December 10, 2020
2020 Financial Update #1: Year-End Generosity
As we celebrate Christ’s incarnation this Advent season, remembering God’s generosity to us (John 3:16), I’d like to highlight several items as we consider our own end-of-year generosity: current need, thankful provision, and stewardship opportunities.
With three weeks remaining in our 2020 fiscal year, you have contributed $8,054,307 through December 6 toward our $10,400,000 congregationally-approved “Fill These Cities: 25 x ’25” operating budget. Like many churches and non-profit ministries, Bethlehem often receives a disproportionate amount of needed gifts in the last fiscal month—and often the last week—of the year, but whether due to COVID-19 or other factors, this year our current gap is larger than usual. Staff has been frugal to keep 2020 expenses down (currently projected to be around $10M), so our current end-of-year contribution need is approximately $2M.
As highlighted in the April 23 email “Bethlehem and the CARES Act Payroll Protection Program” sent to all members and regular attenders, Bethlehem applied for and received a forgivable bank loan through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act that allowed small businesses—including churches and non-profits—to receive a forgivable Small Business Administration loan through a local bank to help cover the cost of payroll, utilities, and mortgage interest. We thank God that Bethlehem recently received official notification that 100% of our loan was fully forgiven—which means we received $1M that allowed us to keep our church staff fully employed and engaged in ministry this entire year, as well as $300K that helped keep Campus Outreach staff ministering to college students. Pending final elder approval on the use of these funds in early January, this could reduce our current 2020 financial need to meet expenses from $2M to $1M.
One way we can all be good stewards of the resources God entrusts to us is to be aware of tax laws that encourage generosity. This includes several one-time incentives introduced in 2020 as part of the CARES Act that helped address financial challenges associated with the global COVID-19 pandemic. For those who itemize their taxes, you can offset up to 100% of your income in 2020 with charitable contributions. And for those who don’t itemize and take the standard deduction, expansion of certain tax deductions for 2020 includes a new “above-the-line” deduction of up to $300 for cash donations to charity. Please consult your tax advisor regarding your situation and how you may best be able to take advantage of these incentives.
One last encouragement toward end-of-year generosity: Last December, your contributions covered all 2019 ministry expenses, and provided $100K in additional funding so that we did not have to deplete our entire building reserve fund when we replaced the 30-year old Downtown Sanctuary HVAC system and Commons roof. We now face a similar ‘large ticket” challenge to replace a leaky North Campus roof that is more than 20 years old. Please join me in praying that our end-of year generosity will provide for both 2020 ministry expenses and the remaining funds needed to replace the North Campus roof next Spring. If additional gifts are given, we also hope to make building refreshes to the Downtown Campus, as well as add seats to the South Campus Sanctuary balcony.
- Use the Bethlehem Online Giving portal to set up one-time or recurring giving via e-check or credit card. You can also view your giving history, recurring giving schedule, and Contribution Statement.
- If you have questions about contribution options, including donations of stock or yearly “Required Minimum Distributions” (RMD) from an IRA account, contact Bethlehem’s Financial Secretary, Steve Walmsley (612-338-7653 x463).
Thank you so much for your generosity so far in 2020 to support Bethlehem’s “mutual fund” of ministries. As Pastor Jason Meyer has highlighted, “Bethlehem is the best mutual fund around because we can robustly say ‘yes’ to investing in so many Kingdom ministries at this church: missions advancement, church planting, the joy of the next generation, mercy ministry to the poorest of the poor, the spread of the gospel and sound theology throughout the Twin Cities.”
As God grants guilt-free joy in year-end generosity, please join in praying for—and investing in—Bethlehem ministry.