Pledge Moment by Nancy Johnson

Why I am excited about supporting St. John’s financially

Good morning!  My name is Nancy Johnson, and I would like to share with you why I am excited about supporting St. John’s with a financial pledge this year.

First and foremost, we are all in this together. We make church happen.  We make church happen by participating in worship on Sundays.  We make church happen by volunteering throughout the week.  We make church happen by building community both inside and outside of St. John’s. 

But one of the most important ways we make church happen is by providing the money that is needed to pay for church.  By making a financial pledge, my husband Bill Gordon and I are making a commitment to help St. John’s do the good work it has been doing for the past two hundred years.  And to help St. John’s become even better.

I love being a Unitarian Universalist and I especially love being a member of St. John’s.  My husband, Bill Gordon, and I started attending St. John’s more than twenty years ago when our son David was about five.  David was a budding reader, even at that early age, and one Sunday, when we were staying in a motel, he picked up the Gideon Bible that was in one of the motel drawers and held it up. David proudly read the title of the book saying, with conviction, “Holly Bibble” …  Bill and I knew it was time to start thinking about religious education for David.  We wanted our son to grow up in a church that encouraged him to learn about other religions and to develop his own belief system.  St. John’s was that place. 

David attended religious education classes at St. John’s from grade school through his teenage years.  And the input of his wonderful teachers and of other adults and kids at St. John’s helped David grow up to be the wonderful young man he is today. 

So I’m excited about what our pledges can do to help us offer great experiences for kids at St. John’s.  As we make our way out of the pandemic and back to a more normal life at church, I want other children to have the same great experiences that our son had. 

At St. John’s, we are blessed to have amazing, creative, incredibly hard-working staff people, who work together to coordinate the work of the church.  Our pledges for the current year made up 83% of the church budget.  And 71% of that budget went toward personnel expenses, to pay our minister, our director of religious life, our music director, our accompanist, our caretaker, and our office administrator.  The rest of the budget paid for our many church programs, our building and grounds, and administering the work of the church.

Our pledge team wants each of us to give an amount that feels right, given our financial situation and our involvement in church.  My husband, Bill, and I have made an annual pledge every year, but the amounts have varied a lot, depending on our finances.  Bill and I have finally made it to the point where we can donate more to St. John’s because our son is grown, our house is almost paid for, and we don’t have pressing financial needs. But your situation will be different. It’s important to figure out what amount works for you.

One of the things I learned in preparing this talk is how very easy our pledge team has made it to give to St. John’s. You can set up recurring monthly donations from your bank account, your PayPal account, or a credit card. 

A great thing about monthly donations is that you can spread your contribution out over the year instead of paying it all at once. You can also just put checks or cash in the collection plate with an indication of who they are from and what they are for. And for old folks like my husband, if you have retirement savings in an IRA, you can make Qualified Charitable Distributions directly from your IRA to the church.  If you do that, you don’t pay either federal or state tax on the amount you donate, up to the amount of your Required Minimum Distribution. I’m a tax preparer for H&R Block and I love teaching my older clients about the magic of Qualified Charitable Distributions.  I’m actually looking forward to turning 72 in 2023, so I can do QCDs too! 

In the past two weeks, you should have received in the mail a packet that has important information about making a financial pledge to St. John’s. It also has a bookmark that holds a paper strip embedded with wildflower seeds to plant — how cool is that? And if you didn’t receive it, or have misplaced it, contact Joetta Prost, who is our pledge campaign coordinator. 

The pledge packet explains how important our pledges are.  It also provides suggestions for deciding how much you personally can pledge for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1st.

In conclusion, I encourage you to put some time and effort into figuring out what contribution amount is right for you. Maybe it will be $20 a month as a recurring donation. Maybe it will be $10,000. Whatever it is, when we put our funds together, we can pave the way to an even better future for St. John’s!