"Can you hear me now?" I suspect almost all of you have said that or heard that question. The really good Verizon ad question is a question I regularly ask when I go through an area with spotty-coverage. I’ve grown accustomed to being connected all the time—to the people I love and the work I do.
Long before cell-phones and social-media, God hard-wired you for connection. You were made to be connected with people. And even more central, you were made to be connected with God.
Your "longing for belonging" is at the heart of the Christian life and the heart of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, he said, LOVE GOD AND LOVE OTHERS. Jesus didn’t just talk about these ideas, he modeled deep relationships in his life.
God’s idea for us is that we are CONNECTED for GOOD. Together, we grow in our relationship with God. Together, we are a community that cares for each other. Together, we are the hands and feet of Jesus sharing God’s love with the world. Your generous giving makes all the connections you see on the pages of this booklet happen.
The weekend of November 5/6, in all five services, you will have an opportunity to make a commitment to First Presbyterian’s connecting mission and ministry in 2017 by coming forward and dedicating your gift. You received a commitment card in the mail, however, if you prefer, you can make your commitment on line now at www.fpc-bethlehem.org/pledge.
I hope you will join me and Mark in praying for this important day in the life of our church as we live out being CONNECTED for GOOD.
wHY SHOULD I PLEDGE?
Myth: I don’t need to give to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem because they already receive large gifts from very wealthy members and friends.
Fact: Nearly half of the gifts received in 2012 were between $1 and $100 per week. The average pledge is $3,000 per year.
Myth: The church must have all the money it needs because programs and activities are expanding yearly.
Fact: The potential growth opportunities for First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem's ministries and programs have been constrained by lack of additional funds. While the church gains about 100 additional members each year, our resources have not kept pace with our membership growth.
Myth: As the congregation grows, so do the number of members who give and pledge.
Fact: While membership has increased, the number of giving and pledging households has remained virtually the same, losing some and gaining some each year.
Myth: First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem can pay for its staff and programs indefinitely because of its large endowment.
Fact: First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem does have invested funds that are treated as endowments. However, being vigilant stewards of this resource demands that we draw only a percentage of the income generated. The endowment only provides 1% of our operating budget.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ANNUAL APPEAL
1. Why isn’t the Annual Appeal called the Stewardship Campaign?
Asking for financial gifts that support mission and ministry of the church is part of overall financial stewardship. Based on feedback from members and friends, we are attempting to clarify that we are asking for financial gifts and pledges during the Annual Appeal. This is an opportunity to talk about stewardship in a broader sense. Stewardship encompasses more than the annual appeal for funds and includes giving of one's time, talents and treasures.
2. What does the Annual Appeal support?
The Annual Appeal supports the work of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, which we often describe as being worship, education and discipleship, and mission and service.
Worship: As a united faith community, we gather together in this sacred place to hear the Word, to celebrate the sacraments, to be inspired by music, and to lift up our prayers and songs of praise to God. Worship activities include preaching and worship leadership, baptisms, communion, music, pastoral care, devotions, sermon library services, and weddings.
Education and Discipleship: First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem seeks to nurture the spiritual development of individuals by helping them to grow in faith and in the knowledge that they are valued and loved by God, engaging them in the lively word of God, and in the world where faith and life intersect, providing opportunities for active faithfulness. Education and Discipleship activities; Young Adults Group Ministry; Children, Youth, Adult, and Family Ministry; Congregational Life Ministry; Ecumenical and Interfaith Ministry; Fellowship and Small Group Ministry, and Saturday and Sunday Children's Education Classes.
Mission and Service: First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem strives to be a leader in local, national, and global mission while continuing to be welcoming and serving the community. Mission and service activities include global mission, advocacy, preschool, congregational care, volunteer ministry and vacation Bible school.
3. Does this mean that this will be the only fundraising activity during the year?
No. There will continue to be special and seasonal opportunities for giving, such as the Souper Bowl of Caring, Flower Ministry, One Great Hour of Sharing, and Memorial Gifts.
4. What records do I receive of my giving?
Throughout the year the church sends periodic mailings of giving, showing your pledged amount and gifts made toward your pledge. The financial office sends these statements to provide you with a record of gifts. In addition, for your tax purposes the church sends a charitable tax report in January for the full prior year that shows all monetary gifts you have made to the church.
For more information about the Annual Appeal, E-mail Financial Manager Sue Knarr or call 610-317-6162, ext. 211.