Okay, I have a question for all the RevGals and Pals of various traditions!
How do you do your pledge ingathering (if that is what it's even called in your neck of the church?!)
I ask because I saw something different done at my church on Sunday (different for us!) and I loved it, and I wonder how else it might be done.
Background: We usually have a stewardship campaign in the Fall with a series of letters sent out; it is mentioned in announcement time during services, sometimes sermons, and in newsletters and bulletins. We are asked to pledge; our rector recommends the tithe and does so himself. (I think that most of us probably are not at that level although of course it's all confidential!) We are asked to return pledge cards by a certain date, by just dropping them in the offering plate, or mailing or dropping them at the church office. It's all very...um...low pressure and civilized.
We have faced declining pledges in the past few years...NOT in amount of dollars, but in number of pledging units! This makes me and others very frustrated and confused, since the church membership continues to grow! I am fairly new to this church and so I don't know where all the skeletons are (as last week's ATM called them) but I have been told it has something to do with the fuss in the national Episcopal Church...? and folks protesting by withholding pledges? I don't get that, but then the people I have talked with don't either.
Here's my soap box (or "my soap opera," as my former boss used to say) on the topic of pledging: If I am going to belong to a church, I need to contribute financially to all that it does: operating expenses, salaries, missions, whatever! And, I need to pledge, because otherwise how can the Vestry make a budget? Admittedly, I didn't do this until I was in graduate school, and at that time I was able to pledge something like $5 a week. But it was very, very important to me that I did so. (Maybe the treasurer wished I'd just leave it alone, but we were a pretty poor church, so maybe not!)
Anyway. On Sunday, Fr. David said during the announcements that the Vestry had had its retreat this weekend, and described the strategic planning process that will begin in the fall.
He also said that the Vestry had decided they wanted to make their next year's pledges early, and publicly. He then asked for those members of the Vestry and staff who were present to come forward and present their pledges.
And they did, setting them on the Table where we would shortly celebrate the Eucharist. And I had tears in my eyes, watching that simple and powerfully symbolic act. There were probably ten of them (I'm sure some had done this at the earlier services). And I thought: I want to do that! We should ALL get to do that!
Maybe over the course of a month? Pick your Sunday? So as to ease congestion, and not to pressure people too much? Although, frankly, I think a little pressure would be just fine. But that's just me.
What do y'all think?