I want to share some good news from our stewardship campaign for 2023. We have received $409,824 in pledges for this year. That is a remarkable number, made even more so because of what has happened the last few years.
For a little history: For many years our pledges remained stable. The total might vary by a few thousand dollars, but seldom was there any dramatic change. For example, the 2018 stewardship campaign (for 2019) brought in $346,020. The next year’s pledges (for 2020) totaled $347,920. An almost $2,000 increase was a good thing.
Then the pandemic hit and the vestry and I help our breaths when it came stewardship time. By fall of 2020 we had not had in-person worship for almost seven months. What kind of hit would we take financially? The answer was astounding. That year we went from $347,920 to $375,485. That was an unheard of increase for “normal” times; and unbelievable in the midst of a pandemic. Then the next year it happened again. The 2021 campaign (for 2022) resulted in $403,669, another amazing increase.
When stewardship season began last fall our treasurer Lee Morris and I agreed that an increase was unlikely. But once again you proved us wrong. A $6,000 increase for this year is not as dramatic as the past two years, but it is still amazing.
These increases have meant that we have been able to give away more money (see the letter from the Bishop of Southwest Florida below). It has meant that we have been able to do more things around the church — like make long delayed improvements to the grounds. And it has meant that the staff has continued to receive much appreciated pay increases.
Many thanks to our stewardship chair Gwen McAlpine, our treasurer Lee Morris, and to all of you who contribute to the financial well being of St. Dunstan’s. And thanks to our vestry who serve as wise stewards of these gifts.
Those of you who were in church yesterday already know this, but I want to share with everyone that Joe has had a couple of falls recently that have resulted in two fractures of the vertebrae in his lower back. We spent last Monday in the ER, and were referred to an orthopedist. He is confident that the fractures should heal without surgery, which is great news. But for now things are pretty awful for Joe, who is in a lot of pain. It is hard for him to get up and down without assistance, so I am not comfortable with leaving him for more than a couple of hours at a time. I will be in the office briefly every day, but mostly I’ll be working from home. We’re hanging on to the doctor’s promise that this will get better. Please keep Joe in your prayers.
This weekend I received this letter from Bishop Douglas Scharf of the Diocese of Southwest Florida.
“Any of those among you who are of God’s people…are now permitted to go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord.” Ezra 1:3
Dear St. Dunstan’s
Hurricane Ian caused devastation to many of our churches and surrounding communities in four of the seven Deaneries in the Diocese of Southwest Florida. Given the magnitude of destruction, I am profoundly grateful for your generous gift of $9,050 to our Hurricane Ian Relief Fund. Your donation was put to work immediately to assist our congregations in the unsurmountable costs of the rebuilding phase of recovery. Humanitarian needs and the institutional integrity of our congregations cannot be met if our churches are not fully functional. The road to recovery will be long, but with gifts like yours, we will get there together.
Again, thank you for your generosity and please join me in continuing to pray for all of God’s people impacted by Hurricane Ian and who are called upon to rebuild the house of the Lord.
In the love of our Lord,
The Right Reverend Douglas F Scharf
Sixth Bishop of Southwest Florida