Project Resource Workshops Support Stewardship Campaigns

Annual stewardship campaigns are critical revenue generators for congregations, providing the primary source of funding for everything from educational programming and missional outreach to deferred maintenance and capital projects. Yet it isn’t easy to come up with fresh ideas for these annual appeals, or to energize parishioners. That is why the diocese is committed to working with congregations to provide the tools to develop an effective campaign.

In her blog last week, Bishop Mariann wrote about Project Resource, an effort organized by the Episcopal Church to provide resources for parishes to increase their capacity to raise finances for ministry and encourage good stewardship. This summer, every parish is invited to send leaders to intensive workshops on annual campaigns that will help congregations to develop, refine and execute their pledge drive.

Topics will include campaign fundamentals such as planning timelines for campaign communications, tailoring messages to appeal to your congregation, and equipping parish leaders and their stewardship teams to have conversations with donors. More advanced topics include facilitating parish conversations on fundraising, creating video, email, and social media communications and increasing church membership.

The workshop will be offered on Saturday, July 23 at Christ Church, Kensington and on Saturday, August 6 at St. Paul’s, Piney in Waldorf. Participants will gather at 8:30 a. m. for a program from 9 a. m.  to noon. Register online. The cost of the workshop is $15. Register before July 5, for a $5 discount.

An additional workshop will be offered from 9 a. m. to noon on Saturday, September 17 at a site yet to be determined.

Council Approves First Congregational Growth Grants

Council Approves First Congregational Growth Grants

By Lu Stanton León

Diocesan Council on Tuesday approved the first batch of growth grants made possible by increased congregational contributions to the diocesan operating budget.

The five grants ranged from $3,000 to $20,000 and will support Latino and campus ministry initiatives as well as new worship services and musical offerings.

“The Council was energized and excited by the evangelistic focus of the grant proposals.”  Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde said. “It affirmed our hope that with increased financial capacity, EDOW congregations would gladly and creatively reach out to their communities. These grants represent the first step on what I pray will be a rewarding journey for us all.”

The deadline to apply for the fall cycle of grants is October 1.

Church of the Ascension in Gaithersburg received $20,000 for expanded outreach to the Spanish speaking community in its immediate neighborhood with the possible inclusion of the local campus of Montgomery College. The Rev. Javier Ocampo will lead the ministry.

A partnership comprising Church of the Epiphany in Forestville, Christ Church in Clinton, St. Barnabas, Leeland in Upper Marlboro and St. Christopher’s in New Carrolton received a $10,000 grant for quarterly events that will use jazz and hip hop to reach out to young adults and families in Prince George’s County.

“Partner parishes will provide a jazz night on Friday nights as a way for people to come out and enjoy and evening of fellowship,” the congregations wrote in their application. “We will invite them to come to one of our churches on the following Saturday or Sunday and invite the featured band to participate in Sunday services. When the band is hip hop or contemporary gospel we will hold a Saturday service focused on outreach to young adults.”

Saint Paul’s, K Street and St. Patrick’s in the District received a $10,000 grant to revitalize campus ministry at the George Washington University. In their application the parishes said they would hold an event for incoming students in the fall and spring; provide a contemplative study space with free coffee, tea and light refreshments during midterm and final examinations; offer a monthly sung Compline service and provide “a ministry of presence at one of the student hangouts on campus on a weekly basis.”

The Church of Ascension and Saint Agnes in the District received $9,000 to develop a monthly Sunday evening service that it describes as “a ‘contemplative casual’ alternative to ‘contemporary

Praise’ worship.” The service, which will begin on a nine-month trial basis, will be aimed at young adults including those who are unfamiliar with or estranged from the church, and will conclude with a meal in the parish’s undercroft. The growth grant will pay for the services of a four-person choir and is contingent upon confirmation of partnership with nearby parishes.

Christ Church, LaPlata and Christ Church, Wayside received $3,000 for “Mass on the Grass,” an outdoor, midweek worship service to be held on summer evenings. Worship services “will be supplemented by a book study series for an increasing majority of parishioners at both parishes who are relatively new to the Episcopal Church,” the parishes said in their application.

Project Resource Provides Solid Foundation for Ministry

Jesus said, ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.’  Matthew 7:24-25

This week I’m grateful to be with seven EDOW leaders for a three-day conference called Project Resource. Sponsored by the Episcopal Church, Project Resource’s goal is building financial capacity for ministry in congregations. It has been a rich learning experience, and we will return home with resources to share.

We’re preparing to pilot a year-long stewardship process for congregations beginning early in 2017, but our goal for this summer is to provide immediate support and resources for congregations’ annual pledge drives this fall. While your annual fundraising efforts for next year may seem a long way off, we invite you to get a head start with us this summer. Think of how good you’ll feel in late September having already made plans for a successful stewardship campaign.

