Stewardship: How Firm a Foundation

It’s been a challenging year for our community, congregation and church – one filled with unexpected new developments and ongoing uncertainties. Despite the uncertainties of the times we live in, and the sorrows and anxiety they bring, there is a firm foundation upon which we stand.

That foundation is found in the life and teachings of Jesus, in the witness of the Hebrew prophets, and in the God that they reveal. That foundation is found in the Spirit that continues to sustain and support us – a Spirit that goes by many names, and appears in many guises. That foundation is firm enough to steady our feet and continue our efforts to bring about meaningful changes in our families, congregation, community and world.

Our church is one important way this foundation manifests in our lives. Through our ministry, we share our faith with one another. Through our outreach efforts, we put our faith into action in service to others.

Your generosity enables us to continue this work even during troubling times. Please return your pledge card when you receive it in the mail, then – if you prefer to donate online – set up your weekly or monthly contributions at www.fccol.org/donate. Please give as generously as you are able this year.

Thank you for all the good you make possible. And thank you for being a part of this church’s foundation.  

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 $854,811 – made possible by your generous support of our Stewardship Campaign and special contributions.  While our budget has been impacted by COVID-19, the pandemic has not stopped us from tending to our ministries or missions and, if anything, has made the need for them more acute.

 

Worship Services

We conduct more than 130 inspiring worship services every year in our historic Meetinghouse and the South Lyme Chapel. In addition, we offer special holiday worship services during the Christmas, Easter, Lenten and Thanksgiving seasons. Our three, full-time ministers deliver consistently challenging sermons and our services provide quality time for fellowship, meditation, prayer and the enjoyment of sacred music. In recent months, we have found innovative ways to continue this ministry through the use of videotaped services and Zoom meetings.

Christian Education

For our youth, we offer a vibrant Sunday School program called God’s Neighborhood, as well as Pilgrim Fellowship programs for junior and senior high school students. Our Adult Forum series presents opportunities to explore and discuss challenging issues; and “Diversity Sundays” nurture our understanding of other faiths and cultures. We also offer a Bible study group, a book club, poetry and writing groups. Once the pandemic hit, we found ways to offer many of these activities in virtual form.

Music

Our extensive music programs enhance both our worship services and the lives of our congregation members.  We support a nearly 50-member Senior Choir, a Children’s Choir, a seasonal bell choir, music sessions during God’s Neighborhood and special concerts year-round – all led by professional directors and soloists.

Mission Outreach

Our Board of Missions (through the operating budget) and the Ladies Benevolent Society (through the annual White Elephant Sale) generously support more than 75 local and international charities each year. These include the vibrant, ongoing partnerships we nurture 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. We continue to find ways to strengthen these missions in the wake of the pandemic.

Community Outreach

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 – even during COVID-19. We have active refugee-resettlement and immigration-assistance programs. And we host local Boy and Cub Scout Troops, Red Cross blood drives, Musical Masterworks concerts, Visiting Nurse Association activities, AA meetings and other activities important to the community. The pandemic has increased the need for this outreach.

Pastoral Care

Our three ministers are available at all times for the pastoral-care needs of our congregation and other members of our community. These gifts of service include making socially distanced visits to homes, hospitals and nursing homes – the need for which has increased during the pandemic. Our ministers also offer memorial services and grief, pre-marriage and baptism counseling. We maintain individual support groups for people coping with grief, cancer and caregiving; and our Ministers’ Discretionary Fund and Love in the Time of Corona Fund enable us to provide direct financial support to neighbors in need.

Stewardship FAQs

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?

Yes.

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 fccol@fccol.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.

Donating Online

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.

Annual Reports

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.

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