I wrote this reflection for the October 2015 Grace Church Newsletter
In the Episcopal Church, members of the congregation are asked each year to make a pledge of what they plan to give to the Church for the entire coming year. At Grace Church we do this in late October to early November, with special events and mailings during this time. For some people, especially for those new to the Episcopal Church, making a pledge may be a new experience.
Why do I make a pledge each year?
First, in pledging I am supporting the parish community to which I belong, and its mission. Grace Church is a self-supporting parish; we as a community have to support our shared work. By making a pledge, I am giving the Vestry and parish leadership the ability to plan for the ministry of the parish in the coming year. By making a financial pledge, I am also saying that I support and want to be part of the mission of the parish. Each year that I have been at Grace Church, I have more and more deeply come to believe that what we do together is the work of God. Part of God’s work to care, to serve and to welcome all at God’s table. That’s something I want to be a part of. So I give.
Second, pledging is a spiritual discipline. Giving is a discipline that people of faith have practiced for millennia. Spiritual disciplines are acts that we choose to do not because we always feel like it or want to, but because they are part of our commitment to God, to each other, and to ourselves. Pledging helps us to know that all that we have, things material and spiritual, is a gift from God. By giving generously, we thank God for God's loving care for our lives, and we dedicate what we have been given to God’s purposes. Giving is a practice of thanksgiving that over time makes us even more grateful for the abundance of God’s grace in our lives. It opens our hearts to the awareness that all life is a wondrous gift. Over the last few years, my wife Sara and I have come to learn how we can build our own family budget around our giving. It has taken time to get there, adjusting our budget each year, but now we tithe. We give 10% of our income away. We give about 1/3 of that tithe to Grace Church through our Annual and Capital Campaign pledged. We give about 1/3 to my wife’s church, Christ Church in Waltham, through Annual and Capital Campaign pledges and about 1/3 to other causes and needs that are important to us. Giving is an important part of our lives, and something we try to teach and demonstrate to our children as well. This discipline helps to remind us on a daily basis that all that we have and do is truly a gift from God. Our giving helps us to know more deeply to grace God has given us all.
My prayer is that pledging will bring you the joy it brings my family and me. My prayer is that it can bring you a greater awareness of God’s grace in your life. And it is my hope that you will join me in supporting the work of this amazing community and church!
Please think and pray about how you can be part of God’s generosity in your pledging and giving to Grace Church this year. And look for a stewardship packet in the mail in the coming weeks, and reflect with us on our giving during our month of stewardship events. Thank you for all you give to our ministry and work together!
The Rev. Noah H. Evans, Rector