An Invitation to the "Season of Giving Thanks" St. Julian's Annual Stewardship Campaign:
Dear St. Julian's Family:
Last Sunday, October 25th, St. Julian's, once again, began our annual "Season of Giving Thanks". As a reminder, the "Season of Giving Thanks" is a four-week long invitation for each of us to call to mind and give thanks to God for the many blessings in our lives. And, then, consider how that gratitude might overflow into making specific commitments of prayer, time, talent, and financial resources to further God's mission and ministry in and through St. Julian's in the coming year.
Throughout the season, you will hear from various participants in our community about why they contribute to St. Julian's and, further, how their choice to share from their own abundance leads to their own spiritual growth and wellbeing. Additionally, we will have opportunities to “count our blessings” together in worship at our 11 AM online service during the prayers each week. We hope this experience of sharing our blessings will lead us to consider, again, how we might allow the love of God in our lives to overflow in acts of generosity toward our church and those in need beyond our own walls.
The "Season of Giving Thanks" will culminate with two events. The first is a preview of the 2021 Budget and a Theological Reflection on Giving directly before the 11 AM online service on Nov 8th at 10:15 AM (our regular pre-pandemic Sunday morning education time). We will use the same link for the meeting as we use each week for the 11 AM service. So, please plan to log on early that Sunday to hear how the 2021 budget is shaping up and how that might inform your own giving and then just remain on the Zoom for worship. The second is our In-Gathering Service and Thanksgiving Picnic on Sunday, Nov 15th. Please note, on In-Gathering Sunday (Nov 15th), we will have only one fully online service at 10 AM so that we can all present our 2021 Pledge Cards together, as an act of unity and shared ministry. This year the pledge cards will be submitted electronically (link below) either during the service or any time before Nov 15th if more convenient.
The service will be followed at noon by a “bring your own” socially distanced Thanksgiving Picnic at Brushy Creek Lake Park, which is across the street from the land we working to purchase for our permanent campus (3300 Brushy Creek Road, 78613). For those who would like to participate, we ask that, in addition to bringing you own food and drinks, that you bring your own camping chairs, wear masks at all times except when eating, and maintain 6 feet of distance between family pods. Further, as with all in-person gatherings at this time, a chance remains that we will cancel the picnic portion of the day if our St. Julian’s Forward Task Force feels the COVID metrics we are following deem it unsafe to gather in person (even outdoors). If our plans have to change for safety’s sake, we will communicate that as quickly and widely as possible. However, we are hoping this might provide an opportunity to celebrate our life together in a safe and fun way. We will require rsvp’s and completed consent forms for the picnic that will be coming closer to the event.
We have experienced many blessings in our first 11 years together. We have grown in number from about a dozen folk to nearly 350 adults and children. We have grown in spiritual depth through meaningful worship and Christian Education for all ages. We have developed 20 plus vibrant ministries that serve both those inside our church and those beyond our own walls. In addition to our Vicar, we have added 6 part-time lay ministers to our staff that provide Administrative Support, Children's Ministry, Student Ministry, Music Ministry, and Adult Spiritual Formation and a second full-time clergy person. We have bought and built out our first worship space. We are wrapping up our first Capital Campaign, Good Soil, to support a future permanent campus, and we now have about 9 acres of land under contract for a future permanent home. And, perhaps most importantly in this time, we have successfully moved our church online and remained a deeply connected parish, offering meaningful worship and formation for all ages, in the midst of a pandemic.
And, though we have and continue to weather this storm so well together, we are more dependent on the financial generosity of our community than we ever have been. This is due, in part, to receiving decreasing financial support from the Episcopal Diocese of Texas as we move toward becoming a self-sustaining parish. This is also due to the fact that we anticipate less support specifically related to the pandemic in the year to come. In order to keep our budget flat from 2020 to 2021 and not cut staff, salaries or ministry support, the community will need to increase our collective giving by about $40,000 in 2021. This represents a significant increase in giving year over year (about 15-20%). This increase in giving will need to come from both new pledges and those already giving to extend their generosity even further. And, I think it is important to say on behalf of our leadership, that we are committed to doing our part to control the expense side of the equation. This includes no anticipated cost of living or merit-based increases to staff compensation in 2021, no increases year over year to individual ministry budgets, and requiring all expenses, including budgeted items, to be approved before any expense is made to be absolutely certain the budget impact is warranted.
As we live through these challenging and uncertain times, we cannot understate the importance of each person prayerfully considering St. Julian's significantly in their charitable giving. Moreover, with closing on land in 2021, we believe it is an important as ever to remain in a strong financial position, as that will profoundly impact how quickly we can begin our phase one building project and then occupy our new home. There are many challenges that stand before us. But, we believe, with God's ongoing help and the sacrificial commitment of our community, that we can continue, even in the midst of a pandemic, to grow in number, spiritual depth, and financial wellness. And, we can continue to position ourselves to be ready to walk together into the bright future that God has already set before us.
Attached below is an "FAQ" about stewardship and the “Season of Giving Thanks” at St. Julian's. We hope it is a helpful resource. Additionally, attached below is a link to our electronic 2020 Pledge Card, which we hope you will submit at or before our In-Gathering Service on Sunday, November 15th at 10 AM. For those who prefer to print, fill out, and mail their Pledge Card to the church, there is also a link below to a PDF version that is printable (see website for our mailing address).
Thank you for your time and consideration. We are so grateful for our shared life and ministry and so thankful for all you have already so generously given. We are the beloved family of faith we have become in large measure through your ongoing and profound generosity. If you have any questions about stewardship at St. Julian's or your own giving, please feel free to contact either of us. We hope this reaches you and yours as safe and well as possible.
Peace and Warm Friendship,
The Rev. Miles R. Brandon, II Richard Garen
Vicar Stewardship Ministry, Chair