blessed that there are those in the wings with resources who can and will help with special projects and challenges (in the absence of a crisis, they deploy the funds elsewhere). Look no further than the recent elevator project, which was deemed unfinanceable at one time, and now funded and almost completed.
2020 is a very important year for Epiphany as we search for our new rector. We are making a decision that will profoundly impact our next decade. It is important in this context that we present our best face to potential new rectors. That means preserving and keeping our major ministries flourishing with all their vibrancy and energy. It means we deliberately set our Annual Fund pledge target the same as last year to keep our momentum. A candidate should not worry that she/he will be immediately challenged with fund raising. It will be not easy to meet our goal for 2020 because many of us will need to do more than we have in the past. In the transition of rectors, inevitably some people will leave the Parish and other potential joiners will want to wait until they see the new rector, so our pledging unit numbers may drop.
The Wardens and the Parish leadership have all personally stepped up. When I make the formal announcement of the Campaign launch on October 27, I will announce 100% participation has already been achieved by the Vestry, the Search Committee, and the Stewardship Committee in the "Building for Tomorrow" ~ 2020 campaign. Additionally, many have already substantially increased their pledges from that of 2019 (in addition, of course, are the thousands of volunteer hours, given by our parishioners. Good stewardship requires large amounts of volunteer time as well as money to do all that we aspire to).
In conclusion, we need your support at this critical juncture as we move confidently forward as a community of faith. Our campaign title is "Building for Tomorrow," and aims to provide a firm fiscal foundation for the Parish's growth and transformation. As a result we will welcome a new rector to a thriving active and financially healthy beloved community!
Warren McFarlan, Chair of Stewardship Committee