A story of optimism from a Foundation client church
Early in the spring, before closing the church doors for worship was even imagined, Davidsonville UMC were planting trees. The trees will eventually provide shade for the playground that serves the smallest members of the church and their child development center. Since the Covid-19 crisis forced the closure of the church building for worship and for school, the trees have bloomed into a beautiful symbol of hope and resurrection.
Pastor Wendy van Vliet shared the following testimony about the ways in which her congregation continues to be the church in their community, thanks to strong leadership and robust financial practices.
“Davidsonville UMC has a strong team of leaders and staff who are in tune with the surrounding culture and strive to use a multitude of tools to help people be disciples of Jesus. To help our people live into their God-given generosity we had already established “3-ways-of-giving.” Our people can give online, or by texting, or by dropping their envelopes in the plate. We also promote electronic recurring giving through electronic fund transfer (EFT). When Covid-19 hit, we had to close our doors, but the pathways for giving remained open.
Our leaders quickly recognized the danger of reduced funding for church ministries. Our greatest worry was our child development center. We shifted our education to online platforms and mailed learning packets – and we stopped collecting tuition from the parents. Yet we needed to continue to meet the payroll needs of our teachers and staff, as well as the church staff and clergy. We sent a letter to the members and friends of the congregation sharing stories of our ongoing ministries, asking them to help, and reminding them of the 3-ways-of-giving. We let them know of our secure PO Box for donations by check.
Ministry is important. So far, we have received more than $10,000 in donations (not tuition) specifically in support of the child development center and we are running at about 90% of regular giving to the church. This week, a former member promised a substantial gift for the church just because “our ministries change lives.” He doesn’t even live in our state anymore, but he wanted to support us. We have been proactive applying for the CARES Payroll Protection Plan but have not yet received that money. We went into this coronavirus season with good savings, so we have remained financially strong. We have been able to shift worship and studies online and have added morning prayers and new Bible and group studies to meet the changing needs of our congregation.
The Baltimore Washington Conference has provided webinars and support so that other churches can use these same tools to maintain their ministries and regain financial strength. Davidsonville UMC is just an example of using those resources well.”
Pastor Wendy went on to thank the Foundation for the education and inspiration for the current financial management at her church. She looks forward to the day when the children of the church will be playing under the trees once more.