October 26, 2021
Dear Siblings in Christ,
As I have come to know you in the short time that I have been here, I have come to understand Haller Lake United Methodist church as a people who faithfully love and act out of that love. This year, as we seek to build a budget that represents who we are, we are focusing on our mission statement as one articulation of who we are.
We are building an inclusive community that glorifies God and helps people follow Jesus’ loving guidance by worshipping vibrantly, growing spiritually, and faithfully serving the needs of our community and world.
In the very center of the mission statement is Jesus’ love. This fall, we have pondered God’s steadfast love during our first worship series and we have considered the need for rest in God’s love throughout our second worship series. Our church has been through a period of upheaval and hard work to keep going during the pandemic and to make sure that the church could function when the building was largely closed. After such a period, it is right and good to take time to rest and be held in God’s love. Also, there are some who have been working hard throughout what may have felt like a rest for many. Our musicians and our A/V team have been able to rest from their work only for short periods, and only by pre-recording or pre-arranging all their tasks. Our love for God and each other must motivate our next steps.
When it comes time to move out of a period of rest, as we are surely doing as a church, there is need for much discernment and much prayer. There is need for many voices to help us hear God’s voice. There is a need for those who have been carrying burdens to lay them down and for others to pick them up. As we seek to continue the work of returning to in person worship, different from who we were before quarantine, we return to our mission.
This next year will have challenges in fulfilling that mission. We will need to judiciously move more fully into partnerships in our community and neighborhood to do the work that we are called to do in a new reality. We will need to meet our neighbors and listen to them and be changed by what we hear. We will need to choose to not do some things we have loved doing before because they aren’t consistent with our mission. We will need to address questions of what the highest and best uses of our properties are. We will need to allow those who have carried the heavy burdens to lay them down and encourage others to share the load. It will require all of us.
That’s why I’m writing to you, asking you to make a pledge to our church by November 21, 2021. Your pledge is an opportunity to set an intention to be part of this work of coming back, of renewing our faith, and of allowing God to dream in us again. Your pledge for the coming year may include several components. I hope you will pledge to pray for the church and the leaders of the church. This is not insignificant and it is not something I think automatically happens. I hope you’ll write your pledge to pray on your pledge card and return it faithfully to the church as probably the most important part of your pledge. In addition to prayer, I hope you will consider making a pledge of your presence, your service, your witness, and your gifts. Financial pledges are good and they will be the basis for the construction of the church operating budget for 2022. Without them, we will have much harder choices to make. However financial pledges do not make us a church. What makes us a church is what we have learned by pondering God’s steadfast love, guided by Jesus’ example. What makes us a church is that we know that God’s love will never let us go. That’s the center of our mission statement and it’s the center of what we have to give to the world. It’s the center of why I make a pledge to the church and I hope you will too.
When prayerfully considering your pledge, there are a few pieces of information that may be helpful to you. First, you should know that our annual church budget last year was $307,472 Approximately 40% of that was funded by pledges and approximately 55% was funded by rental income from the properties that are owned by our church. In addition to these two income sources, this year we also received a PPP grant that covered some of the difference. Due to the pandemic and the deficit budget, during the course of this year, we had to cut a staff position to reduce our expenses to bring them into alignment with our income. In the coming year, we hope that the savings from that very difficult decision and the continued, or even growing, pledges of regular givers will make possible the opportunity to invest in some new ministries, such as new community partnerships, new opportunities for spiritual growth, and new ways for our congregation to boldly stand up for what’s right. In order to do that, our finance team is working hard to make sure that the budget includes lines and funds for the ministries we already have and for new ministries. Your pledges will help to make that possible. If there is ever any question about our church budget, the Finance Team is more than happy to share financial reports.
You may have received a pledge card in the mail or you can pledge here. You may return your pledge online or by mail any time before November 21 or bring it in person to worship on November 21. Worship on November 21 will be a time to celebrate the pledges that we have made together that will enable us to share our experience of God’s steadfast love with others.