I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was very good and your observance of the Advent season has gotten off to a great start. Of course, the end of the calendar year is not far off and between now and then there will be lots happening in the life of Calvary UMC.
In addition to all of the worship services, programs, events, and parties, there’s also business-as-usual that goes on. At Calvary we are tending to a couple of those “business-as-usual” items known as budgets. We are working to round out 2013 in strong shape and trying to pin down a positive, faithful budget for next year. There are a couple of ways you can help.
First, as 2013 begins to draw to a close, our expenditures versus income for this year suggest that if December giving follows the trend for the rest of the year, Calvary will end up with a deficit of about $150,000. Now, I have heard from folks with reliable memories that December’s giving usually is not typical; that is, offerings and gifts in December tend to outpace the rest of the year. It is also true that in living memory, December offerings that would allow the church to cover a deficit of $150,000, have been rare. However, I don’t have any reason to believe we can’t do it. Admittedly, my history as Calvary’s pastor totals five months; but already, you give me cause to be full of hope. If you made an annual pledge for 2013, and have not yet fulfilled it, please do so, if you are able. Also, if you can make an extra-mile gift that goes above and beyond your regular offering or tithe, that would be most welcome and very helpful. A few wise people have shared with me that some folks may wish to make gifts of stock or, perhaps, some would wish to direct required IRA distributions to be given as tax-deductible donations to the church. You may have other thoughts about other financial modes of giving. I’d welcome those suggestions and will be happy to share them.
Second, following this year’s Consecration Sunday, 183 “Estimate of Giving” cards have been turned in, totaling a little over $917,000. This is a good start, although it does seem to be trailing last year’s figures. The Finance Committee diligently uses these estimates to craft Calvary’s annual budget. So, if your household has not completed an “Estimate of Giving” card for 2014, but plans to, please let us know. If you need a card, just call the church office and we’ll be glad to get one to you. If you’d rather, you could also call our Financial Manager, Melinda Grigsby, at the church and she’ll gladly add your pledge to our growing total. Our Finance Committee and Church Council hope to adopt a 2014 budget by the middle of December 19 and all estimates of giving that have come in by that time will be useful in making those budgetary plans.
As you know, budgets, incomes, and expenditures are part of the church’s life. I expect this was God’s intention all along. After all, God has not placed the church floating above the realities of this world but has plunked us down right in the middle of them. And why not? That’s what God has done in Jesus Christ: gotten down into the nitty-gritty of life in the world. That’s the incarnation. That’s what we wait for during Advent. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas. And make no mistake, how we use our money, including how we give, is one of the most tangible incarnations of our faith.
God’s peace to you,
Pastor Bryan Brooks