Author: Tom Fairchild
Good morning, my name is Tom Fairchild and I’m the parish treasurer. And, you’re right, if the treasurer is at the lectern in the fall, it must be about stewardship and pledging. But I have an investment opportunity you won’t want to miss, so please don’t lock up your checkbooks yet.
I retired last year after a career as a financial advisor and today I'd like you to think of yourselves as investors. When I was in business, clients were always interested in the potential return of an investment. If I'd had an investment with a guaranteed 700% return, people would have been lining up outside my door. How many of you would be interested in a guaranteed 700% return? If your hand’s not up I know you’re not paying attention!
Well, I'm here today to offer you a guaranteed 700% return. Listen to the first reading from Sirach three weeks ago: “Give to the Most High as he has given to you, and as generously as you can afford. For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold.” Sevenfold! You don’t want to miss a sevenfold return! Your pledge is an investment in this wonderful church, and the return on your pledge comes in many forms: the embrace of your church family, a beautiful sanctuary, hearing and sharing the Word of the Lord, helping those outside of our walls, adult education, or maybe just the comforting ritual of the Episcopal service. What did you write on the card from Bonnie Swan last Sunday?
Investing is often described as a balance of fear and greed. A sevenfold return would attract anyone, but prudent investors must conduct what we call “due diligence.” That is, you must do your homework about the investment. Is it sound? Will your investment be safe? Can you have confidence in your financial investment in Immanuel Highlands church. You can, and here’s why.
Over the last year or so, many parishioners have continued to work thoughtfully and prayerfully to improve our financial fitness. Their commitments of time and knowledge have been extraordinary and it’s an honor for me to share some of their results with you today. We take our financial responsibilities seriously and here are some reasons why you can be confident that your pledges and contributions are in good hands.
· To protect the funds in the rector’s discretionary account, we have adopted a written policy for it that includes best practices from around the country. Please know that the account is protected against inappropriate use and exists to help those who need short-term financial assistance.
· The offering plate returned as part of the service. The offering plate is an act of worship and a tangible reminder that we offer ourselves to a generous God. It’s an outward sign of our shared financial responsibility to Immanuel and an opportunity for visitors to join us in our important mission here.
· To be good property stewards and good landlords, we are updating the Kind Mind Kids daycare lease. The daycare is an important part of Immanuel and the Highlands neighborhood and the new lease will reflect our mutual commitment to caring for some of God’s little cherubs.
· After being suspended during the pandemic, you can again donate funds for altar flowers in thanksgiving or memory of loved ones. Your donations help to offset the cost of the flowers that grace the altar every week.
· By watching them carefully, we expect our expenses to be less than we budgeted this year. Parish missions and committees are building their 2023 budgets right now with a goal of spending even less than this year.
· And, because it's so important to Immanuel, we've done a great deal of work to identify and quantify the sub-accounts in our investment portfolio. The portfolio comprises seven sub-accounts with funds designated for certain purposes and a general sub-account that holds funds for general operating expenses.
This is where you as investors come back into the picture. We can offer you Sirach’s sevenfold return and a promise to take good care of your donations, but you have to make the investment. You and I have to demonstrate through our pledges just how much this special place means to each of us. Pledges, donations, and other income cover somewhat less than one-half of our expenses. The portfolio covers the difference, but our portfolio withdrawals are greater than it can withstand indefinitely. Your investments in Immanuel directly reduce our dependence on the portfolio and increase its longevity.
Now, please look around this extraordinary church with me. Look at the stained-glass windows by the famous illustrator Frank Schoonover. Look up at the majestic ceiling. When you can, look closely at the craftmanship of the carved oak pulpit and chancel. And then look at the budget and realize that we spend about $100,000 each year for property expenses alone. We pay our bills with your pledges and with the gifts to the investment portfolio from those who came before us.
Ingathering Sunday is set for December 4. The vestry and finance committee build the budget around our pledge income, so please be sure to have your pledge card with you or submitted by then. If you haven’t formally pledged before, please consider joining those of us who do. If you’re a regular pledger, please consider increasing your pledge this year.
So be an astute investor this pledge season. Seek a good return and do your due diligence. Make your investment in Immanuel with confidence and a sure heart. Your pledge is a critical part of our income, an expression of your commitment to Immanuel Highlands, and is received gratefully by the parish. We will do our best to justify your faith in us.