Frequently Asked Questions about Stewardship

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.      How essential is the church to our lives today?

A1.      Let me parody the State Farm commercial, “Like a good neighbor, St. Luke’s is there!”  It may be a child’s baptism, a parent’s death, a daughter’s wedding, a brother or sister’s illness, the need for an uplifting Christmas Eve Service, or many other things one can think of.  Also the need to be there for community outreach, warm coats for winter, food for one’s family, a meeting place for the community.  We all need to do our part to ensure St. Luke’s readiness to serve.                                                   Peter Bingham

Q2       How relevant is the church to our lives today? 

A2.      In this time of Covid, when people are isolated from one another, suffering from loneliness and anxiety, financial and physical struggles, the church is a source of community and connection, healing, and hope.  In a very practical way, when people are hungry, we feed them.  When people are hungry spiritually, we feed them as well.  The issues of our day are moral issues, issues of our spirit, and our souls which define who we are and whose we are. These are times when we are asked what we believe and are challenged in very real ways to live those beliefs out.  The church connects people with the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ and helps them share that love and grace with others.                                                                                     Dean Shambaugh

The church stands in counterpoint to our increasingly greedy capitalistic system which favors white people with money over people with lower incomes, those struggling to make ends meet at all, and people of color.  The church emphasizes community and caring for others.  Some examples of this are outreach programs such as food pantries, essentials pantries, and at St. Luke’s, helping educate children at a school in Duny, Haiti.  At an ecumenical level, St. Luke’s is one of several churches which has helped families experiencing homelessness have shelter, find the programs and assistance they need, and find new homes that they can be successful in maintaining.  Through programs such as Becoming Beloved Community and a Dismantling Racism curriculum for youth, The Episcopal Church is a leader in forming programs to educate White people about our complicity in racism through the systems we benefit from.  In Maine, The Committee on Indian Relations aligns itself with the Wabanaki peoples, helping to advocate for their rights and legislation that secures their rights.  The Episcopal Church also embraces science.  This means that we both model and advocate for healthy practices such as wearing masks in the current pandemic, hand washing and social distancing.  To safeguard democracy, the Church as a whole advocates voting and there are many get out the vote efforts by people of the Christian faith.  One example is people who participated in St. Luke’s Sacred Ground curriculum are now actively engaged in helping to sign up people to vote locally, and afar by sending postcards to targeted areas.                                                                                                                                 Rev. Eleanor Prior

Q3.      I don’t feel a part of the church anymore.  Why should I give?

A3.      The Church is a strong and powerful force advocating for the love and care for all of God’s creation.  At St. Luke’s, that means inreach such as pastoral care and online and Zoom offerings and outreach such as Food Pantry and St. Elizabeth’s Essentials.  The Church would be sorely missed if it withered and died through lack of money and apathy!                                                                                                            Nancy Brain

Q4.      Isn’t the organized church a dying institution?

A4.      Not at St. Luke’s Cathedral!  Key elements of the Church’s faith and teaching will survive, and even flourish, no matter what the external circumstances might be.  Our Judao-Christian heritage has flourished over 6,000 years where other religious traditions have simply disappeared.  What survives for us is the Jew’s gift to the world of Ethical Monotheism, and from the Christians the gift of the fully lived life after the example of the risen Christ.  The Church grows where there is Christ-centered living given over to helping those in need; it flounders and ceases to exist where there is no exemplary living manifesting God’s love for all of creation.  The broader church’s declining memberships are signals to once again proclaim more vigorously by deeds and words God’s love and God’s demands for discipleship.

Dr. Robert Hanson

 

Q5.      Why should I give to the church when it is closed for the most part and I can’t come?

A5.      St. Luke’s is not closed for the most part!  In fact, it has remained open and is almost as busy during the week as it was before Covid.  In any event, Church isn’t only something we come to; church is who we are.  Given the size of our staff, clergy and lay, which is not huge for the task at hand, St. Luke’s offers opportunities for online worship, classes and book discussions, committee meetings, and outreach out to people at home.  Communications between the church and the congregation have been reassuring to those who put in the time to read the information that is sent on a near daily basis.  Our clergy quietly continue their pastoral work – not everything is about Covid; peoples’ lives and pastoral needs continue.  Our outreach work goes on apace and is more needed than ever.  Whether or not you “come to church,” it is important to keep St. Luke’s strong for all who depend on it now and for generations to come.                      Priscilla Webster

The building may be mostly closed but we aren’t, and we are the church.  To continue financial support means we maintain steadfast hope we will gather there again soon – together in-person to worship God.  It also means we care about all the time and effort our clergy and staff continue to commit to keeping us all connected, to provide Zoom church, and to tend to our pastoral needs.  Our church continues and we need to support those who support us.                                                                       Sallie Smith

Q6.      What if I’ve really been financially hurt by aftermath of the pandemic?

