Dear Church Family,

I participated in my first mission trip when I was 16. Before we travelled to San Francisco to spend a week building houses and serving food in the roughest part of the city, we were told we would be sleeping in a church hall. I was naive, privileged, and indignant. We were travelling across the country to help, and they couldn’t offer us a bed? It had never occurred to me, and it didn’t hit home until midway through our mission trip, that the people we were helping couldn’t offer us a bed. We were there to serve and to build new hope because we had the time, talent, and treasure to do so.

The people I served then had dreams that they couldn’t bring to fruition because they didn’t have the resources. I have watched our church dream of becoming more for years. Sometimes we succeed with outside help. Open Kitchen and the Food Box Program are incredibly successful, and substantially funded by donations from outside our church. Fixing the breezeway and updating the kitchen in Galley Hall are massive improvements: possible because of large donations from individuals or families. General church maintenance, living-wage salaries for our staff, and utility bills are paid through church members’ pledges. We are falling short. We have been falling short for years. Our Finance Team works diligently to figure out how to cover our costs, but often the answer is to dip into savings.

Meanwhile, we dream. Committees make plans to “build the beloved community.” We think of ways we can reach out to our neighbors in downtown Redmond. We consider how we can put our building to greater use for the community at large. And then, we realize that we can’t pay for staff to run outreach. There’s no extra in the budget to install a ventilation system that would make our building safer for the community. As the leader of the Stewardship Team, a member of Council, and a frequent attendee of Finance meetings, I can tell you, it is disheartening to watch our church dream and realize we have the time and talent, but not the collective treasure to make dreams come true.

I don’t want to talk about financial realities. I’d much rather write a letter about the good that we do in the community. And I could. We do so much to feed the poor, house the homeless, and comfort refugees. But our missions cannot exist without the basics. We must adequately maintain a building where we can cook for many or lay out cots on winter nights, and we must pay our staff members who oversee that building and enrich our spiritual lives.

So, here is what we need to cover our costs for 2023: $300,000 in pledged giving. If we have 50 families pledge, that comes to $6,000 per family. I won’t ask for everyone to fill out the enclosed pledge card with this amount; for some it is unrealistic and others it is below our means. Instead, I will ask you to join me in prayer. The prayer that sustains me through challenges is “God grant me knowledge of your will and the power to carry it out.” I will ask God for direction in my financial life and how I can best serve my church family, and then I will fill out the enclosed pledge card and return it to RUMC by November 13th. For the computer-inclined, you can submit a pledge card online by clicking the button below.

Let us build a house where love can dwell. Together. In Christ.

Amanda Karim,

Stewardship Team Chair