Dear Cann Family,
This is a difficult year. There's no way around that. But I have seen, over and over again, in the wake of pandemics and anxiety, of cancelled plans and disrupted dreams, and of economic challenges and uncertainty, how this congregation has come back to the well of faith, and drunk deeply of Christ's promises of hope, peace, and salvation.
As we approach stewardship season, it seems tactless, even tone-deaf, to be asking for money when so many of us are anxious about our own finances. We will have to dig deep this year in order to fund the church's ministries in 2021. While this year we have been blessed with extra resources, that is not always the case. And like our own homes, we still have expenses to maintain the physical church building, as well as the life and ministries of the church. As your Pastor for the last 8 years, I have seen how deeply we draw from the church--from this community and all the comfort it offers and from the God we greet each week in worship--in times of crisis.
This church is like a well. It may take backbreaking sacrifice to dig the shaft, build the walls, and to pull up heavy buckets. But the water we draw from this well is Christ's living water, given for us that we may never thirst.
The well is ours, but the water is Christ's.
So this year I am asking you to dig deeply, but also to draw often, and drink freely. Sacrifice with us, work with us, dig with us to create this church as a place where all find rest, comfort, and love; but then sit a minute, and do not forget to drink from the well yourself, from Jesus' living water that never runs dry.
Over the next few weeks, I ask you to prayerfully consider what you expect to be able to give in 2021. We fully understand that financial promises are often just guesses right now, and you are always free to adjust your pledge at any time if you find your circumstances change. However, having an estimate of what we expect our financial resources to be allows us to create a responsible and reasonable budget. Information on how to pledge are included in this letter.
When you are ready, please fill out our electronic pledge form, or contact the office for a paper pledge form. You may also simply email receiving treasurer Janet Jones directly with your pledge. To best create our budget, we are asking for pledges to be returned by December 1.
Above all, I give thanks for the generosity of this congregation that has sustained through this year's upheaval, and for the free-flowing gifts of God that enable us to move forward into an uncertain future with sure and certain hope in the Lord.
Cann Memorial Presbyterian Church is an active community of about 95 people, both formal members and non-member friends. Together we spend about $155,000 each year to create a nurturing, worshipful, generously joyful community where each person can trust they belong and are beloved. From that sense of belonging and belovedness we also turn outward, touching countless lives through our witness, mission, and service.
Broken down, it takes about $5 per day from every person in our church family to sustain our life of faith together. For some of us, $5 a day is pocket change. For others, it's an impossible sacrifice.
This is where being part of a community of faith comes in handy. The church is not like a subscription service; whether you give extensively or not at all, you still belong and you are still beloved.
We know that given the financial consequences of COVID-19, increasing or even sustaining past pledges may be a challenge. We ask you to dig deep, to give what you can, and to know that your generosity is providing a faith home for us all.
Beyond money, we also know that simply participating in the life of the church can be a challenge now. Many of our ministries have become by necessity more complicated. Especially for those of us whose health risks mean we cannot responsibly take part in group gatherings, being part of the church takes a lot more effort and intentionality these days.
We are so grateful for the work you are putting in to keep connected to our ministries. You are seen, and you are cherished. Please keep pushing through, until that day when we can all be safely reunited.
Even with the contortionist-like flexibility 2020 has required, our calling has remained unchanged: to nurture a community that worships together, deepens our life of faith together, cares for each other, and serves God's children together.
In March, with just a few days' notice, we pivoted to first a worship mailed at home. We then, with the help of grant monies, volunteer support, we began to record sermons and music to accompany the worship outlines, posting them on our website. In September, we pivoted again to a full online worship model. Our hope is to transition soon to a hybrid online and in person worship. Even with the changes and learning curves, we never missed a beat in our worshipful rhythm.
During the shut-down, the session has strived to stay connected to every single member of our church family. They have brought by pop-by bags filled with goodies to remind them they were remembered, loved, and prayed for.
We received grant monies to provide news ways of worshiping online, even providing tablets to some of our parishioners without internet access.
We continued to pay our staff their full salary, fulfilling our commitment to care for those who care for us thanks to federal grant money. The PC(USA) Board of Pensions also suspended the dues on Pastor Elizabeth’s benefits for three months in the summer. Helping us to manage our budget this summer.
For seven months, our Children’s ministry coordinator, Rebecca Rawls has been sending our youngest disciples activities and Bible stories to continue to nurture their love of the Scriptures.
In September, we began providing some of our regular programming as well, in new formats: Weekly Bible Study via Zoom and Book Club online as well. Knitters, have been knitting at home and donating some of their work to our local ICU for those who are critically ill.
We continue to support our ECP backpack buddies last spring, packing bags for the school social workers and will continue to support them through this school season.
We continue to provide monthly meals for SOULs feeding, helping to serve those who need meals.
We continue to commit to supporting the Community Care Collaborative in Elizabeth City, which supports emergency funding for people in our community.
And most importantly, as we have been battered by crisis upon crisis, we have shared with each other words of hope, love, and faith.
This church is deeply enriched by every person who prays with us, learns with us, and works with us. You were not meant to work forever and never drink living waters yourself. You matter. So don't forget that the love of this church is for you, too. Draw deeply from what we offer, and rest beside Christ's deeper well.