A6.      These are challenging times for everyone, and we understand that 2020 has been a very difficult year.  But perhaps consider that this is a faith-based pledge, and making a pledge for next year, when the times are sure to be better for most of us is just that.  Should your situation not improve, we understand that you may have difficulty meeting your pledge and that others will step up.  You can also pledge time; we are always looking for extra hands around the Cathedral.                                                     Jamie Cough

Q7.      Aren’t there fewer tax benefits of charitable giving now?

A7.      A few parishioners may enjoy fewer tax benefits.  Most will not see any change.  Most St. Luke’s donors give cash.  If they itemize deductions, which is likely if they have a mortgage, they’ll continue to deduct all contributions to us and other charities.  Those who itemize and make gifts of appreciated securities will continue to get the double benefit of a full charitable deduction with no capital gains tax on appreciation.  Those who make gifts from family foundations, donor advised funds, and charitable trusts will see no change in their tax treatment.  Donors who do not have a mortgage may no longer be itemizing deductions.  There is a small deduction available to non-itemizers, but it’s only $300 and is not meaningful to most.  These donors might benefit from strategic planning, which could help them and help the church at the same time.  For instance, older donors may not have a mortgage but are likely to have an IRA.  If they are over 70 1/2, distributions can be made directly to charities including St. Luke’s.  Other donors may develop “bunching” strategies to preserve tax benefits in alternate years.  Though we can’t give individual tax advice, we’d be happy to explain how these techniques might benefit you.                                                                             Connie Bingham

Q8.      Why should I encourage my children to go to Sunday school?

A8.      There are many reasons.  Child and youth programs offer an opportunity to learn that God loves them, that Jesus gave himself for them and the Holy Spirit fills them.  Children and youth receive the support and mentorship of adults who model and show them the Christian faith.  Formation programs allow children and youth to develop friendships with peers who are learning and exploring the same faith-building issues and ideas and to know God in music, jokes, fellowship, and joy.  Religions have played an important role in human belief systems for centuries because it answers questions humans can’t answer based on observation.  To understand a lot about human behavior, you need to understand religion.                                                                            Sarah Dowling

 

Q9.      Isn’t talking in church about social issues – racism and treatment of minorities by whites; the economic downturn caused by the pandemic; the challenge of staying healthy in the pandemic; the challenge to our health care system; the threat to our democracy by an increasingly authoritarian executive – mixing politics and religion?  Is that a good idea? 

A9.      If we claim to be followers of Jesus then we are obligated to take on Jesus’ work, which was centered around issues of social justice.  Jesus sought out and cared for the poor, the sick, and the people on the margins, and so must we.  It is our job to witness their suffering, to hear their cries, and to do what we can to correct the injustices that cause them pain or suffering.  Political systems, when managed by people guided by the teachings of Jesus, can be powerful tools for addressing injustice and promoting God’s agenda in the world.  We gather at church to talk about social justice issues so that when we engage with the political system in the polling place, we will use the power of our votes to promote social justice and to continue Jesus’ work here on earth.

Rev. Suzanne Roberts

Q10.    How important to the future of St. Luke’s is this year’s Stewardship Campaign?

A10.    From a fiscal perspective, this Campaign has unusual importance because of the circumstances posed by the Covid-19 emergency.  First, traditional non-pledge revenues from building rentals, the Holiday Fair, and other fundraisers have been impeded, leaving a $50,000 revenue shortfall.  Second, to meet increased parishioner needs during a time when the overall Cathedral community is unable to gather together in-person, the Vestry has committed to retaining a full complement of clergy, which, combined with necessary building maintenance expenses, and outreach programs, leaves very little flexibility for cutting expenditures.  Third, restrictions on in-person Cathedral services and gatherings are severely limiting the ability to attract new pledging members.                                                                                                                                            Tim Reiniger

Q11.    How has St. Luke’s adapted to the Covid-19 environment?

A11.    During this time of Covid, St Luke’s has learned that “church” is not a building but a people, and not a noun but a verb.  From phone calls to Zoom gatherings, from daily emails to daily prayers, from live-stream to in-person worship and the return in the past few weeks of communion itself, St. Luke’s and St. Lukans have shown remarkable resilience, pivoting, adapting, and making changes that have allowed our mission and ministries to continue to thrive.  Through the National Cathedral and Diocesan services, we have rediscovered our connection to the wider church.  Through our pantries and social justice work, we have renewed our connection to the wider community.  Through phone calls and small groups we have renewed our connection with one another.  Through Compline, the World Too Beautiful, Morning Prayer, and many other services and small communities, we have renewed our connection with God.  It hasn’t been an easy or a particularly smooth path, but through God’s grace and the hard work of so many people in so many ways, the Cathedral’s doors have remained open, our mission and ministries have remained strong, and our faith in God is stronger than ever before.                                                                                                                    Dean Shambaugh

Fill out your pledge card online:

2021 PLEDGE CARD- ONLINE

To download your pledge card and mail to St. Luke’s office:

2021 PLEDGE CARD – TIME, TALENT AND TREASURE

To contribute online:

 Contribute To St. Luke’s Cathedral