Dear Friends in Christ:
We write today to send you important financial information for parishes and missions of the Diocese of Oregon; to help you navigate Bishop Michael’s instructions during a time of no regular, in-person corporate worship until April 14th, including Holy Week and Easter, 2020.
Your diocesan leaders and Finance Committee are meeting regularly, in virtual form, to provide leadership and suggestions to help all in the diocese in these times. Below, we provide specific ideas and recommendations, as many of our congregations may suffer financially without “normal” pledge income and Easter plate income. We realize that many of you may already be implementing some of these suggestions; however, we feel it is important to communicate with all of you at this time to ensure we are providing the best care and information possible. You all are in our prayers.
1—Send an Easter Message by regular mail to all congregants of record, with your specific appeal, which includes return envelopes to give by check. Provide, as possible, dispersed church services and/or invite your parishioners to partake of the various online services created by other congregations or by the diocese as a whole.
2—Encourage those who pledge to accelerate their monthly giving into lump sum gifts which represent March, April and perhaps May regular pledging. If you have issued giving envelopes remind congregants to use them.
3—Make pastoral outreach calls to parishioners to personalize your message of hope and financial need.
4—Establish or enhance electronic/online giving. Congregation members can go online or call their banks to set up recurring payments to your church by direct transfer [ACH] or bank-issued automatic checks. Non-bank payment processing services most widely used are PayPal and Vanco Payment Solutions [links below]. Please be aware both services charge between 2%-3% per transaction. There are “digital wallet” and other “EGiving” solutions available, but these have varying fee structures and are not as long established and secure as PayPal or Vanco.
For churches that do not already have online giving set up through PayPal, Vanco, or another method, the diocese is glad to offer an online giving platform for congregations from now through June 15, 2020. We have created a form on our website where individuals can make donations. These donations will be initially deposited to the diocesan PayPal account, which charges a credit/debit card processing fee of 2.2%+0.30 per donation. The remaining funds will then be processed by diocesan staff and forwarded to the churches. The diocese does not charge any fees for this service. The form link is available below and can be shared on websites, in emails and newsletters, and through social media. Churches interested in using this method should contact Heidi Pitts (firstname.lastname@example.org; 971-204-4108) if they would like assistance in adding this link to their websites.
Congregational Online Giving Form: https://www.diocese-oregon.org/resources/congregational-resources/congregational-online-giving/
Whatever method you may use, communicate often and by all means available, using social media, email messaging, texts and phone calls.
5. Some of our congregations may be eligible for a waiver of up to two months of clergy pension payments. Please find the client letter sent our recently by the Pension Fund and see if you qualify. If you believe you may qualify, be in touch with Carter Hawley at Carterh@diocese-oregon.org to apply through the Office of the Bishop.
Should your parish or mission be significantly impacted financially by the suspension of worship services and not have funds available to pay staff or cover regular monthly expenses, we would like to know of this issue and we pledge to do what we can to assist. You are invited to contact Canon Neysa Ellgren Shepley at email@example.com immediately to discuss your specific situation.
As your Bishop and the Treasurer of the Diocese we both pledge to walk with the various congregations of the diocese throughout this current national, and indeed worldwide, crisis. The Board of Trustees and Diocesan Council are discerning possible support options and a process to assist. You are not alone – we are in this together and together we will thrive. We will communicate promptly as decisions are made.
The Rt. Rev. Michael Hanley, Bishop of Oregon
Mr. Rick Grimshaw, Treasurer, Episcopal Diocese of Oregon