Thanks to those of you who have submitted your Stewardship Response Forms!
We have received responses from 111 pledging units for a total of $439,268. If you have not yet submitted yours, please do so now. Click on the blue Online Stewardship Response Form in the right-hand column.
How Do You Decide Your Annual Financial Commitment to the Church?
For Cheryl and me it's a strange mix of careful financial planning, some intentional prayer, discussion, and discernment, a healthy dose of gratitude, and, in te end, the capricious movement of the Spirit.
This year it was a 1,2,3,4 process for us:
1. Financial planning. We decided years ago to give a Biblical tithe. The first time we made that commitment it was a crazy scary decision. Would we be able to keep our other commitments? What would we have to give up? That was then. Now, tithing is just a natural part of our faith journey. That's 10% of income off the top. But with a big downturn in 2009 and facing a 10%+ cut in our own income, we needed to make some hard decisions about money. After careful consideration we decided to NOT decrease our giving, even with a lower income.
2. Prayer and conversation. This year we face another hard decision. For 2010, the VPC leadership is asking for a 20% increase in giving. The increase would restore staff compensation and mission spending to 2008 levels. We decided to give at our current level, but we decided not to increase our giving for 2010.
3. The movement of the Holy Spirit. I love the way the Spirit moves in our midst. One recent warm afternoon, I was talking with our neighbor, Anita Wotiz. Anita shared the good news that Ted decided to retire in early December of this year - they will no longer have a steady income. In the face of this, Ted and Anita had a discussion about whether to increase their giving to VPC by 20%, and after looking at their financial situation they decided to say 'yes' to the increase! Now here's where I experienced the Holy Spirit...
4. A new decision. I went home and told Cheryl the story about Ted retiring and about Ted and Anita increasing their giving even as they face a new and changed financial future. I asked Cheryl, "What do you think?" Cheryl didn't hesitate, "I think we should do the same thing that Ted and Anita did." So, we changed our decision. And we feel good about it. I have to say that every time we make the decision to be generous, I never have any regrets. And, honestly, we always seem to make ends meet without a lot of effort.
So how do YOU decide? Your process will be different from ours. But I invite you to be intentional about your giving, asking…
Where are you financially? How much do you want? How much do you really need? What might it be like to make a significant gift from your resources?
Where has God blessed you? What are you grateful for?
How are you responsible (How are you 'able to respond') to the mission and ministry of Valley Church?
Have a conversation about giving with yourself, your spouse, and your family.
Be challenged. Grow your faith by growing your ability to give back.
Make an intentional financial commitment. Giving is a grace. It changes the way you are in the world. It changes the world.
Moment for Stewardship on Nov. 1 from Brett Battles
It’s that time of the year again – Stewardship Season. So when I started to think about what I would say in my Moment for Stewardship, I first went to the dictionary to read to this definition:
“Careful and responsible management of something entrusted to you"
As I reflected about that definition and the recent Stewardship emails, I thought I could speak to you about a lot of the challenges we are facing like:
Staff sacrifices due the economy and our budget challenges.
Cuts to our mission programs.
The physical infrastructure of the church buildings – the rotting education building deck, the leaky roofs.
But I thought more about all the blessings that I have been given:
My children growing up in a community of tolerance, compassion and care.
The time and effort others devote to our community so that we enjoy the lives that we do.
My own challenges with life's daily struggles and how that seems to wash away every Sunday when I come to Valley.
How blessed my entire life has been by so many things.
With that in mind, I propose this call to action:
You will receive your Stewardship Packet in the mail this week. When you get it, DO NOT OPEN IT! DO NOT get out your checkbook. DO NOT reach for your wallet.
Instead, I ask you to do something a little more difficult. Every day for at least a week, reflect on ONE THING for which you are grateful, both inside and outside the VPC community. Then write that down on the back of the envelope.
Do this in the quiet of the early morning or late in the evening when the day's tumult is done.
You might even invite your family members to do this reflection with you.
As I prepared this talk, I was aware of things that I take for granted:
Sometimes it's the physical beauty of where I live and worship.
Sometimes it's access to one of the country's best educational and health care systems.
Sometimes it's the fire department or clean water… 24/7.
Sometimes it's people: the ones who don't judge, but care and pray for me.
