“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men....” (Colossians 3:23)
2021 Printable Pledge Card - please print on 2 separate pages and seal in an envelope that goes to the church treasurer, Kate McClain. Your financial stewardship is always confidential and is only seen by the treasurer.
Dear St Philothea Family,
As we approach the end of this year, it is time for us to take stock of where we stand and where we hope to go. The past year has been colored by pandemic and political turmoil, but as serious as these may be, they are merely distractions to fulfilling the goals set before us. You have acknowledged these concerns to be just distractions by maintaining your love and support for Christ’s Church and, in particular, this parish. Even amidst these unprecedented challenges, you have faithfully given to the parish and have helped greatly in maintaining an Orthodox Christian presence in Oconee County and beyond. Thank you so very much for being a faithful steward - your sacrificial giving is greatly appreciated.
All has not been gloom and doom for us. Yes, we have certainly had our challenges, just as all American churches have experienced, but we have forged forward in certain respects. Our capital campaign has raised over $80,000 in donations and, when the remaining pledges have been collected this upcoming year, we can expect to see our building mortgage drop below $500,000 for the first time ever. This is an important achievement as our debt starts to become more manageable for the size of our parish. We have also installed a new HVAC system in our church building as this was a sorely needed renovation. By installing this new equipment, we have tremendously dropped our utility bill, which is amongst our largest monthly expenses. Couple this with a reduced mortgage and we have reduced our monthly load by over $2,000. So, you see, we are working hard to use our resources wisely.
In his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, St. Paul commends the fledgling parish for their commendable behavior. He then exhorts them to be ‘even more so’. Likewise, we would like to commend you and exhort you to continue and even boost your financial gifts as well as with your time and talents. We are not attempting to predict the future, but there are indications that new therapeutics and vaccines will soon be released to greatly curb COVID-19 and help restore a normal lifestyle for us all. So, hang in there. While we await this return to ‘normalcy’, we still need to serve one another and our community. Many of you are still nervous about congregating in person and that is understood. Still, we encourage
you to be active with your church family through other means. The Divine Liturgy has continued to be celebrated weekly through this crisis: if you cannot be physically present, then you are certainly welcome to join us via the Internet as we have invested in some excellent audio and visual equipment. Our parish council has taken it upon themselves to reach out to parish members and hold informal chats via Zoom. You don’t have to wait to be invited by one of them – you can reach out to them or even form your own little group. Our OCF group still meets bi-weekly, it just does so now around a campfire at volunteers’ homes. Have some firewood to burn? We are still providing monthly meals to the Bigger Vision homeless shelter because pandemic or not, homeless people still need to eat. And we just took a nice collection this past Sunday that will help us fulfill our pledge to Dr. Bill Black, who serves as an Orthodox missionary in Kenya through OCMC.
We have included a stewardship card for you to fill in and return. We also hope to have an on-line version of the card set-up by the time you receive this letter. Filling in and returning the card helps us make sure our contact information is up-to-date, as well as encourage you to get involved in at least one ministry in which you can invest your time and talents. If you are tired of hearing the same things from the same people all the time, now is your chance to introduce some changes – get involved. Finally, we need to receive your estimated tithe for next year. It is not a legally binding commitment, but a realistic number helps us formulate a realistic operating budget for the upcoming year. If you have not noticed, we have cut way back on the incessant fundraisers and are truly attempting to be funded by stewardship. This is a conscious effort on our part on diverting our energies from fund-raising to being witnesses for Jesus Christ in our part of the world. We have included a tithing chart that will help you evaluate an incremental increase in your gift to the parish.
In closing, let us again say, “Thank you” for your support. Every single gift is important to us. We rejoice that Christ has chosen us to be His witness in this part of the world. Let us be faithful stewards of the talents He has provided to us. We pray that all of us will receive the accolade of “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
In His Name,
Fr Anthony Salzman, priest Mike McClain, stewardship committee chair