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Challenge and Opportunity

By December 15, 2022No Comments

Beloved St. John’s community,
You may be wondering about the financial health of the congregation as our stewardship campaign
for 2023 winds down. Thus far, you have generously pledged about $508,000, and a generous
parishioner matched another $20,000 for new pledgers or those who increased their pledge –
bringing our total to $528,000. We expect only a few more pledges, and we need about $600,000 to
run a balanced budget. This will necessitate drawing from our operating reserves.

Thankfully, at this time, we have plentiful operating reserves. But using reserves to plug an operating
budget, which we have done for the last two years, is not sustainable. At the same time, I am beyond
thankful to report that we recently received two extravagantly generous bequests: a $325,000 gift
from Nish Jamgotch’s estate (Mr. Jamgotch was a parishioner at St. John’s long ago and lived in the
house across the street), and another $100,000 from our beloved Mary Miller, whose celebration of
life service we honored last week. We owe a debt of gratitude and joy to them.

How ought we to view these twin realities? On the one hand, we have a clearly unsustainable
financial trajectory with our costs exceeding our revenue. To continue our current way of being and
doing church, we will need to either grow very significantly, restructure our staffing, or find other
significant and creative ways to generate income from our building (or all three, or something else).
On the other hand, because of our healthy operating reserves, we do not need to make these
changes immediately. We have some time to ponder what the Holy Spirit is inviting of us.

As I’ve shared in the past months, with your help we’ve discerned five values we believe the Spirit is
calling us to focus on: sacredness, belonging, spiritual nourishment, creativity, and transformation. In
the process of discerning those values over the past two years, we listened to many of you speak
your hopes about what a vital St. John’s would look like. We know we are committed to sharing our
bounty with those in need, and we know how much you cherish our space, staff, music and various
ministries. At the same time, it is possible the Holy Spirit is calling us to new and different ways of
worship and engaging in the community – in ways that we may not even be able to imagine yet. I am
in the process of forming a few small teams to research what other churches are doing to innovate
around finances while continuing to engage God’s mission to heal the world through love.

Your vestry is listening to the Holy Spirit while thinking about the future of St. John’s, including how to
faithfully steward these generous gifts and maintain our ongoing operations. As our Bishop recently
shared in his ECMN Convention address, he encouraged us to spend a year “tending our roots”—to
focus on spiritual nourishment through a robust and vital discipleship. This is church jargon which
just means to re-connect with the reason we are here in the first place: to follow Jesus’ Way of Love.
We will follow his advice by tending our roots in the coming year while we discern our future.

Thank you so much for your ongoing support of St. John’s in many ways. I invite your prayers,
discernment, vitality and generosity as we move forward, following Jesus together.
In Christ,