OK, this will be my blog about our pledge drive and your financial support of the church, so at least read this through to the end. Our fiscal year runs from June 1 to May 31, so each year around this time we ask everyone to consider their financial support of Neighborhood. About 70% of our million dollar plus budget comes from pledges; most of the rest is from rental income. We try and be as prudent and careful with expenses as we can, and Alyssa Bellew, our Director of Administration, deserves a great deal of credit for her stewardship of the expense side of the budget.
But costs go up. Inflation, as minor as it has been, affects the church just like it does individuals. Utilities go up every year. We are about as green as we can be and save money wherever possible in energy use, yet it costs about $50,000 a year for utilities. Our grounds and buildings always need repair – we have such a beautiful campus, but it does not take care of itself. We have been unable to increase our giving to our denomination. We expect health care costs to go up about 25% this next year because of the Affordable Health Care act. Over the past five years, some of the staff have had no increase in pay, and others only minor increases. Overall, we have been OK, but have had to be tight. I think we have done really well.
We ask everyone to consider a pledge of 5% of household income, and if that is not possible, for that to be an aspiration. I know circumstances vary a great deal, and that everyone takes this seriously. I am grateful for every pledge and know that they represent honest reflection about the importance of Neighborhood in people’s lives and in the life of our community.
Our programs are top notch. From Religious Education (Did you know we are now offering OWL – the sexuality curriculum – to the community?) to Social Justice (We started Jericho Road Pasadena and dedicate at least one Sundays offering to local projects), from music to worship, from pastoral care to social opportunities – we do a lot.
We need your pledge. Please be as generous as you can. If you have already pledged, thank you. If not, please do. The most important thing is to hear from you now. Pledge online through our website or fill out a pledge card at church this Sunday. My wife and I have increased our giving by around 40% over the past number of years and it feels good; we love Neighborhood and believe in it. I hope you do too.
-Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson