ST. JOHN’S UNITED CHURCH,
FALL RIVER, NOVA SCOTIA
• Suburban setting
• 225 households
• People gave $17,871 to Mission & Service
Before last fall, our church adn’t conducted a steward- ship campaign in years. We
didn’t even have a standing stewardship committee until summer 2016.
But several factors forced us to change.
Last year, we had a deficit budget
and a decrease in Mission & Service
giving. At the same time, we wanted
to hire a half-time ministries mentor
position to support future programming for young people and seniors. It
was time for a serious plan of action.
It was a challenge to know where
to begin. So the newly created stewardship committee of four individuals
and the Rev. Susan MacAlpine Gillis
turned to Salt & Light, the United
Church’s congregational giving program. Using the program and the stewardship toolkit website
( stewardshiptoolkit.ca), we developed a successful five-week
giving project that ran between Thanksgiving and Advent.
The program helped address our financial needs, and taught
us what good stewardship really means. The Sunday School
and youth ministries also used the toolkit.
The Salt & Light material (available on stewarshiptoolkit.
ca) allowed us to tailor a program to our needs and not spend
time and money developing our own materials. We set up a
display area in the church for “Why I Give” posters, handouts
on Mission & Service, and information on pre-authorized
remittance (PAR) from the stewardship toolkit website.
Committee members were available before and after service
to answer questions.
We also asked members to share their personal stories about
why they give their time, talent, and treasure as well as why
they use PAR, and why they give to Mission & Service. These
stories were a powerful way to inspire others to give. We said
“thank you” as often as we could and had a lunch to celebrate
the congregation at the end of the program.
By the end of 2016, there was a 20 percent increase in dona-
tion pledges for 2017, including both local and Mission &
Service. We also gained nine new PAR givers, increasing the
total number to 56 percent of our regular givers. In addition,
through worship services, phone calls from the stewardship
committee, and mailings, the majority of our congregation
learned about our stewardship efforts, and 20 people signed
up as new volunteers in various programs and ministries.
The return rate for pledges was just shy of 50 percent. Overall,
it was a great first attempt.
The stewardship committee conducted an evaluation of
the program that gave us helpful feedback. Here are a few
steps we have taken as a result that we recommend to other
• Regularly update the congregation about the status of
pledges and the budget.
• Highlight and celebrate a program or ministry each
month during a Sunday service.
• Include a Minute for Mission excerpt in your weekly
emails to congregants.
We can’t wait to begin planning our next campaign using
the We Sing Thanksgiving congregational giving program
Ruth Fox is Chair of the Stewardship Committee at St.
Starting from scratch
Using the Salt & Light 2016 giving program
to grow generosity stewardship By Ruth Fox
St. John's United Church Stewardship Committee for 2016. Left to right: Bruce
Walker, Ruth Fox, Sue MacLean, and Wendall Brown.