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FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, UCC, OF HOLLISTON, MA

Seismic Shift in an Annual Pledge Campaign!

In the spring of 2013, lay leader Judson DeCew and Pastor Rev. Bonnie Steinroeder approached Peter Heinrichs and Full Harvest Fundraising with a great question: How does a growing church get past its fundraising “plateau” to add the significant costs of a three-quarter time Associate Pastor?

How were we involved?

Meeting over the spring and summer with a team of church leaders and key volunteers, Peter and his partner, Susan Lewis, suggested a Strategic Inquiry with a cross-section of households in the Church. The Strategic Inquiry would assess:

Over the summer, the Strategic Inquiry team at First Church, working with Peter and Susan, prepared a multi-faceted plan to communicate the value of a Strategic Inquiry with the congregation. Rev. Steinroeder shared with the congregation her vision of an expanded role for pastoral ministry in sermon and in a YouTube video.

In August and September, Peter and Susan interviewed 47 individuals and couples in person. Their report, presented first to the Strategic Inquiry team and then to the full congregation on Sunday, September 18, proposed that, with the full inclusion of the congregation in the decision process to call an Associate Pastor, First Church could, in fact, raise as much as an additional $50,000 toward the Church’s budget in 2014.

What was the outcome?

In October, 2013, the congregation voted unanimously to proceed with a search for an Associate Pastor, subject to a successful fall Annual Pledge Drive. And in November, shortly after Thanksgiving – the earliest date for completing the campaign in memory! – First Church’s Stewardship Team announced that a new s-t-r-e-t-c-h goal of adding $50,000 to the annual pledge drive had been reached!

Jack Ryan, chair of the Strategic Inquiry team and of First Church’s Stewardship drive recently wrote: "Peter and Susan brought us three critical gifts as we confronted the seemingly impossible challenge of making a quantum change in the level of our Church's annual giving: an understanding of the importance of framing a purpose, a methodology for bringing visibility to the purpose, and – most importantly - the confidence to succeed. We made the quantum change. Our Church has a new future. We owe that to Peter and Susan.

More Harvest Stories coming soon!