Developing Local Spiritual Tools for a Capital Campaign

When Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Worth, TX, decided in 2017 to launch a capital campaign to replace its aging HVAC system renovate its dated kitchen and restrooms, it organized to implement the many traditional elements of a church capital campaign, ably guided by the Rev. Mike Chalk from Episcopal Church Foundation. Parishioners prayed, engaged a professional consultant, organized events and teams, and adopted a theme, “Honoring Our Sacred Space.”

But Trinity’s rector, the Rev. Carlye J. Hughes (now bishop-elect of the Diocese of Newark) also challenged the parishioners to renovate their own spiritual lives as Trinity renovated its well-loved and well-used physical facilities. This rector knew that the complexities of budgeting, contracts, architect drawings, and even paint samples can dominate the planning and execution of a church’s capital campaign.

So Trinity folks got to work in response to this additional charge and developed the following spiritual tools: (1) a locally-grown spiritual meditation workbook and (2) a locally-grown prayer for the capital campaign.

Here is how Trinity did it. You can do it too. Consider adding your own locally-grown tools as a spiritual component of your church’s next capital campaign.

1. Spiritual Workbook: “Honoring Our Sacred Space: A Spirituality Workbook”

In approaching this challenge, Trinity took a cue from its much-beloved tradition of locally-developed Lenten Meditation booklets. For many years, Trinity members have volunteered to write daily meditations based on the Daily Office readings, for each day during each Lenten season. These booklets are made available online and distributed in hard copy. It has been an annual joy to rediscover the deep spirituality of some of our congregants and to get to know them better as we meditate together. So it was no surprise that Trinity, facing an important capital campaign, would adapt this familiar model to create a series of meditations on the spirituality of giving and renovation.

For this project, the spirituality committee selected lay persons as writers, emphasizing the duty and role of the laity to provide funding for the church’s ministry and mission. Included were the co-chairs of the capital campaign, the wardens, campaign committee members, Vestry members, long-time parishioners, and even newcomers. The resulting compilation was a broad banquet of insights into (1) the theology of stewardship, (2) how we can love and honor our buildings without “worshipping” them, and (3) and the needed renovations as an essential part of Trinity’s holy call into the future.

Trinity parishioners also have a history responding to the “spiritual homework” routinely assigned by our former rector as part of her Sunday sermon. So it was no surprise that about 20% of the daily meditations were centered on “workbook”-type questions and assignments designed to guide the readers to examine the doctrine of abundance.

The workbook also offered creative options for readers to take these principles and insights farther, by creative writing and artwork, original prayers and collects, and a deep dive exploration of the campaign’s key words, “renovate” and “honor.”

With little effort, your church too can draw upon its own customs and practices to develop a unique tool that challenges parishioners to grow spiritually as they consider and pray about their response to a local capital campaign.

A copy of the workbook is here.

2. Campaign Prayer

Trinity’s capital campaign also adopted a prayer that was included in the campaign literature, prayed at each service, and encouraged in individual daily prayers. Throughout the term of the campaign, we prayed as one, as we responded generously to the capital campaign as one. The EfM (Education for Ministry) group at Trinity proposed the prayer that was adopted by the campaign committee. The themes of renovation, grace, stewardship, faithfulness, Trinity’s mission statement, and visions of Trinity as a holy “house of peace, safety, renewal, and outreach” echo throughout the prayer.

Almighty God, source of all good gifts, we are grateful for our many blessings that has been bestowed upon us and desire to be faithful stewards of your bounty. Help us to step forward in faith and guide our hearts into generous giving to that Trinity Episcopal Church may remain a house of peace, safety, renewal, and outreach to the Glory of your name. Amen.

Your church can write its own prayer, tailor-made for the scope of your own campaign and its local customs.

Conclusion

Trinity members successfully drew upon Trinity’s own history and customs to focus readers on their spiritual responses to the capital campaign solicitations. More broadly, these efforts sought to guide readers into an increased awareness of the nature of stewardship, the abundance of God’s grace, and the sacred and proper role of money and property in this local chapter of the Kingdom of God. What a great bonus for making a capital campaign pledge!

This piece was written by Kathleen Wells, a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Worth.