1. Are there budget areas we can reduce or alternative ways to pay for this work? Our regular collections and existing reserves cannot generate enough additional revenue to undertake these projects. The parish’s operating budget is stretched as far as it can be and is unable to fund new capital projects. Borrowing for the long-term is an undue burden on the operating budget.
2. Why would our parish need a capital reserves fund? St. James’ seeks to build a capital reserves fund that is invested in the financial markets and restricted to cover expenses for any buildings and grounds needs that may arise in the near future. A capital reserves fund will allow St. James’ to have a permanent source of ongoing revenue that can help us weather economic downturns without necessarily having to allocate our annual operating budget to address capital projects. Additionally, spendable income from the capital reserves fund could be used to cover capital costs and facilities upkeep and maintenance without placing additional demands on the annual pledges and weekly plate contributions that fund the parish’s daily operations.
The present and future realities of maintaining our church necessitate careful planning and strategic investments in order to maintain and/or grow ministries to parishioners and others whom the Church serves. Maintaining our facilities is part of that mission, and our hope and expectation is to address these needs now, during a time of economic strength.
Many congregations of other faiths across the region have restricted funds that have been built up over decades. These funds complement the significant gifts offered by faithful members during good financial times and provide for continuity of service in difficult times. The funds raised through this campaign are merely intended to be a beginning. By educating parishioners about planned giving, we will offer the faithful an opportunity to perpetually sustain St. James’ and the Episcopal faith through their estate plans.
3. Is now really the best time for St. James’ to be doing this campaign? The Vestry considered timing very thoroughly when we decided to participate in Joining Jesus. There are many factors that contributed to our decision to campaign. We conducted a thorough planning study with the help of campaign counsel, which showed that there was an enthusiasm for our parish and for these projects. We have a vision at our parish that can be accomplished with funds raised through this campaign, and we have the opportunity to receive campaign counsel provided by ECCT, as well as to work collaboratively with other parishes to support the common vision of our wider Church and initiatives from which we will all have the opportunity to benefit. Further, the current economic environment is ideal for addressing these needs. Finally, we believe we have generated wonderful energy with the calling of our new rector, and think the time is right to use it to propel us forward.
4. What plans are being considering for repurposing our space? St. James’ is blessed with a large campus, which has served us well over the years. And, we are now challenged by a building that is not being utilized to its full potential. Re-imagining key spaces across our facilities will allow us to dream as a congregation about how we might be called to use our campus to continue to serve our parish community and wider community.
5. What makes us think we could generate $450,000? St. James’ is blessed with a generous and loyal faith community. Our past successes with raising money for other projects gives us confidence that potential exists in the parish for supporting a major campaign. Additionally, the results of a campaign feasibility study have made us optimistic that parishioners are ready to support these projects.
6. Why are we collaborating with the Episcopal Church in Connecticut on this campaign? We are all a part of a larger Episcopal Church faith community and should be committed to sustaining and growing the ministries and spirituality of every member both now and in the future. With this in mind, the intention is for the Joining Jesus campaign to benefit all in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Our parish campaign is dovetailing with the larger ECCT campaign—the first one conducted in many years—because it makes sense to do so. The current ECCT campaign, still in its quiet phase, is encouraging parishes to opt-in, raise money for their own needs, and direct a percentage of their fundraising to a portion of the larger campaign as they wish (just like any donor). Our parish has decided to contribute a portion of our campaign’s proceeds to Camp Washington.
7. How is the Joining Jesus campaign different from Common Mission Support? Common Mission Support provides necessary annual operating support for the annual Budget of Convention, a concrete example of our common witness to, and participation in, God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through it we support mission activities across Connecticut, in the broader Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, and ecumenically. Joining Jesus will raise new funds for extraordinary capital and programmatic needs that will fortify key programs within the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, as well as local parish needs. Through this campaign, ECCT will: provide new levels of financial support to parishes through local campaigns; further transform our Cathedral’s space as a site for engaging the world; provide support for the Regions with full-time Region Missionaries and an entrepreneurial fund for shared, innovative ministries; establish intentional Christian living communities in Connecticut; and enhance Camp Washington as a resource for faith formation for children, youth, and adults. Just as parishes depend on annual pledging, ECCT will continue to depend on funds for current operations from Common Mission Support.
8. Why aren’t we exempted from Common Mission Support during the year we run the campaign? During the course of the campaign, it is vital that we maintain the financial resources required to sustain the ministries, programs, and services funded by the Budget of Convention, which can only be accomplished through Common Mission Support.
9. How many other parishes are participating in the Joining Jesus campaign? Our parish is one of 13 parishes to date participating in this initiative over the past year. There is strength in numbers, and together with other parishes that have opted in, we are participating in transforming the greater Episcopal Church in Connecticut.
10. How will the Joining Jesus campaign affect our parish pledging? In the short term, pledging should remain level, with a possible small fluctuation up or down, as can occur in any year. Capital campaigns bring trans-formational resources for purposes above and beyond annual operating expenses. Annual pledges are critical to funding the day- to-day operating needs of our parish. In this campaign, we ask that parishioners consider a campaign gift that is above and beyond their regular giving.
11. Is it expensive to conduct Joining Jesus? Fundraising is a process that has many components, and investments must be made in order to complete the process. As part of the careful study and strategic planning that went into Joining Jesus, ECCT developed a budget that includes fundraising counsel, professional services, the design, production, and distribution of campaign materials, brochures, mailings and postage, as well as other administrative expenses. The funding for these services is being provided by Mission Council, from funds from the Missionary Society’s assets. St. James’ will be responsible for some printing and postage costs at the conclusion of the campaign, but they will be very minimal.
12. Are pledges legally binding? No. Pledges are not legally binding. If the donor’s financial situation changes such that a pledge cannot be satisfied, simply communicate that with the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and inform the donor that they will not receive further communications regarding their pledges.
13. Why are pledges encouraged, instead of one-time donations? Pledges provide parishioners with the opportunity to make a more significant gift to the mission of the Church. A contribution is easier to pay off over a period of time rather than a one-time gift out of pocket. In addition, pledges allow the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and your parish to better budget and plan for meeting the needs that will be addressed as a result of this campaign.
14. How much are parishioners being asked to give to the campaign? Parishioners are asked to prayerfully consider specific gift plans in accordance with their own means, circumstances, and sacrificial levels. Pledges are payable in monthly, quarterly, semi- annual or annual installments over a 5-year period.
15. Who handles the redemption of the pledges? Families are asked to make their pledges to the Joining Jesus campaign, at which time the Episcopal Church in Connecticut will be responsible for the redemption of the pledges. Staff will track pledges and gifts and handle the mailing of payment reminders over the 5-year pledge period. Each parish will receive regular reports detailing the names of the parishioners, and their pledged and paid amounts.
16. Where are the gifts deposited? To whom are the checks written? Where are they sent? Gifts and payments will be deposited in a campaign-specific fund managed by the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and disbursed to the appropriate entity or endowed fund according to each gifts’ designation. Donors will make out their checks to Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Pledges and initial payments will be collected at the parish while the campaign is active. Future payments will be mailed by donors directly to the Episcopal Church in Connecticut via a remittance form and envelope they receive with reminders. Donors may also choose to pay with other methods of giving such as credit card, stock transfers, or automatic bank withdrawal.
17. Will any of these funds be used for items other than the established case elements? No. The Joining Jesus campaign has both a legal and moral obligation to restrict these funds for the stated elements. The funds raised for the campaign will be used for the named case elements and in accordance with the donor’s stated intent.