FAQs about Stewardship

1.
What is stewardship?
We are all caretakers or “stewards” of God’s creation.  As Christians, we know that everything we have comes from God.  Stewardship means thankfully returning to God a portion of what God has given us, in the form of our time, talent and treasure.

2.
What is a pledge?
A pledge is an amount of money, which a person or family promises in advance to contribute to the church in the coming year. A pledge allows you to show your commitment to the work of our parish in a tangible way.  It is a response to God for the material blessings of life. 

3.
Why should I pledge?
Pledges allow the church to maintain its ministry, and the Vestry to plan the parish’s budget by knowing how much money to expect in a given year from parishioners.

4.
How much of the parish’s income comes from pledges?
In 2015, 46% of our parish’s operating income came from pledges and plate offerings.  Ideally, pledges should provide about 65% of a parish’s income (70% if you want to invest in parish growth. In 2015 our pledges accounted for only 46% which created a deficit in the operating budget of 19%. In the next two years we are incorporating a financial plan  which we hope will reduce and eventually eliminate any deficit in our call to ministry at St. John’s Church.

5.
Where does the rest of our budget income come from?
Currently, Income from our endowments provides 42% of our income: well over $100,000 per year.  These endowments are monies that caring supporters of St. John’s Church have left to the parish to insure that the work of the parish continues in their lifetime and beyond, and the principal should never be spent down.  The remainder of our current income, approximately 8%, comes from Easter and Christmas offerings, wedding, funerals baptisms, and undesignated gifts and grants throughout the year.

6.
Is endowment income
restricted to certain uses?

Some of our endowments are designated for specific purposes; others are undesignated.  Some of the income is available for operating expenses, and some is restricted to other uses.  In recent years, we have been relying too heavily on endowment income for operating expenses and need to boost pledge income to allow our endowment income to be built back up again.  We should always keep the future ministry of our parish in mind.

7.
What is the parish’s
operating budget?

In 2015, it cost $237,000 to maintain St. John’s staff, programs of worship, study, fellowship, and service. This does not include clergy housing as the Diocese of Long Island is currently supporting us through this cost. We are still working through a substantial deficit and are planning ahead to close the gap in future years.

8.
How is the parish’s
budget allocated?

Clergy 38%
(Salaries and benefits, FICA reimbursement, guest clergy.  Currently, the diocese pays $36,000 for clergy housing.)

Worship and Music 13%
(Music Director salary, Sunday Choir stipends, music costs)

Lay Leadership and
Christian Education 1%

(Sunday School and Nursery, Educational events, and Vestry development)

Evangelism and Fellowship 1%
(Advertising, outreach efforts, pastoral care and fellowship activities)

Administrative Staff and Expenses 29%
(Parish Administrator, Bookkeeper, and
Sexton salaries and all lay benefits.
Postage, telephone, computers, printing, supplies, audit, etc.)

Church Property 8%
(Primarily property and liability insurance, utilities, and building supplies)

Work Beyond the Parish 10%
(Diocesan Assessment, Designated Giving,
and various local causes)

Other expenses, funded outside the operating budget, include landscaping, and major repairs to the buildings.  These are all funded by interest from designated endowments, special grants and gifts, or, from time to time, special appeals.

9.
Does my pledge support Christian
service to others?

Yes. The church provides space and other resources to various groups such as AA, Good Dog, Concerts on the Slope.  Annual grants are made from the budget to Episcopal Charities. Finally, a portion of your pledge goes to the Diocese for support of our sister parishes and for national Christian service.

10.
Does SJC Music come under
the parish budget? 
What about the choir?

Concerts on the Slope. which performs concerts and makes recordings, has its own budget and raises its own funds.  The Sunday choir, part of our weekly worship, is paid from the church’s operating budget.

11.
Who supervises the budget?
The Finance Committee of the Vestry prepares the annual budget, which must be reviewed and approved by the Vestry.  The Finance Committee oversees expenditures throughout the year, and the Treasurer submits monthly reports to the Vestry on all income and disbursements.   Our endowment funds are managed by respected financial institutions under the direction of the Finance Committee.

12.
Does everyone pledge?
The majority of our active parishioners do pledge, along with our clergy.  Our goal is for every member to show support for the work of the church by pledging.

13.
How do I make a pledge?
Complete a pledge card with the total amount of money you plan to give to the parish during 2016.  You can pay this amount in whatever schedule is easiest for you – weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually (in one lump sum).  To make it even easier, you may receive pledge envelopes which can be mailed to submit your pledge payments, in cash or by check, or you can make donations using your credit card or on the internet. 

14.
Is my pledge confidential?
Yes.  Only the Clergy and Treasurer will have access to the amount of your pledge.

15.
Are my contributions
tax-deductible?

Your pledge contributions are 100% tax-deductible.  Each quarter you will receive a statement showing the record of giving for the previous quarter.  This record includes any extra gifts, such as altar flowers and altar guild.

16.
How much should I pledge?
No one can tell you the right amount to pledge.  The pledge amount that is right for you is whatever you feel reflects your thankfulness to God and your commitment to the church, based on what you can afford.  For example, calculate what you can commit each week, then multiply that by 52 and that is your annual pledge amount.  You can also consider a percentage of your income – for example, the Biblical tithe, which is 10%, is a goal many are working toward.  For first time pledgers, the act of pledging is more important than the amount, since the pledge reflects that you have made a personal commitment to the ongoing life of the church.

17.
What if I pledge, but because
of changes in my job or for
other reasons, I cannot fulfill
my pledge?

The church recognizes that unforeseen problems do arise.  To change a pledge, simply inform Mother Shelley or Don Derreck. Your support of our parish should not place you in a difficult financial situation.

18.
I already pledge.
Do I need to increase my pledge
over last year?

Because we are working toward closing the gap on our current deficit we are asking everyone who is able to increase their current pledge amount.  If you are unable to increase your pledge please consider bringing in two new members into our faith community. Every year we look for an increase in pledge income to cover the normal rise in costs of every kind.  Many parishioners set a goal for proportional giving, such as the tithe, which they move closer towards year by year.  In this way the level of stewardship is always growing. 

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Thank you for your prayerful support of
St. John’s Church.