How St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church exists financially
It will come as a surprise to many that St. Matthew’s exists and survives year to year completely through the tithes and offerings of its members and parishioners. There is a small amount of interest income from some funds the parish holds, but by and large the parish operations are supported by the men and women in the pews on Sunday morning.
Plainly faith plays an important part in this. And that faith is shared by most of our parishioners, who as an act of faith make a pledge each year to the support of the parish and its budget. ( Read what our parishioners say about why they give.)
Pledging is different from merely putting cash or a check into the offering plate when we come to church. It is a decision made beforehand, through prayerful consideration, to commit to a goal – a goal of giving a portion of our resources and sticking to it. It is not giving some of what happens to be in our wallet or purse at the time, regardless of how generous such a gift might be. A pledge is a promise and a plan. It is a commitment with a purpose. It is disciplined giving. It shows that we can control our money, rather than letting it control us. When we pledge, the Bible repeatedly tells us that God richly blesses those who make a prayerful commitment to give financially, and to give sacrificially of their treasure and our experience reinforces that.
Pledging helps the Vestry be responsible stewards in planning a wise budget. The Vestry welcomes contributions from the offering plate, but they cannot count on them to the same degree that they can on pledges. Pledging gives confidence that Vestry projections are more realistic – that inreach can be maintained and outreach sustained. There are bills to be paid, payrolls to be met, properties to be repaired, music to be kept alive, and St. Matthew’s many outreach ministries to be backed if we are to be true to our faith. These may be planned with more confidence if we can count on your generosity on through pledges.
What are Tithing and Proportional Giving?
Tithe, a five-letter word, is as close as you can get in the Christian church to a four-letter word – mention it and Christians rise up in protest! Yet it is very Episcopal. At the 1982 General Convention, and at conventions ever since, the following resolution was passed: “The tithe is the minimum standard of giving by Episcopalians for God’s work.” That commitment reflects the biblical tradition of giving, starting with Abram who “gave one-tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:20) and continuing through Moses, David, Solomon, and Job who were expected to return tithes to care for the Temple and the poor. Tithing is the generous response to the generosity bestowed upon us. The tithe is not always immediately attainable though. If, after thinking and praying about your pledge, the tithe is beyond your reach, we suggest proportional giving. While the Biblical tithe is the goal, setting a lessed percentage of your income allows to systematically move toward tithing by increasing your pledge 1% or 2% or more each year.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The biblical standard is the tithe–ten percent of what we earn. We accept that as our goal. We are all at different places on our journey toward that goal, and we should prayerfully consider what our individual goal is and how and when we might get there. What proportion of your income would you eventually like to give back? When do you hope to reach that goal and how many years would it take? And then, what should be your pledge this year as a step along that journey? These questions are never easy, but worth your prayerful consideration.
Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us,
an offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)
“Even on a fixed income, I am giving more and more to the Church. I find the more I give, the more I receive financially and spiritually.”
— A parishioner