Dear Members and Friends of PCJH:
It is with great joy that I share with you the news of a gift that has been given to the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole. Pike Sullivan, the husband of one of our members, Susan, died and left PCJH a portion of his estate. The amount is significant, approximately $600,000 this year and a similar amount next year. What a tremendous affirmation of the ministry and mission of this church.
With blessing comes responsibility. Large gifts can be divisive within any organization, especially one as diverse as our church. Such gifts can also undermine the ongoing giving because of the perception that smaller gifts are no longer needed. Because of these realities, your leaders (The Elders together with the Finance and Stewardship Teams) have spent time with each other in prayer and dialogue for discernment how we believe God would have us use this gift. As a result of this process the Elders accepted the following unanimous recommendation of the Finance Team:
The Finance Team of the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole unanimously recommends to the Board of Elders/Trustees that the first installment of the Pike Sullivan bequest of $600,000 be used as follows:
Repayment of Promissory Notes to members of the congregation $450,000 (1)
Repayment of non-interest bearing loan from Christian Foundation 100,000 (2)
Total “Repayment of Debt” 550,000
Matching fund challenge for CY&F vehicle purchase 50,000 (3)
Total Uses for first installment of Sullivan Gift $600,000
Additionally, the intent of the Finance Team is to recommend a tithe of 10% of the overall gift to the Mission/Outreach activities of PCJH.
This wise decision and the discussion that underpins it reflect at least three principles to guide the use of extra-ordinary gifts when given to PCJH (including the 2nd portion of the Sullivan gift).
1. Pay off debt following the scriptural instruction of Romans 13:8 which says:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
Benefit: No “next” capital funds campaign as had been planned;
Save the church about $25,000 a year in interest payments;
Provide a “clean slate” as we define and implement our Long Range Plan;
Prayerfully define ways to “love one another and our fellowman.”
2. Tithe 10% for mission beyond the church following the example of Malachi 3:6-10.
Benefit: Set an example as to how we believe God wants us to steward his money;
Bless our community and the world as God has blessed us.
3. Unless specifically designated, use special gifts to move the ministry and mission of PCJH into the future, not to fund the annual operating budget.
Benefit: Planting the seeds that will grow the ministry and mission of the church.
I pray that you will give thanks with me for this wonderful gift. I also pray that you will see the need to continue to support the general operating budget of this church so that the ministry and mission to which God has called us will touch our congregation, community, and world as we Gather, Grow, and Go.
Serving our Lord with you,
1 PCJH members loaned the congregation money so we might pay off the 6% construction loan to our bank. This action saved PCJH about $70,000 per year in interest payments. Some of the promissory notes have already been paid by pledges/gifts to our facility fund. Others have been forgiven as certain families contributions to the capital campaign. This figure represents the remaining amount of money loaned to PCJH members.
2 A Christian Foundation which believes in the ministry and mission of PCJH loaned us $700,000 in 2007 (at no interest) to assist in the construction of the Christian Education wing, the Dalquist Chapel, and the remodeling of the sanctuary. $200,000 remains to be paid, half this year and half next. This line item reflects this year’s payment.
3 Part of our mission beyond the church and within the community revolves around our Children, Youth and Family programs. We have been made aware that our 15-passenger vans have become illegal within the Wyoming public school districts for transportation of children and youth because of safety reasons (vulnerable to rolling, etc.). Churches, private schools, colleges and universities are exempt from this law. We are choosing to address this safety issue by designating the remaining $50,000 toward the purchase of “safe vehicles” and challenge the congregation to match that amount with extra-commitment gifts.