Check your calendars now to see if you and the other leaders of your upcoming stewardship campaign are free to attend one of these two Saturday morning workshops (locations to be determined when we know who is coming):

July 23, 9 a.m. to noon

August 6, 9 a.m. to noon

We’ve also set aside a September date if the summer doesn’t work:

September 17, 9 a.m. to noon

At these workshops, we’ll talk about the spiritual foundations of our relationship to money and how to make a strong case for giving to your congregation’s ministry in ways that take generational differences into account. Different generations give money for different reasons and with different expectations, and we’ll show you ways to tailor your message accordingly.

Then we’ll share with you multiple resources for a well-executed campaign including: a proposed schedule for written communication with sample letters, hosting parish conversations, an advance campaign for vestry and other leaders, a kickoff event, tips on how to engage and equip people to speak for two-to three minutes in worship about why they love your church, video and email messages, sample thank you letters, phone call coaching, ideas for a victory celebration, and sample letters to solicit year-end gifts.

We’ll present a buffet of ideas and materials that you can choose from and adapt to suit your congregation, and we commit to walking alongside you throughout the fall campaign, offering support and further resources.

Deadline for registration for the summer workshops is July 10 and September 1 for the September workshop. Please register online here.

Early registration (before July 1) $10 per person; after July 1, $15
Early registration for September workshop (before August 15): $10 per person; 
after September 1, $15

Taking Soup to the Streets: Church of Our Saviour, Hillandale delivers

Taking Soup to the Streets: Church of Our Saviour, Hillandale delivers

By Lu Stanton León

Soup-to-Go is a lay-led ministry.

“It just started about a year-and-a-half ago, and delightfully, I had nothing to do with the beginning, the middle or what is happening right now,” says the Rev. Dr. Robert William Harvey, rector of Church of Our Saviour. “It is so lay led; it is wonderful.”

The idea for the program began when parishioner Olivette Guy-Williams attended a weekday service on a bitter cold March day in 2014. While there she ran into a regular visitor to the church’s food pantry, where volunteers distribute canned goods to those in need.

“I said at the time, with this weather, all he needs is warm bowl of soup,” says Guy-Williams, who describes herself as a retired, stay-at-home grandmother who cares for her grandchildren. “I asked the volunteer at the pantry, ‘When you give canned food, how do they open it? For people like that, how can they warm the beans?’

“So I said, ‘All these people need is a warm bowl of soup. I will talk to the rector and assistant rector and see what they think about it.’”

So began Soup-to-Go, a name that Guy-Williams modeled after the church’s annual Ashes-to-Go event. Located in the Hillandale neighborhood of Silver Spring, the Church of Our Saviour  is just two blocks north of the New Hampshire Avenue exit of the Capital Beltway. Every day people without homes can be seen seeking donations while standing on traffic islands, on street corners, under bypasses.

Initially, Guy-Williams thought those in need would come to the church for the soup. For two weeks she made soup and offered it on a table on the church grounds. No one came.

 Guy-Williams realized that many of those who needed a meal were busy seeking donations on street corners and couldn’t afford to leave their posts, so she changed tactics and decided to take the soup to them. Since then, a group of two to four parishioners meet every Thursday morning in Our Saviour’s kitchen to prepare homemade soup and then deliver it to about 40 homeless people in the area. In fall, winter and spring they distribute a pint of soup and a bread roll. In the summer they distribute a sandwich, chips and a bottle of water.

“Most soup kitchens expect people to come to the soup kitchen itself,” Harvey says. “So many of these folks can’t take the time. This is quite literally taking soup to people standing on the street corner.

“It is basically things we have in our food pantry, and then folks donate chicken or ham hocks, or some kind of meat. They put it in a container, get a bun, and take it out to the streets.” Tucked in with the food is a sticker identifying Our Saviour as the source of the food.

“They drive up as far north as Randolph Road and as far south as Langley Park, handing a cup of soup to people asking for money,” Harvey says of the volunteers. “The need is there for a whole lot more; the need far outweighs what we can reasonably do. We give the five loaves and two fish that we have.”

In a related ministry, Church of Our Saviour recently opened Maryland’s first satellite office of Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington, a program that works with more than 1,000 people who are homeless or in need.

“David Wolf (executive director of Samaritan Ministry) has been targeting Our Saviour because we are right on the beltway,” says Harvey, who has long wanted his parish to get involved with the program. From 9 a. m. to 1 p. m. every Tuesday, volunteers from Our Saviour provide services include help with immigration issues, résumé building and providing computer and internet access.

Guy-Williams also volunteers with Samaritan Ministry.

“When I hand out soup, I tell them to go to Church of Our Saviour on Tuesdays if they need any help,” she says. “With the soup we have a sticker with the church’s name and address on it, and in the brown paper bag, we put the Samaritan Ministry brochure. Some of them do come.”

“Some of the people who come live right under the beltway, and those are the folks who get the soup first,” Harvey says. “It does go quickly. I went twice, and I was quite shocked by how quickly it went.”