Clergy and church leaders can recognize when their congregants are experiencing challenges based on their participation in church. When certain parishioners aren’t showing up as often or giving to the offering, it could mean they are going through some type of hardship. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial stress for many Americans. When a congregation seeks guidance from a leader they trust, here are some tips on spending and saving to offer that may be comforting.
Thanks to a new matching grant from the Ministerial Excellence Fund, stipendiary clergy can receive $300 in matching RSVP funds when they save an additional $25 per month for the full year.
So where will that $25 in savings come from? We all feel like we operate with little or no cash to spare each month. You’d be surprised, though, to see how much you can trim from your budget with just a few simple changes. Like these:
Straight from the American Institute of CPAs, here are the retirement questions you need to ask yourself now.
1. What do I want to do? Are you thinking of downsizing and relocating in retirement? Or maybe you’d love to start your own small business or consulting practice? Is your dream to stay in your family home and pursue the hobbies and travel you’ve never gotten around to? Determining what “retirement” means to you can help you figure out what your financial needs will be.
2. When do I want to do it? Are you planning to quit as soon as you hit retirement age or keep going to 70 or beyond? Does part-time work sound like a good transition? Once again, knowing when and how your financial situation will change is important in your planning.
3. How is my health? Considering current ailments or conditions can help you determine potential medical costs in retirement as well as future plans. If you’re not able to be as active as you once were, for example, you may find it satisfying to get involved in community or volunteer work rather than make plans for world travel. Focusing on preventive care now also has the potential to minimize health care costs later and allow you to better enjoy retirement.
4. How much money will I have? Use online retirement calculators to see how much income you can depend on in retirement and what your needs may be. To get a realistic idea of how much you’ll require, factor in the goals you’ve come up with relating to what you want to do and when, along with possible health care issues and other considerations.
Personal finance advisor Peter Dunn, aka Pete the Planner, says that proper financial planning does not require additional work: It requires timelier work. We all know that procrastination is the enemy of a comfortable retirement.
Start thinking about a realistic retirement savings plan now. And while you’re thinking, look at one of these well-reviewed books on the topic.
If you aren’t wearing a face mask already, you will be. A growing list of states, as well as local governments, are mandating face masks in public. The CDC now says this about the need for cloth face coverings:
Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice…COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of cloth face coverings is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain. (June 28, 2020)
Joseph Fair is a virologist who specializes in the tracking and surveillance of infectious diseases. He currently serves as an Emergency Responder with the International Medical Corps and is a Senior Fellow at the Snowcroft Institute of International Affairs, Texas A&M University. He is also an Episcopalian.
On June 29, Dr. Fair spoke by phone to a group of Episcopal Church leaders. Following is an outline of his presentation.
COVID-19 has led some leaders to imagine the unthinkable. In a panel convened by Ernst and Young, business leaders foresee opportunities for a better world across five dimensions: better health, better connectivity, better relationships, better ingenuity and better accountability.
In this changed and changing world:
On May 14, the Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, 11th Bishop of Indianapolis, gave the commencement address for Virginia Theological Seminary. Here is a portion of her address:
“I deeply believe that we are watching a new church being born. And in this church, as in every age, we need ALL of the gifts. The gifts of teaching, preaching, and tending the sacramental life of the church will continue to provide a firm foundation for community-building and justice-seeking and radical welcoming that is needed now more than ever. But I bid you never forget that this is the work of the whole people of God, lay and ordained,” said Baskerville-Burrows. “As we create the church that will respond to the spiritual and economic sea changes happening all around us, we will be called to be midwives of the sacred, not technicians of the sanctuary.”
How are the children in your parish doing? During these past few weeks, as the school year comes to an end and summer vacation looms, we’ve sensed how their worlds are shifting yet again.
So many young people – toddlers to teens – have missed out on so much. Now with camps closed and activities canceled, we wish that none of them would have to miss the simple pleasures of summer – ball games, swimming pools, craft classes, snow cones. And we worry anew about those who could be facing far-worse circumstances.
By The Rev’d Dr. James B. Lemler
Pathways Parishes Moderator/Chaplain
A time of pandemic and pestilence…that’s what it is at present, as we walk the pathway of faith amongst challenge, anxiety, and dis-equilibrium. Here is a story about such a moment. It possesses all the dynamics of our 2020 time, but it is actually about a similar time and experience almost 400 years ago. In the 1630’s people of faith confronted pandemic, pestilence, and plague. It was true throughout Europe, but this is the story of a specific place and specific people and a specific pastor.
The place was Eilenburg, Saxony (in what is now Germany), and the time, the beginning of the horrific Thirty Years’ War. The people were the good folk of that town and its churches and so many people who entered it — soldiers who came to invade and human beings who were fugitives and refugees from the violence that surrounded them. What accompanied them was plague, pestilence, and a virulent pandemic. Things got worse and worse for the people and for the pastor, Martin Rinkart.
Pastor Rinkart was a faithful pastor and a theological son of the Lutheran tradition. He was confronted by his surroundings and all the sickness in stark ways. He prayed, led, and visited his flock, but the moment called upon him to do so much more: burial upon burial upon burial, sometimes 50 a day. In the worst year, the parish register shows that – as the only pastor still living in the city – he did more than 4,000 burials, including that of his own beloved spouse.
What could Pastor Rinkart do? How could he continue on his pathway of faith and ministry? Where was his strength to be found?
An important part of his spirituality was writing the texts for hymns as a way of expressing what was most solid, enduring, and hopeful in his faith and in his life. So that is what he did. He wrote a hymn. It was a hymn of thanksgiving – of all things – and deep gratitude.