In our annual stewardship campaign, titled, “Together In Faith,” we have so far focused on some key questions regarding Christian stewardship at Good Shepherd: “Why do we give to support the mission of the church?” “What does the church community mean to us?” “How does our faith relate to the sharing of our time, talent and financial resources?”
These are all good and important questions, but you might be wondering what the vision of Good Shepherd is for the next year and how the Vestry and the parish Stewardship Committee arrived at a dollar goal for the campaign of $455,000. Over the past year we have continued to make progress achieving some long-established goals for the parish, but we have also faced some challenges and some opportunities that have caused us to modify our vision. As many of you know, our five main goals over the past several years have been:
• Continue to reduce and eventually eliminate our mortgage debt (we’re almost there!).
• Continue to increase our annual pledge to support the work of the office of the Bishop of Colorado until we reach the expected amount of 10% of our annual income (we are currently at 9%, but hope to reach 10% in 2018).
• Hire a full-time Curate/Assistant priest for Good Shepherd (see below).
• Continue to increase the percentage of our annual budget that supports outreach ministry (although the Pumpkin Patch proceeds constitute a major part of our outreach donations, we have historically strived to designate an additional $5,000 - $10,000 for outreach from our annual operating budget).
• Employ a part-time youth minister and a part-time Communications Director (currently our Youth Minister, Rachel Whipp is ¼ time and our Communications Director, DeeDee Atwood devotes 20 hours per week to communications and 10 hours per week for contemporary music).
In 2017 there were three major changes in our vision of ministry for Good Shepherd that will impact our vision for 2018.
• First, we had to reduce our Curate, Alwen Bledsoe’s hours from full-time to half-time, and, in June, Alwen decided to leave Good Shepherd to work as a part-time chaplain at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal School in Denver. For the foreseeable future, unless the congregation grows in numbers, it does not look like we will be able to afford either a full-time or a half-time assistant priest. This means that we will not have a staff member to develop and support family ministry programs at Good Shepherd, although Rachel Whipp will follow up on some of the things that Alwen was doing with families.
• Second, in 2017, the Good Shepherd Vestry finalized a vision statement for the parish which states: “Our vision is to invite people to explore their life with God and to equip parishioners to live out their faith in the world.” This vision implies that, in order for Good Shepherd to continue to grow and prosper as the body of Christ, we will become much more intentional about offering programs and resources to support people in their spiritual growth and development as disciples of Jesus Christ. One outcome of this vision is our current small group program titled, “Discipleship: Explore Your Life With God.”
• Third, in order to develop the level of communications needed in a parish the size of Good Shepherd, Dee Dee Atwood’s hours were increased in order to enable her to create a new web site and a new weekly parish email newsletter, to develop publicity for all parish programs, and to promote the Music With a Mission Concert Series.
Our dollar goal for the 2018 stewardship campaign is the same as in 2017 because, even though we will not have a half-time Curate/Assistant Priest serving Good Shepherd in 2018, we would like to continue to support DeeDee Atwood in her work as our Contemporary Music Director and Communications Director, devoting 30 hours per week for this work. We would also like to increase Rachel Whipp’s hours from 11 to 15 hours per week. (This month Rachel will begin serving as the part-time youth minister for St. Gabriel’s in Cherry Hills Village and we look forward to opportunities for collaboration with the youth of St. Gabe’s.) Rachel has done a wonderful job growing our youth program. In addition, as previously mentioned, we would like, after 12 years of effort, to reach the 10% level of support for the Diocese and, if possible, to set aside a small amount of money for a deferred building maintenance fund since our physical plant is aging and in need of regular repair.
These are exciting times at Good Shepherd:
• At our first Music With a Mission concert on October 2, Stephen Fiess played an amazing piano concert to a packed house of over 250 people and donations for the Jamaica Dental/Medical Mission totaled $2,100 (1/4 of their anticipated budget);
• Our choir, under Connie Branton’s leadership, has grown to 30 members, which is the largest it has ever been;
• Our Pumpkin Patch outreach fundraiser is on track to raise over $30,000 in gross proceeds;
• On October 22, we rededicated our newly renovated basement/Sunday School area, which was made possible by hundreds of hours of parishioners’ volunteer labor;
• Nineteen of our middle and high school youth attended the annual fall “Quest” youth conference in Buena Vista the weekend of October 28.
Where do you fit into this picture? Where do you want to see Good Shepherd go in 2018? What excites you about the mission and ministry of this community? If you have thoughts or ideas about Good Shepherd’s vision for the coming year, please share them with me or with any member of the Vestry. We want to hear from you and we can’t fulfill this vision without your support.