God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
–Ephesians 3:20-21, The Message
Grace and peace to you in the name of our abundant God. Impacts to income and financial resources have been one of the significant and difficult impacts in the COVID pandemic. Today I want to give you some updates about the state of finances at Epworth as I celebrate your faithfulness and generosity.
2020 was a challenging year to say the least. There were many times I worried that we would end the year with a large deficit, particularly due to the loss of building use income. Annette Cayot took the lead in applying for a loan through the Payroll Protection Program which has proved critical to keeping cash flow positive and maintaining all staff. Most importantly, you stepped up, maintaining your giving and in some cases even going beyond your pledge. At year’s end, we ended with net revenue of $664.60. What a blessing and relief.
You also responded with generosity to the Stewardship Campaign. Thanks to Stewardship chair Paul Nasman who led us in a rich (pun intended!) campaign that resulted in a 13.5% net increase in pledging. Out of 92 pledges, 41 of those were increased for 2021. This is an incredible response!! Your faithfulness allowed Finance to create and recommend a balanced budget for 2021 to the Church Council (which passed) that offered 2% raises for staff, even with projections of not being able to return fully to our building until some point in the third quarter. Thank you, Epworth!
Our Finance team includes many persons. In addition to Annette and Paul, Willa Seldon chairs the Finance Committee and Kit Schweizer is our Church Treasurer. Kim Slaney and Greta Fillingim are our Financial Secretaries. The full Finance Committee meets monthly and there are several subcommittees working on a variety of issues. Thank you to each of our Finance team. Your diligence is greatly appreciated and your ability to stay calm in crisis has been a needed balm.
Part of our commitment each year is to give a tithe, 10%, of our income to the wider mission and ministry of the California-Nevada conference and the United Methodist Church. For this quadrennium (the last four years) that just ended, not only has Epworth given our full share to this wider ministry, our whole conference has done so. That doesn’t mean that each local church was able to meet their full obligation, but it does mean that together, with churches who had more giving more, we have met the conference goal. I chair the conference finance committee and Paul Nasman also serves on the conference finance committee. We were delighted at our January meeting when we were able to confirm that we could give 100% of what was asked for ministries in our region and across the globe.
We are not out this challenging time yet, but together, and with God’s help, we can respond to the impact of this pandemic and do great things. Thank you!
With deep gratitude,