A Note from Melesa+
Greetings, grace, and peace!
At its heart, every gathering at St. Thomas of Canterbury is about coming together in thanksgiving and joy. The word Eucharist simply means thanksgiving, and the prayers we say at the table each week are known as The Great Thanksgiving. This year we mark 50 years of St. Thomas of Canterbury. We celebrate the strength and legacy of our community while recalling God‘s faithful presence guiding us then and now.
In that spirit, we invite you to join us in giving thanks to God for all of God’s marvelous works in our parish and in our lives. Over the next several weeks you will have the opportunity to recall and share the places you have witnessed God’s love and faithfulness.
Such blessings inspire our thanks – and also our support and action. Financial contributions and annual pledges allow us to continue to love and serve God, our neighbors and our community year after year as St. Thomas of Canterbury. Looking to 2024, we ask that you prayerfully consider increasing your annual pledge by 3-5% as we continue the work of decreasing our dependence on grant funding from our Diocese. We know this is not a possibility for all and continue to be grateful for every pledge received no matter the size. More information about our preliminary budget for 2024 can be found on the back of this letter.
Additionally, thanks to a generous gift from a parishioner, we will be offering a $10,000 matching grant for all new pledges received for 2024! Each pledge received is an expression of gratitude and trust in God’s radical generosity in our lives, and we thank you for your continued support of God’s mission and ministry in this place.
Giving Sunday is November 19th this year. On that day, we will seek to meet the challenges before us by gathering up our pledges, blessing them, and celebrating together in joy.
Before then, we hope you will take the enclosed pledge card and place it somewhere prominent in your home. Whenever you see it, ask God to help you discern your pledge for the coming year. And as you do, consider praying this prayer:
Great One, for you the floods clap, for you the hills sing. You know my situation better than anyone. Take my credits and debits, ins and outs, pluses and minuses, surpluses and lacks, and show me how to use them to join the great chorus of creation that testifies to Your marvelous works. Amen.
For all that we’ve already accomplished together, and for all that we will accomplish together in the future, thank God and thank you. See you soon – and until then, let us be together for joy!
In faith with gratitude,
The Rev. Melesa McEwan Skoglund
Rector, St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church
WHAT IS A PLEDGE?
When we say ‘pledge’ at St. Thomas, what we mean is a financial promise. Our pledge is our promise to support the mission and ministry for the upcoming calendar year as stewards of God’s generosity. We ask every household to consider making a pledge, no matter the size. The vestry depends on pledge commitments in order to accurately prepare an operating budget that meets the needs of our ministry efforts and day-to-day operations for the year.
HOW IS A PLEDGE DIFFERENT FROM PUTTING MONEY IN THE OFFERING PLATE?
Any donation will benefit the ministries of St. Thomas, and we are grateful for generosity of all kinds. A pledge, however, has some added benefits to the church, and helps the parish be a good steward of its own resources. Through your pledges, the vestry has the information they need to prepare an accurate, balanced budget for 2023, and make decisions for staffing, programs, and maintenance.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I PLEDGE?
The amount of your pledge is a prayerful decision between you, your household, and God. You might begin reflection by looking at how your spending reflects what you value. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and as the Apostle Paul says, “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7). What amount will not be coerced through guilt or shame, but given in joy, freedom, and generosity? Some parishioners commit to the biblical model of giving, which is 10%. Others choose to grow their habit slowly, increasing their pledge each year by an incremental percentage. Some reflect on what small sacrifice they might make this year— the cost of one dinner out per month, the equivalent of streaming services— to build on their pledge. Last year, pledges at St. Thomas ranged from about $5 a week to just over $300 a week. There is no wrong answer, and no amount too small.
WILL MY PLEDGE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Yes! Every dollar, every hour of service, every offering of love and prayer is of infinite value to our church community. Your generosity, no matter the size, is a blessing to your church home.
IS MY PLEDGE TAX DEDUCTIBLE?
Absolutely! St. Thomas provides a receipt at year-end for your tax-deductible contributions for that year, but only if you pay by check, credit card, bank draft, online, stocks or use a pledge envelope for cash so that we can accurately credit your account with each gift.
IS MY PLEDGE CONFIDENTIAL?
For purposes of record keeping and accounting, only the parish administrator, treasurer and rector see your gift amount. For the purposes of thank you notes or follow up calls, the vestry may see the list of names of pledging families on occasion, but never the amount.