May 25, 2021

Get Busy and Creative

Here is a story about what can happen when the people of a congregation unite around the love of their faith community, a vision to strengthen it, and the joyful inclusion of everyone.

In 2019, the leadership of Holy Family Episcopal Church in Angola, Indiana, faced a sad reality. If the congregation did not rally to financially support their new young and popular rector, they might lose him when the grant funding his curacy ended. So they got busy and creative.

The leadership surveyed of the congregation. All 33 responding households (a large majority of membership) said, yes, we appreciate having a full-time rector. The survey also invited input on new worship opportunities, communication, and asked what people appreciated about their church. Folks were asked if they would be willing to give more to keep their full-time rector.

Encouraged by survey results, the stewardship team put together a plan for the 2019 giving campaign. They chose the annual giving resources of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) to structure their effort. Invitations were mailed for a “Pledge Drive Kickoff Luncheon” declaring, “We want you to be as excited about this season for our community as we are!”

Using a stair step graphic, Holy Family asked members to consider climbing one step up in giving, with a goal of increasing annual pledge giving from $62,300 to $100,000. With renewed energy and excitement, the pledge drive resulted in over $93,000 in pledges! Rev. Tom Adamson was staying.

The pandemic of 2020 caused Holy Family to be creative, not discouraged. The stewardship team placed a large order of cupcakes with a baker in the congregation. With a kick-off gathering not possible, the stewardship team personally delivered to each household a sweet invitation to support Holy Family. Again, the stair step graphic was used, and again, people responded with generous love and pledges reaching nearly $100,000.

Holy Family Stewardship Chair Carrie Wilson explains TENS’ annual giving campaign resources provide an excellent framework for conducting a campaign. She advises others to adapt them to fit their own parish. More wisdom from Carrie:

  • Start Early. Holy Family’s fall campaign is already announced on its website (here).
  • Be Flexible. Holy Family’s annual giving plan involves a calendar and a pencil with an eraser.
  • Be Creative & Utilize Your Assets. God has gifted many of your people with talents such as music, art – even cupcakes! Start brainstorming.
  • Utilize Feedback & Assessment from the previous year. Listen and adapt.

In other words, get busy and creative!