Dear Saint James’ Family,
As a child, a significant rite of passage during our summers in Vermont, was that leap from the top rock of the cliffs above Lake Champlain. We would prepare for that harrowing moment by years of jumping from the various lower outcroppings. As thrilling as any of the lower jumps might have been, there was nothing quite like that moment when through deep breaths and wobbly knees, we gathered up just enough will, courage, and encouragement to raise our front foot off the rock, close our eyes, kick off with that back foot and just fly through the air. At that moment the fear meets exhilaration and pride and then after what seems like an eternity, our feet would break the water’s surface and the coolness of the lake would consume us.
I feel many of those same feelings welling up in me as we leap into this upcoming year. In so many ways beyond the renovation and expansion, this year represents the culmination of previous acts of courage and faith. For many years our ministry was buoyed by the profound generosity of a single member whose pledge represented nearly a quarter of our pledged income. We are extremely grateful for that pledge which enabled tremendous ministry and growth to take place here at Saint James’. While we celebrated broadening programming, expanding reach into our community, and a building momentum and energy, the leadership at Saint James’ also realized the need for careful stewardship of resources and the planning for the inevitable season in which we would have to stand more squarely on our own two feet. Last year the reduction of that one pledge caused a $92,000 hit to our budget. Thanks to the increased commitment of many, the aforementioned careful stewardship of previous years resources, and meticulous budgeting, we narrowed that gap and made our 201st year every bit as dynamic and fruitful.
However, in 2018 we cannot lean on previous year’s savings and will need to close that remaining deficit.
In order to balance our budget and retain critical staffing and programming, we will need a collective increase from the congregation of 5.75%. I believe we will make that leap this year together!
We give for many reasons, because it bends our heart toward gratitude and the acknowledgement of all God has done in our lives, because we have been touched by God or God’s church in a meaningful way, because little reveals our priorities more than how we spend and making God first steers us in the right direction, because we believe in the church, because we consider it our obligation, and, of course, because we are passionate about the ministry and mission of Saint James’. All of these are profound reasons to give and should be at the heart of our commitment; however, we also give because there is a clear need.
As you prayerfully consider your 2018 commitment to Saint James’, I ask that you spend time reflecting on each of these reasons for giving, that you think about the previous ledges and perches we’ve leapt from in years past, and where we stand now, and how with courage and hope, we can raise that front foot, push off that back foot, and trust that we will plunge into those living waters, into God’s enveloping embrace.