Stewardship: The Way Ahead
It’s been a trying year – one of isolation, uncertainty, relief and then more uncertainty. We’ve all been touched by a sense of precarity. We’re all looking for ways to step into the coming year with a sense of faith and trust, allowing those qualities to guide us, rather than whatever anxieties may gnaw at our souls.
It’s telling that the earliest Christian communities called themselves the Way – not the Answer. The Way implies a path that’s forged through uncertain and unknown terrain. It suggests the importance of action, of movement, rather than static beliefs. It implies a church must actively undertake efforts that sustain, challenge and uphold the dignity of life on our fragile planet, no matter what.
FCCOL is a church that does just that. We strive to translate our faith into action. We seek to make our church a Way – not just a picturesque gathering place, but a pathway through the luminous dark. We have leaned into the upheavals of this past year and worked hard to meet the needs of those around us.
We need your support to continue doing just that. Your compassion, generosity and commitment enable us to translate our beliefs into a vibrant Way through the world for all of us. It’s simply not possible without you.
Please return your Commitment Card, and then, if you like, you can arrange your payments online at www.fccol.org/donate. Please give as generously as you can to support our 2022 Stewardship Campaign. Thank you for all you do to ensure that FCCOL offers a vital, essential Way through this world.
Ministry & Outreach Funding
Each year, we devote our financial resources to six major categories of ministries and outreach efforts. Last year, we were able to allocate a total of $826,274 made possible by your generous support of our Stewardship Campaign and special contributions. Our budget continues to be impacted by the pandemic, but that has not stopped us from tending to our ministries and our outreach. If anything, those needs have become more acute, but your generosity has enabled us not only to maintain those ministries, but in many cases, to strengthen them even further.
Throughout the past year we have needed to be extraordinarily flexible in the format of our services. From livestreaming over YouTube to Zoom services, and from pre-recorded offerings to outdoor services in the autumn and spring, we have offered more than a hundred inspiring worship services that have helped sustain our community, and strengthen our spirits. That included special services during Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter – no small task in the Covid era. Our three ministers have delivered consistently challenging sermons, and we have been able to maintain spiritual practices that allow for fellowship, meditation, prayer and the enjoyment of sacred music.
Even during the pandemic, we have offered a vibrant Sunday School program for young people of all ages – sometimes conducted online, and whenever possible, in person. Our Adult Forum and Sacred Conversations series presented opportunities to explore and discuss challenging issues, and we have had numerous opportunities throughout the year to nurture our understanding of other faiths and cultures. In addition, our Bible study group has met weekly during the pandemic, and our book club, as well as other groups have continued to meet.
One of our great sadnesses during the pandemic has been the inability of our choir to safely rehearse and perform. However, a continual rotation of soloists and small ensembles – across many genres and styles – have enhanced and strengthened each of our services. In addition, a seasonal bell choir, and some innovative uses of music and sign language among our Sunday School kids, have allowed music to remain a core feature of FCCOL’s spiritual life. Our professional directors and soloists have ensured the high quality of music in our community.
Our Board of Missions (through the operating budget) generously support more than 75 local and international charities each year. And while we have not been able to hold a White Elephant Sale for two summers in a row, the Ladies Benevolent Society continues to help support both local and international organizations. These include vibrant, ongoing partnerships with churches in South Africa, a Native American community in South Dakota, the village of Beit Sahour in Palestine and an educational foundation in Haiti. In many cases, your generosity has enabled us to increase our support of those partnership communities, given the stresses placed upon them as a result of the pandemic.
We are one of the largest sites in Southeastern Connecticut for the Shoreline Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens, which distributes groceries to families in need each week. Those needs have expanded during Covid, and we have been able to respond in kind. We continue to have active refugee resettlement and immigration assistance programs. So too, we have continued to host many community organizations, such as Red Cross blood drives, Musical Masterworks, AA meetings, and other activities important to the wider Old Lyme community. Our church also partnered with several other organizations in town to install Witness Stones along Lyme Street, commemorating the lives of enslaved people who lived in our town. The pandemic hasn’t slowed our community outreach – it has increased the need for such work.
Our three ministers are available at all times for the pastoral care needs of our congregation, along with other members of our wider community. Such needs have increased markedly during the pandemic. These gifts of service include visits to homes, hospitals, and nursing facilities. Our ministers also offer memorial services, weddings, and grief, pre-marriage, and baptism counseling. We maintain individual support groups for people coping with grief, cancer, and caregiving; and our Minister’s Discretionary Fund and Love in the Time of Corona Fund enable us to provide direct financial support to neighbors in need.
We are thankful and blessed for being able to continue these vital ministries through the generous support of our members and friends.
How Much Do People Usually Give?
The average annual gift given by our church members is around $1,600 – so, about $130 a month. We invite our members to give as generously as they are able to in this challenging year to support our ministries and missions, and we thank you for all the good you make possible.
Why Can’t I Just Give in the Collection Plate?
In order to plan our annual budget, we need to have an idea of what our income is going to be, so our expenses don’t exceed it. Knowing your intent is important, which is why we ask our members to make a pledge in October. Your contribution matters. We invite you to give generously to support our ministry and missions, and thank you for all the good you will make possible.
I Cannot Afford To Give Much - Do I Need To Fill Out a Pledge Card?
Every gift counts, every gift is appreciated, and every intention to give helps us better plan our ministry and missions. Filling out a pledge card enables us to ensure that our expenses don’t exceed our income. It helps us be financially responsible. We invite you to give as generously as you can to support our ministry and missions, and thank you for all the good you will make possible.
I Attend the Church, but am Not a Member - Do I Need To Return the Pledge Card?
The financial responsibility of our church rests on the shoulders of the whole congregation – members and friends alike. If you participate in the life of our church, we encourage you to participate in its support. Your financial contribution matters. We invite you to give generously to support our ministry and missions, and thank you for all the good you will make possible.
Can I Give My Gift All in One Check?
What If I’m Unable To Meet My Annual Pledge?
The pledge card is an intention to give, not a legal contract. If, for any reason, you cannot meet your intention, we certainly will understand.
I Lost My Pledge Card - What Should I Do?
You can contact us at the church office at 860-434-8686 or firstname.lastname@example.org with your pledge, or ask us by phone or email to send you a new pledge card.
Thank you for all the good you make possible. If you have other questions, please call the church office to be put in touch with a member of the Board of Stewardship.
Making Stewardship Donations
It’s never been easier to make a contribution. Contributions to our Stewardship Campaign are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
You are welcome to make your Stewardship Campaign contributions online through the church’s website using a credit card. All donation information is encrypted and the church does not share your personal or financial information. If you’ve previously donated online, click here to make your 2021 Stewardship Campaign contributions. If you haven’t set up an online account with us yet, it’s simple and free to do. Please click here.
Donating by Mail
You are welcome to mail contributions being made by check to the church at First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 2 Ferry Road, Old Lyme, CT 06371. Please write “2021 Stewardship Campaign” on the memo line of your check so we may direct your contribution properly and give you proper recognition in our charitable contribution statements.
Donating in Person
Donating in person is currently somewhat difficult due to the pandemic. If you plan to return your pledge card or make a contribution by check or cash at a live worship service, the church will provide specific instructions in advance of and during that service. Please be advised that live services are being held only rarely and in compliance with all recommended public health precautions.
Our ministries and missions here at home, across the country and around the world … the care and upkeep of our historic building and grounds … the salaries of our pastors … they all require money to make them possible. We are are grateful for each and every contribution, no matter how large or small. And we account for every dollar that’s been donated.