Stronger Together—United Methodist Connectional Giving
One of the first things my family did when we were preparing to move to Oregon last year was reevaluate our budget to make sure that we were living within in our means. We budgeted basic living expenses first (like housing and food) then added all of our standing obligations (car payments and tithes). Then we budgeted for the things that are important to us but are not necessary (like saving for a vacation and entertainment). Finally, we allocated what we could to friviolous things (like eating out once in awhile and renting movies). Having a well-planned budget helps us be good stewards of our resources, make sure we are meeting our responsiblities, and helps us decide what is most important with the money we have leftover.
Just like budgeting is important to my family, so is it an important aspect of the financial health of the church. Each year your finance team asks you to make a best-guess estimate of how much of your charitable giving will go to St. Paul’s, then we use that data to plan a responsible budget that will allow us to live within our means. Most important in that budget are our standing obligations—like upkeep of our building and paying for a pastor .
One of our standing obligations is Approtioned giving. Apportionments are based on a forumla that considers our income, pastoral salary, and other factors set by the conference. This year our portion is $30,000.
Apportionments are a method of giving that proportionally allocates the churchwide budget to conferences and local churches. Together, through our connected congregations, we accomplish what no single church could hope to do alone. In this way, each individual, each family, each congregation gives a fair share for the church’s work. We combine our prayers, presence, gifts and service to make a significant difference in the lives of God’s people. Apportionments pay for our connectional ministries and ground-level mission work here in Oregon, and across the global church.
In order to accurately reflect the money pledged, balance our budget and be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us,
we made the decision to remove apportionments from our budget. Even though it is not a part of our line-item budget, paying our apportionments is still our responsibility. In order to be faithful to the connectional obligation that comes with being United Methodists, we are going to dedicate the month of May to celebrating connectional giving and learning more about where our apportionments go. You will hear stories about how giving has changed people’s lives. You will also receive in the mail a pledge card for our special apportionment fund drive, and instructions about how you can do your part to help us fulfil this important obligation. I will ask you to commit to contributing towards our apportionment fund what you are able—and what the Spirit leads you to give.
Then, on Pentecost, June 4th, I invite you to attend our special Miracle Sunday culmination of the special fund drive, where we will consecrate our giving and celebrate meeting our obligation in full for the first time in a few years.
In my family, it is a great joy in knowing that our financial obligations are met. Likewise, there is great joy in store for our congregation as we faithfully support the United Methodist connection and use that with which God has entrusted us to make disciples and to transform the world for Jesus Chrsit! Together, we are, indeed, stronger!
Love, Pastor Becca
Spring is in the air
Wow, it has been a long winter, hasn’t it? It seems that we have had endless days of snow, ice, wind and rain, and even now that it is officially spring, the rainy days continue. Even in the midst of the rain, however, we are beginning to see signs of hope! The sun is peaking out behind storm clouds and rain drops. Flowers are breaking through the muddy flower beds. People are preparing their gardens for planting, and every once in awhile, it’s warm enough to venture out without a jacket.
Even though it is still wet and cold, this truly is my favorite time of year! Everything is renewing and opening up. There are a few birds in the sky, and I saw a couple of goslings in the back yard. Bit by bit, the sky is getting bluer, the sun is shining more, and the breeze, while not yet warm, is bringing with it the scents of spring. I also love the lengthening days.
My family is certainly enjoying the changing season. We have been enjoying walks in our neighborhood on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, we’ve broken out the BBQ grill, and we’re doing yard work and spring cleaning to clean away the dust and dampness of winter.
Just when I felt like winter would last forever, I was reminded that seasons change–spring replaces winter, and new life waits just under the melting snow.
What a great reminder of the new life God offers us through Jesus Christ! Just like icy covered trees will soon be budding, and green shoots are peeking through the soil in our flower beds, and caterpillars will soon become butterflies, God is making something new out you and me too. Slowly but surely, God melts our hearts and opens our eyes to the many blessings in our life and, at the same time, the many needs that surround us. God is making all things new, in our world AND in us.
This Easter, pray that God will mold you into something new. Ask for a heart that is receptive to the needs of the poor in our community—eyes to see their pain, hands that are willing to work, and the right words to offer hope, share God’s love, and talk about your faith. This is what it means to be a disciple: to serve the poor, love your neighbor, and share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Enjoy the warmer weather and the signs of Spring, and remember the reason for this— and every—season: Jesus.
Love, Pastor Becca
Even as the snow flurries outside my picture window, I look at the calendar and the upcoming “Spring Forward” time change and realize that spring is coming soon! I like spring and the opportunity for renewal, restoration and restarting that it offers each year. In my house, spring starts with decluttering, dusting, rearranging and a number of other “spring cleaning” tasks.
In the Christian calendar, the season preceding Easter is known as Lent. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts 40 days, not counting Sundays which are considered glimpses of Easter, and not days of penitence. Lent is a season of preparation. We prepare for Easter by fasting, praying, and practicing spiritual discipline during this time – to reflect on the sacrifices Jesus made, and to make more room in our hearts and lives for Christ. Basically, Lent is a time for “spring cleaning” our lives while giving thanks, strengthening our faith and renewing our relationship with God. read more…
It has been a busy new year already, hasn’t it? It seems we have more to do than we have the hours or energy to get done, and we are always finding more things that need our attention. We’ve also experienced unusual weather that has complicated our ability to get our and accomplish our “To Do” lists.
At the same time, the political and social unrest in our country weighs heavy on our hearts, and we want desperately to act with justice and mercy as scripture requires, but we aren’t sure how to respond. All of this together makes souls weary and begs the question, “How are we caring for ourselves in the midst of chaos?”
This means it is a good time to remind ourselves about “Sabbath.” Remember, that after God did all the creative work of designing and forming the universe, the oceans and continents, the animals and plant life, and human beings, God then spent a whole day at rest—a day of renewal and reflection on how God had spent the first six days of the week.
“No one can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending” (Author unknown)
Happy New Year! It is 2017, a brand new beginning, and here we are with a brand new calendar and a brand new set of resolutions.
What are your New Year resolutions? I have four: 1) Walk 10000 steps per day, 2) spend more time as a family interacting and less time in front of the TV, 3) do a random act of kindness every day, and 4) bookend my day with time with God through prayer and devotions, every morning and every night. read more…
It’s December, and the holiday season and Christmas is coming soon! This past weekend Jeremy, Araina, Liam and I put up our Christmas lights and decorated the tree, did all of our Christmas gift shopping, and started our annual “watch every Christmas movie we own” adventure. In the weeks to come, we will bake a lot of cookies, spend time with family, and celebrate this wonderful season.
Because, after all, it is the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR.
Only, for some of us, it’s not.