I know that you will have your own list. Then, at the end of one week, review your list, think about the awesome gifts you have been given, and reflect on the abundance that you have in your life. Then let that be your guide to giving to the 2010 Stewardship Campaign for VPC. Then bring your Stewardship Response Form to the Luncheon in Lane Family Hall on November 15.
Let's Look at the Numbers...
Ten Things You Need to Know About VPC's 2010 Stewardship Needs
The proposed 2010 budget restores staff compensation and mission giving to 2008 levels.
Last year, faced with "the great recession," Session approved a final 2009 budget that included a 10% cut to staff salaries (12% to the pastor's) and 10% of hours.
There was also a significant cut to mission giving. This meant cuts to our mission partners who count on our support.
The proposed budget for 2010 is $816,000. It restores the budget cuts plus the 3% cost-of-living increase the staff did not get in 2009.
This is a $48,000 INCREASE from the 2009 budget.
This restoration of the full ministry can only happen through increased giving of VPC family and friends.
Each donating unit (family, couple, or individual) will need to increase their giving. We are asking you to prayerfully consider a 20% increase in your giving to Valley Presbyterian Church.
If positive giving trends continue through the end of the year, VPC will end 2009 well.
This is thanks to the combined efforts of generous donations by VPC friends and family along with careful budgeting and good planning in this difficult economic environment.
Every gift makes a difference. Every gift is needed.
The good spirit, excellent programs, and caring ministry of VPC have stayed strong and healthy in this challenging year. You may not have noticed any differences in the way we did things this year, and that's good. Yet it all happened with a lot of creativity and generous volunteers, and with cutting a lot of corners and cutting back on our programs in the summer months. While we may not have missed the church-provided bottled water, food at coffee hour, summer babysitters and fewer musicians at some of our musical performances... our happy, productive staff has missed their full salaries, and we hope to restore it all in 2010.
Joel ben Izzy Shares the Gift of His Story - Oct. 18 "What seems like a curse might be a blessing."
"What seems like a blessing might be a curse."
Joel Ben Izzy, international storyteller and friend of VPC, was weaving the "Story of the Lost Horse." It is a story that challenges the expected. It beckons the listener into a world where we are surprised with life's happenings and invited to live all of life as gift.
Earlier, in worship, Joel, wearing his trademark hat, delighted the children (and adults) with a story about buried treasure. The telling of it included singing, dancing, laughter, improv, and an important message that buried "treasure" may be as close as the kitchen stove and that treasure needs to be shared.
But now his hat was off, and Joel was speaking from the heart to fifty VPC members about life as gift, and how to live responsively with the gifts we are given. Joel has an uncanny gift of taking ancient stories and gracefully weaving them into his own story. He talked about his good life as a storyteller, and how he lost his good life along with his voice when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. When he visited his mother, he used an erasable pad to "talk" with her. He came away with a new set of stories from her because, without a voice, he learned to listen. Joel shared about the surgery that restored his voice and the miracle of being alive and getting his work back.
Joel ben Izzy brought a powerful message to us. We found ourselves bursting into laughter over his uncle's "catsup collection," and we cried with him as he took us to the deep mystery of life. His story deeply touched our stories.
In the end, ben Izzy challenged us to be awake to the abundant gifts of our lives. The gift of being alive. The gift of family. The material and spiritual gifts. The gift of a healthy vibrant faith community. And the gift of leaving a legacy.
Joel ben Izzy was the speaker for the VPC Endowment Luncheon. Sponsored by the Endowment Committee and graciously hosted by Sue and Doug Chance, the event honored church members who have generously included Valley Presbyterian Church in their estate planning. The event is also an invitation to other church members to consider leaving a legacy gift to the church.
Have you considered the gifts of your life recently? Have you considered creating a legacy gift to the church? The Endowment Committee can provide you with good resources as you consider such a gift. For information contact Steve Pogue (650) 851-5221 or Mark Goodman-Morris (650) 851-8282 X107.
October 18 - Storyteller Joel ben Izzy in worship
October 25 - John Calvin, Special Guest in worship
November 1 - Mark preaches on "The Grace of Giving"
November 2 - Stewardship Packets mailed to congregation this week
November 8 - Mystery guest in worship
November 15 - "The Grace of Giving" Harvest Luncheon: a time of celebration with delicious food, fabulous entertainment, and fellowship. Your 'ticket' to lunch is your Stewardship Response Form!
November 17 - Session will make phone calls to those who have not turned in their forms