11 Aug From the Pastor’s Desk
August 11, 2020
One of the things I have appreciated about Calvary over the years is our willingness and ability to have honest conversations. In Sermon Talk Back, people call it making “safe space.” We work really hard to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard with respect and compassion. Growth happens best in such an environment—where the point is not to have the “right answer” but to allow people to wrestle honestly and in the company of other travelers on this journey of life and faith.
Today we need to have an honest conversation about money—not because we are in dire straights but because I want you to be aware of some things that are not apparent on the surface. The most obvious item, of course, is that through July, we have a deficit of almost $7400. Part of the reason for that is that our year-to-date giving is running about $10,000 behind where we projected it would be at this point. Of course, since we are not meeting in person, some of our expenses are also not as high as we expected, so that helps offset some of the decreased giving.
The second contributing factor to our deficit, however, has to do with the contribution that our partner church, Torre Fuerte, makes each month to help defray the costs of their building use. Torre Fuerte has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Several families in their congregation contracted the virus, including Roque, our wonderful custodian. After nearly three months of illness, he is now well and back at work. The other Torre Fuerte members who have been sick are also on the mend, and we thank God for their recovery.
On the whole, though, our partner church continues to struggle as many in their congregation have experienced loss of jobs or reduced hours as the pandemic wears on. To support them, the Session voted in May to reduce their monthly contribution to Calvary by over half, to $850. This means that for every month we are unable to open the building for in-person worship (for ourselves or Torre Fuerte), our budget takes a “hit” of $950 a month.
Without question, over a period of several months, we will feel the impact of this decision, but we made it gladly and without reservation, wanting to help our partner congregation in this difficult time.
Some folks have asked about practical ways to support “the neediest among us” during Covid-19. Allow me to remind you that Calvary donates money every month to United Community to fund their food pantry. The recent drive for Grace Episcopal’s food pantry was in the same spirit. When you make your regular contribution to Calvary, you are supporting not only those who face food insecurity but also the Hispanic congregation who shares space with us every week. These are our friends and our sisters and brothers in Christ.
For those of you who are able, any increase in giving over the next few months will allow us to make the best possible use of our resources. For example, we paid Roque even when he was unable to work. We have purchased equipment to facilitate livestreaming our worship from the sanctuary, like a “web mesh” that gives us wi-fi capability in the front of the sanctuary (I wish we’d done that years ago!!) We have deferred some building maintenance but we are also using this time to accomplish critical needs—mold remediation in the basement has been completed, including the installation of a de-humidifier; outside painting to deal with wood rot will be tackled this fall; we are seeking estimates to make electrical upgrades and repair the wheelchair ramp, two items required by our insurance company. And, of course, we plan to fully fund our commitments to our mission partners, both at home and abroad.
Calvary is the most loving and generous congregation I have ever had the privilege of serving. Thank you. Thank you for your commitment to God and to one another. Thank you for tuning in to worship week after week. Thank you for praying for one another. And thank you for giving so generously, so that the good work of the Kingdom of God continues in and through us.
Yours for the Kingdom,
Elizabeth N. DavidsonPosted at 13:26h, 12 August
Honesty is definitely the best policy! I believe people tend to give more when we know what the true picture is. We are probably missing contributions that people would have made when attending in person. I find that donating online is difficult and guess others may find that difficult, also. The US postal service is what works best for me. These are such hard times for everyone, and I am glad that Calvary is doing its best to support our staff and the Hispanic church whose people must be in desperate need, I imagine, due to this pandemic. It’s hard to see God’s grace in this, but as Christians we know it is there.
Let us all pray for each other, the Calvary members and friends and the Hispanic congregation as well. May we all find a way to “stretch” a little in our giving, asking God’s guidance as to how we navigate this difficult time.
Peace and blessings to all,