All families and households in the parish by now should have received a mailing from Bishop Parkes about the 2020 Annual Pastoral Appeal (APA). If you did not receive it, that means you are not registered here at Sacred Heart – or – you have changed addresses and not updated your information with the parish – or – perhaps you are not registered anywhere? Perhaps you are thinking, “That’s OK, I am registered with my parents.” True, that’s OK, unless you are a young professional already living on your own, with your own career. There are registration forms in the back of the church (Or click here). Take one, fill it out, and come visit with us the second and fourth Sunday mornings of the month and complete your registration by visiting our “Parishioner Welcome and Registration” events.
Where was I… oh, yes. “…should have received a mailing from Bishop Parkes about the 2020 Annual Pastoral Appeal (APA).” This annual fund raiser is the means by which the parish raises funds to support the operations, ministry and mission of the diocese. Want to know more? Want to know what is funded? Go to https://www.dosp.org/stewardship/apa/ to see last year’s campaign annual report, APA dollars at work, FAQs, or to make a gift via e-giving.
Each parish annually receives an assessment – not a goal, but the requirement for diocesan support. The APA campaign is simply the means by which this diocese makes its needs known to the people of the parish and collects the needed operating funds. When you contribute to APA 2020 your giving is credited towards fulfillment of the parish assessment.
My first year as pastor our goal was $175,000. I had become pastor mid-way through the year and, as a parish, we were laissez-faire about “campaigning.” At the end of the year, I had to write a check for $100,000 out of offertory to meet our assessment. Ouch. In the following years, as a parish, we would take 2-3 weekends to promote the year’s APA campaign. Even when the assessment continued to grow commensurate with the financial health of the parish, the campaigning made a difference. Even when the assessment increased to $317,000 for 2018, we were able to meet or exceed the target.
For 2019 ($327,615), we chose to dial back the campaign efforts so that the 2 or 3 weekends (typically in February) were spent in dedicated worship moving from Christmas to Lent. I have to say, that as pastor I enjoyed our decision. Fundraising is pretty low on the list of things I like doing…actually, it is not on the list at all. But the experience of the 2019 campaign was challenging to our assumptions. Families and households that donated were down approximately 120 and for the first time in many years, we
were required to write a check to make up the shortfall — $70,000. Ouch.
There are several ways to contribute to help meet the parish assessment for 2020 ($336,345): the envelope and pledge card received in the Bishop’s mailing, online e-giving via the parish or the diocese (see our website under the menu option “Giving”), or using parish envelopes. So, thank you for reading and for your support. Please support the 2020 APA campaign.
What else did I want to chat about…?
One of the challenges of this particular parish is that we are spread out over half of West Central Florida with parishioners in 150 different zip codes. We are also a parish of busy professionals. How do we communicate with the parishioners? U.S. Postal Service? Expensive and we find so many people only check the “mailbox” once a week. There are the usual personal email systems (Outlook, etc.). They work fine, but they are personal such that the ministry group people and communications are “locked up” behind the personal password. There are mass email systems such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp. They also have their advantages, but the communication is one-way. There is not really a means to reply, which makes it hard to communicate within a ministry group. And none of the above has a capability to communicate via text messages which is the most read of all the means of electronic messaging (over 95% of all texts are read).
Over the last year we have been using a new system called Flocknote. As you might imagine by its name, it was conceived and developed with churches and ministries in mind. It provides text messaging, email, and newsletter formats for the pastor, staff, and ministry/group leaders to reach out to the people with whom they need to communicate. And the nice thing is that it is not another app you need to download (although there is one!) Flocknote communicates via your usual and already in-place personal email and text messaging apps.
We have almost all parish ministries signed up and using the system – Faith Formation is leading the way and loves it. But the system is also available for “everyone” and for any configuration of small groups: faith-based, ministry focused, community minded, common interest – however we, as a community, want to organize ourselves.
Think about some of the challenges we face just being in downtown. Come the end of the month we would be able to send out a parish-wide text reminding you of the Gasparilla Distance Classic. Even some of the normal things: We could remind folks that this is the St. Vincent de Paul food donation weekend. We would have the ability to send out last-minute parking notices and updates.
When people are newly registering, we add them into Flocknote. Want to join? It is pretty easy: click here. Only four items to enter and then join the conversation. I will have more to say about our move to this new parish communication tool in the coming weeks, but enough for now.
…anything else? … sure, but it can wait. Besides I think I am out of room and time. God bless and have a great weekend.