October 11, 2018
Francisco-fact: How does St. Francis fund itself?
St. Francis Episcopal Church funds itself through the generosity and faithfulness of its members. This is a common practice in Episcopal churches, although it has not always been so. For our St. Francis Creche School operations, we charge tuition to the parents of our preschoolers. There are miscellaneous sources of funds, but pledges and tuition represent over ninety percent of our revenue.
This makes all sorts of sense. Some Episcopal Churches, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, have Endowments to cushion their operations against abnormal pledge years or other crises, but the flip side of this blessing is that congregations often get used to drawing on those Endowments without replacing the money used. Endowed parishes also find it difficult to get their congregations to pledge in any kind of sacrificial way.
During the history of Christianity, churches have used various mechanisms to fund their buildings, their pastoral care, and, their ministries. Stewardship, the current model of Church funding, has been in conscious use since the "Stewardship Awakening" in America during the late 17th Century. This model was revivified and magnified beginning in the late 19th Century as a spiritual discipline for and obligation of laity for the poor, the proclaimers of the Gospel, and support of the denomination. By the mid-20th Century, Herbert Wells, a layman, formed the Wells Organization in Chicago to provide churches with professional organizers for the "every member canvas." These canvases meant that stewardship canvassers would go household to household to raise pledges and listen to church members.
The Wells organization is no longer, and denominational Stewardship guidance is much less professional and supportive. There are online resources, but it is up to the motivation and faithfulness of each congregation to supply what is needed for ongoing church life.
Our own fund raising will begin on the All Saints Sunday, November 4, a day for the recognition of all baptized members of the Church, the special calendar saints whose lives serve as faith exemplars. There will be the initiation of a new member of the church, and because of this sacrament, all of us will be renewing our Baptismal Vows, as well as welcoming a young child into our midst. This year's efforts are being led by Tom Wood and Jack Shafran. Keep an eye out for more information about their efforts and the ministries of St. Francis which need your support.
Over the coming weeks, this spot will be reserved for information about Stewardship in general and St. Francis Church in particular. I am grateful for the faithfulness of this congregation, and I am confident that we will be faithful Stewards of the gifts and resources that God has given into our care.