Stewardship has always been a priority for the leader- ship at Fifth Avenue Memorial United in Medicine Hat, Alberta. So two years ago, when the United Church
put together the national congregational giving program
Called to Be the Church, Fifth Avenue was keen to try it.
Having Methodist roots, the leadership team appreciated
the concept of the circuit and saddle bags in the original program. We divided the city into 12 regions with about 20 families in each region. We organized a team of 12 individuals to
oversee each part of the city. Every saddle bag contained a
personal invitation to participate in the campaign and make
a pledge. Families were encouraged to pass the saddle bags
on to others. We tried to be creative and have fun carrying
out the program. There were lunches, coffees, and visits to
each other’s homes, which fostered a sense of community.
This approach was popular so we repeated it in 2016. Last
year, when we used the Salt and Light congregational giving
program, 105 out of 200 pledge forms were returned. In addi-
tion, 40 percent of people who filled out the forms increased
their local giving, and 19 percent increased their giving to
Mission & Service. This translated into $14,678 for local
funding and $6,088 for Mission & Service: a total increase of
$20,766 over 2015. When this is added to the $17,000 increase
in pledges in 2015 it means that over the last two years, Fifth
Avenue Memorial United’s giving has increased by $37,000.
Fifth Avenue is not afraid to tell its story, and narrative
budgeting has greatly helped show people the impact of their
gifts. Some churches are hesitant to come back to people and
ask more than once for a donation. But we have the attitude
that people are called to support their collective ministry and
want to give; that’s why they come to church.
We regularly share our gratitude for peoples’ gifts and
strive to frequently update them on Mission & Service work
and special local projects such as refugee assistance. I would
recommend other churches try using the congregation giving
resources ( stewardshiptoolkit.ca) and the ideas that have
worked for our church.
The Rev. Dave Pollard is the leader minister at Fifth
Avenue Memorial United in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Circuit and saddle bags By Dave Pollard
A sense of fun and community boosts donations.
FIFTH AVENUE MEMORIAL UNITED
CHURCH, MEDICINE HAT, ALBERTA
• Location: urban; downtown Medicine Hat.
• 325 members; mix of young and long-
• In 2016, the people of Fifth Avenue gave
$32,020 to Mission & Service.
Sunday stewardship service with Rev. Dave Pollard
and guest speaker Rev. Sandra Beardsall.
Rev. Dave Pollard at a Sunday camp session held in
Fifth Avenue Memorial.