Dear Christ & St. Lukes,
Our theme this year— “To Know and Be Known”—was chosen to remind us that belonging and participation in a community are essential components of the Christian life. The love we are commanded to exercise in service of one another depends on a network of interconnected relationships through which such love can flow. The Church, as the purveyor of the Christian faith and practice, must live by the principle that we are all members of one body, connected and interdependent. We are made to be together and to work together. This is why we have made the formation of community the focal point for the coming year at Christ & St. Luke’s. It is essential to deepening our Christian faith and life.
This message is especially important because over the last twelve months we have seen our community grow at a rapid rate. Our Sunday morning attendance has increased over 25% in that time, which is a wonderful blessing, considering opposite trends in the Episcopal Church and across the current landscape of American Christianity. Every single one of our ministries and programs has expanded: our children and youth programs, our small group ministries, and our choirs, to name but a few. We are reaching more and more people through our livestreamed services and our outreach ministries, and we have strengthened our partnerships with organizations across the city. And we’re doing all of this with only half a building and a single indoor adult bathroom! This growth is a gift, but it is also the reason we want to focus on building up relationships over the coming year, so that our whole parish, our new and longtime members, can feel known and at home here.
Thanks to your generosity last year, we were able to meet our strategic goals and enlarge our staff in order to handle this growth, while also setting ourselves up to continue to expand our ministries and programs to help people deepen their relationships with God and one another. As we open our new building to even more activity and welcome in the Williams School Preschool at Christ & St. Luke’s next year, and as we continue to provide a place to know God and be known by God through transcendent worship, inspiring preaching, edifying teaching, opportunities for fun and fellowship, and outreach and pastoral care, we must be prepared to continue to financially support our church. While this growth is exciting, naturally, there are financial costs that grow with it. We are forecasting that between inflation and this exciting new growth, our budget next year will have to increase around 20%. There will be significantly more costs associated with operating our new building, from the usual utilities to the increased number of supplies (we’ll need everything from more printer paper to more toilet paper!). Healthcare costs for our staff continue to rise and we are committed to adequately compensating a team that has led our church into this season of expansion through less than ideal working conditions. At the same time, we feel it is our Christian calling to continually try and grow the amount of money we put towards initiatives that benefit those outside our walls through increasing our outreach funding.
The good news is that this year we do not have to come back to you for any new pledges to our Capital Campaign. As our renovations reach the finish line, if pledges continue to be paid on time and in full, we will have enough money to complete the work. We are in this advantageous position entirely due to your generosity and commitment to this place, and we are so very grateful. That means this year we can focus exclusively on asking you to make a single pledge to our 2024 annual operating budget, which will help us continue to meet the needs of our growing parish so we may continue to meet the needs of a world desperately seeking love and hope and connection.
We cannot do that work without your participation. Parishioner pledge payments account for almost 90% of our annual operating budget, and one of the ways that we show our participation in and love for a community is through our financial commitment to it. In that spirit, our stewardship goal this year is not a total amount of money, but a total level of participation. We want every member of our parish to make known your gratitude and love for Christ & St. Luke’s through a pledge of financial support. If you pledged last year, we sincerely hope you will pledge again, and we ask you to consider an increase that will help us keep pace with increased costs. If you are one of the many people who are new to our parish, or if you have never pledged, we hope you will also make a commitment to our community with a show of financial support. Between past pledgers who are willing to pledge again and consider a higher amount, and the many new pledgers we are hoping will participate for the first time this year, we have faith that we will have the resources we need to continue our work and to build on it in 2024.
To make a pledge you can fill out the enclosed pledge card and return it to the parish in the self-addressed envelope provided. You may also visit christandstlukes.org/pledge to make an online pledge and set up automatic payments. This way your pledge can be paid regularly throughout the year. Pledges can also be fulfilled by gifts of appreciated stock or qualified charitable distributions from IRAs. If you have questions about how to make or pay your pledge, you may speak with Joe Painter, our 2024 Stewardship Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Michelle Sturges, our Business Administrator (email@example.com).
We ask you to please make your pledges by Sunday, November 12.
The Holy Spirit is moving in the life of our church right now. It is a Spirit of community and of care; a Spirit of faith, hope, and love. It is a Spirit of generosity. We have been led through seasons of challenge and change, and we are coming to a time when all that work, all that patience, and all that sacrifice is about to blossom, making Christ & St. Luke’s even more fully a place where we know and make known the love of God. We are so glad that you are a part of this parish. Thank you for all that you have given, and all that you will continue to give to support it.
With love and prayers,