UPDATE from The Generosity Committee
As many recall, the Generosity Committee has been assisting the congregation as all of us at Prince of Peace discern the best use of the estate gift of Rose Diestler. It has been two years and a few months since Rose passed from us to join the church triumphant. Our upcoming semi-annual meeting marks one year nearly to the day that the congregation passed a motion to put Rose’s home up for sale. And it was on March 1 of this year, just a bit less than four months ago, that PoP members gathered in person to approve a high-level plan which the Generosity Committee has been carrying out.
Here’s an update on the congregation’s plan:
- $76,205 (10% of the gift value) was gifted as a tithe, split evenly between Lutheran Disaster Response and Keystone Community Services. Checks to both organizations were distributed in late March.
- $200,000 was set aside to be placed in our church’s Enduring Gifts Fund based on a 4-to-1 match. Every dollar a member donates to the Enduring Gifts fund is matched with four dollars from Rose’s gift. Raising an additional $50,000 from our members will make the fund active. We have already raised $7,200 towards our goal.
- $485,850 was set aside for congregational discernment in 2020. Of this amount, the Congregation Council voted to disburse $15,000 for the Love Let Go event that was held in January. 150 Attendees each received $100 cash, were asked to use it as God called them to, and to share their experience. You can find their amazing stories here.
Before PoP knew it would have to cease in-person ministries due to the pandemic, the Generosity Committee met and created a plan to guide the congregation through the next phase of discernment. That plan consisted of issuing a call for proposals from members on how to spend the $470,850 remaining. The committee had a pre-pandemic plan that relied heavily on in-person opportunities for the congregation to meet, learn more about the proposals, and voice their discernment to the committee. Once in-person ministries ceased the committee chose to forge ahead, and a new plan, nearly all online, was carried out.
Proposals were accepted from members and published on the church website. Fifteen proposals were received totaling $1,129,500, more than double the available amount. Each proposal described a worthwhile use of Rose’s gift. An “Idea Pitch-Fest” presentation was held via Zoom on May 31 and in the week following three congregation feedback sessions were held via Zoom. A feedback form was made available on the church website and paper packets of the proposals and a feedback form were mailed to those families known to the church as likely unable to access the online materials.
The committee’s hope was to have sufficient congregational feedback that the committee could confidently bring a package of proposals to the congregation for a vote at the semi-annual meeting. However, several dynamics arose to thwart that hope. First, the congregational input was inadequate. Participation in the feedback sessions was very light and less then 10 feedback forms have been received. Second, the logistics of conducting a congregational vote that would comply with state health guidelines and guidance from the office of the St Paul Area Synod presented such a challenge the committee thought a balloted vote should not be attempted this June. Third, and most importantly, it was obvious several of the proposals could not wait – the organizations our members identified in their proposals needed the money as soon as possible. Thus, another plan was created by the Generosity Committee.
Instead of a congregational vote, the committee chose to recommend a “first round” package of funding totaling $40,000 for the most pressing of the proposals as a series of individual motions the Congregation Council could pass without a vote of the congregation. This allowed proposals with the most immediate needs to be funded while at the same time preserving the vast majority of the $470,850 for continued congregational discernment. This new plan was carried out at the June 9 meeting of the Congregation Council. These organizations will benefit from Rose’s gift:
- H2O for Life: $5,000
- Lutheran Social Service: $5,000
- Camp Wapo: $5,000
- Second Harvest Food Shelf: $5,000
- St Paul Public Schools Raising a Reader program: $5,000
- Soup 4 You! Soup Kitchen: $15,000 (This proposal is now fully funded.)
The Congregation Council also accepted the committee’s recommendation to fund these proposals by transferring available funds that were not part of the Diestler Estate gift:
- Equipment for online worship streaming: $25,000 (from the Mission Launch Fund)
- Robes and Stoles for the Chancel Choir: $2,500 (from the Undesignated Memorial Fund)
In addition, and with the encouragement of the Committee, the Congregation Council formally established the Affordable Housing Team and designated $10,000 from the Mission Launch Fund to provide start-up funding for their project exploration. The full proposal from the Affordable Housing Team is still in consideration by the congregation.
As we stand today, the balance in the Diestler Estate Gift Fund is $430,850. And several member proposals await congregational input, including several that were funded only in part. Please watch for more communication from the Generosity Committee as we design the next phase of our congregation’s discernment.