2020 Pledge Letter

October 26, 2020Dear People of the Advocate,
It seems to go without saying that 2020 has been a year like no other. The seasonal social rhythms that usually greet the marching of time have all but ceased for much of this year. The summer was not met with the big last day of school and kids finally home for 3 glorious months of freedom. There was no rushing in droves to pools and beaches or the intended summer travel plans to new or exotic locations or backyard parties and BBQ’s with groups of friends. The fall did not see kids returning all day to their respective schools or with fall sports and activities kicking into high gear, at least not in their typical in-person fashion for most. And through both seasons some have experienced the undermining of their financial and familial rhythms through the loss of income, small businesses, and in the most tragic circumstances, illness and loss of life. 
However, as always, God remains, and is ever-present in the natural seasonal rhythms that remain strong. Spring still bloomed forth with flowers, budding trees, rushing rivers and the planting of gardens. Summer brought its usual heat and humidity and an abundance of ripening fruits and vegetables in those gardens we planted. And, as we head into fall, we are starting to feel the nip in the air, colder nights and shorter days. The rhythm of nature marches on, pandemic or not. 
The ECOTA has kept its rhythms as well, from Lent, Easter and Pentecost to our weekly liturgies, screen side chats and house dinners. We’ve even managed to add new rhythms to meet the needs of our congregation in these times with nightly compline and weekly virtual villages. And here, now at the end of October, we find ourselves as a church, at the beginning of our yearly fall giving campaign. Our Vestry recognizes that because of the destabilization of our social, financial and political lives this year, this typical church rhythm may feel challenging for many.
However, we want to emphasize, despite the myriad of ways this year feels so fundamentally different, how you approach considering your pledge should be the same as any other year. Your pledge is a statement of your intention based on the current information you have on your financial situation. It is not a binding contract. Just as if you had an unexpected financial windfall and wanted to increase your pledge to the church it would be welcomed, if you experience unexpected financial hardship in 2021 and need to reduce your pledge it will be understood and met with love and support. This has always been the case before COVID-19 and will remain so on into the future.
With that understanding, our goal for 2021is to first and foremost hold a steady course through these unprecedented times on all levels, including financial. And, so far in 2020, we have been meeting our budgetary goals each month thanks to the ongoing generosity of all of the members and friends of The Advocate. In order to continue practicing responsible stewardship we need to look to at least meet the same operating budget we set for 2020 of $238,000, as those needs have not changed. However, we would not be the Episcopal Church of the Advocate if we did not remain aspirational, even in times of uncertainty. Although some costs have dipped because the lack of in-person fellowship this past year, some have been added such as:
·       Tech Steward to create our virtual choirs and assist during services·       Part-time Curate to meet additional pastoral, administrative and community engagement needs
·       Potential additional costs if we move to simultaneous in-person/online worship
·       Additional charitable requests due to the economic hardships many churches and organizations are facing

To meet all of these added needs would increase our current budget by roughly 15%. This would amount to an aspirational budget of $274,000.
With these goals in mind, we ask for you to faithfully start considering your pledge amount for 2021. For those members who have been blessed with increased income this year or who have been relatively unscathed financially by the pandemic, we ask you to consider increasing your pledge by 15% to help offset expected reductions in giving from church members and friends who may have been hard-hit in these times.
Finally, we whole-heartedly want to recognize the plethora of ways members give of their time and talents each week. From online video art direction, musicians and singers to picking up IFC food donations, making of pinch pots, leading screen-side chats and the organizing of virtual villages, the ROTA and book studies, just to name a few. Our community’s talents are abundant and generosity of time and spirit priceless. These important contributions keep us from having to add lines to our budget, while remaining who we want to be as a church. We thank each of you who have contributed in these essential non-financial ways.
We are asking that all pledges for the 2021 operating budget be in by November 29, the First Sunday of Advent. You may follow this link to a Google form where you may simply and quickly make your confidential pledge. You may also e-mail your pledge to the ECOTA church office (theadvocatechurch@gmail.com) OR mail a note directly to The Advocate, 8410 Merin Road, Chapel Hill, NC, 27516.
The Advocate VestrySara Paukovich, Senior Warden (unityacupunctureclinic@gmail.com)John Gillespie, Junior Warden (jpgillespie1969@gmail.com)Amanda Godwin (quiltyoga@gmail.com) Erin Dangler (erinrdangler@gmail.com) Donya Rose (to.donya@gmail.com)Andrew Hammond (ahammond2184@gmail.com)