Epistle #11: I am a man of few words, part 2 – from St. Paul President Dan Nielsen

Generosity honors God.  Giving is an act of worship and is a recognition that everything we have is a gift from God.

You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts.
Your generosity will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.   –  2 Corinthians 9:13

COVID-19 is changing the way we interact, and our church is not immune to those changes. Amid social distancing our church has had to temporarily cancel Sunday worship, Wednesday night activities, and all meetings. The Call Committee, the Council and other meetings are being conducted via virtual forms of communicating.

Our Church continues to find ways to support and care for our members.  Please let us know if you need anything. St Paul member Georgine Bellamy is kindly coordinating a special reach-out ministry for our members with special needs, and extension of care. If you have special need or desire to assist in this ministry, Georgine‘s number is 515-468-0636.  If you have concern you would wish to have added to the prayer chain ministry of St Paul Lutheran, Twila Seibert heads up that prayer chain ministry and may be reached at phone 515-462-1505.  For any other needs please call the church office, at 515-462-4270.

I think it is in times like these that the church shows its real strength as a community of faith, that loves neighbors, and glorifies God.

But what about financial stewardship during this time? We have seen stories of the famous athletes offering to pay the hourly wages of sports venues that are being impacted by sports cancellations. And we have heard of the big companies that say they are going to continue to pay employees despite losing revenue.

But what about our church?   St. Paul operates on a very thin margin and we have little to no cash reserves.  Our church is heavily dependent on gifts that are made in an offering plate when people are physically in church.  60% of gifts are given during a worship service.  40% of our gifts are done so via the automatic giving tool on the Church Website.  Our Church will not be able to operate if we lose 60% of our revenue during this crisis.   So, what can we do to maintain giving revenue when people are not in church?

Automatic Giving:  35 of our member families use this awesome tool and donate around $8,500 monthly this way.  We encourage you to do this.  This is the best way for you to give during this time.  Other options include, set up auto giving via online bill pay through your bank account, mail checks to the church, or drop the offering off to the church office.  If you need help with this, please let the Church office or I know.  To set up Automatic Giving please go to the Church Website and you will find the link on the left-hand side of the first page. Expenses:  The 2020 annual budgeted expenses total $246,898 or $20,575/mo.  During this time, we are watching every penny being spent. In the budget we do have some “one-time” expenses for when we call our new Pastor.  Overall, the fixed monthly expenses total around $18,000 per month.  The monthly mortgage payment to the Mission Investment Fund (MIF) is $3,630 monthly.  We are working with the MIF to pay interest only on this loan for a couple months (around $375/mo.) to help our cash flow.  The Church Council and Finance Committee will continue to work on lowering expenses during this time.

Giving: We have 35 families that use the automatic giving tool and it consistently totals $8,500 per month.  We have 19 households that consistently give via weekly worship that totals around $5,500/mo.  We have a few members who give on an annual basis, and that totals $18,500/year.  The above totals represent total giving of around $15,500 per month.  Historically, many members and visitors give faithfully, but it is hard to predict what this amount will be, especially when we are not in worship.

Our request: We ask simply that all our members do the best that they can do during these times, to continue to provide regular, consistent, and- if possible-even automated gifts in support of the church.  Please know that we fully understand that there will be some members who will be unable to continue giving at the same pace which they are accustomed to, being significantly impacted by this crisis. It is singularly most important for you to know that during this time, your congregation stands behind you and beside you. We offer prayers, love, support and the desire to walk alongside all of you who are facing such impact.

It is for all these reasons that we have taken the step of establishing a designated operating reserve fund. This in hopes that some of our members will find opportunity to assist our congregation in making it through the next 6-8 months with financial integrity, even in the midst of current and anticipated challenges, through the generosity of providing “above and beyond” gifts.  If you represent one of those membership households who are in the unique position during these times to be able to feel a calling to consider such, I would humbly ask that you would have conversation with Pastor Brian to further that consideration.

Pastor will continue to communicate and tell our story via the EPISTLES TO ST. PAUL.  We will try to use all the tools available (email, texting, social media, phone calls, etc.) We are still here!  Please let us know if you need help.  Many people are feeling isolated and disconnected during this time…contact each other, visit via email or phone, no such thing as too much communication right now.

We often don’t do a very good job of asking for money, but during this crisis, it is important to ask.   We are asking…. Please know your Church needs you to make it through this crisis and for us to continue to support people during this crisis…please give.

What is generosity?  Generosity is love in action.  You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.

The word “believe” is mentioned 272 times in the Bible
The word “pray” is mentioned 371 times in the Bible
The word “love” is mentioned 714 times in the Bible
The word “give” is mentioned 2,152 times in the Bible

Generosity honors God.  Giving is an act of worship and is a recognition that everything we have is a gift from God.  2 Corinthians 9:13 You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts.  Your generosity will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.

The most important thing we can do right now is to glorify God and love our neighbors.

Have a happy day and live your life like these six stories.

Faith   Once all villagers decided to pray for rain.   On the day of the prayer, all the people gathered, but one boy came with an umbrella.  That is faith!
Trust   When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them.  That is trust!
Hope   Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set the alarms to wake up.  That is hope!
Confidence   We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.  That is confidence!
Love   We see the world suffering, but still, we get married and have children.  That is love!
Attitude    On an old man’s shirt was written a sentence “I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.”  That is attitude!

– Author Unknown –

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13

God Bless!
Dan Nielsen, Council President
515-250-4080  dan2504080@gmail.com

Church office phone:  515-462-4270
Church office email:  StPaulLutheranChurch@hotmail.com
Pastor Brian Mortenson email: StPaulPastor1941@gmail.com
Pastoral Emergencies:  605-351-0867