West Chelmsford United Methodist Church
Sunday, March 01, 2015
I recently saw our church’s end-of-the-year financial statement, and it contains some very good news. We ended the year not only able to pay our bills, but with a surplus! It is a result few of us would have thought possible just 18 months ago, and is worthy of celebrating.
In May and June of 2013 our Finance Committee noticed that our operating deficit was growing month-by-month. At one point we were estimating that we would end 2013 with a $30,000 deficit. Our Administrative Board decided in June of 2013 that we could not continue in this way, and appointed a task force to look at our stewardship (giving) and what we could do to remedy the situation.
The task force met several times over the summer and reflected on our situation in light of our faith. We then put together a plan to address the situation. We decided to use the Consecration Sunday program for our pledge drive in the fall of that year. In the meantime we scheduled a “Tithe Sunday” in September when we encouraged our congregation to give 10% of their income for that one Sunday. The Tithe Sunday gave us a substantial increase in our giving for that Sunday, and eased our deficit concerns a bit. Our actual deficit for 2013 turned out to be over $14,000 (better than we had projected), which we paid out of some of our reserve funds.
As most of you saw, the Consecration Sunday program focused on God’s call to us to give a percentage of our income, and challenged us to “take a step up” to increase our giving. Rev, Rick McKinley was our guest leader on Consecration Sunday that year. Though it took some months to gather all of our pledges, we ultimately saw a 24% increase in pledged income for 2014 compared to 2013! Now, some of that reflected persons who had been giving regularly before who now actually made a written pledge, which in itself is a step of faith, but doesn’t necessarily represent an increase in income for the church.
We now know that our pledged income increased by 11% for 2014 over the previous year. In dollar amounts that came to a $21,974 increase. Since our expenses remained about the same as 2013, that meant we went from a $14,000 deficit to a $5835 surplus.
This outcome is a testimony to the faithful giving of our congregation. When we repeated the Consecration Sunday program this past fall for our 2015 pledges, we had another increase – this time around 5%. God continues to work among us as we grow in our faith and in our giving.
We are grateful to all of the good volunteers in our church who have led us in this important work. I am especially grateful to the members of that original Stewardship Task Force in 2013: Mike Warren, Andi Hoff, Rev. Wendell Luke, Sarah Laflamme, Frank Little, Kathy Lawless and Thad Russell.