Dec 18, 2013

Denny Emrick and Matthew Henderson

“We’re so close!”

The Rev. Denny Emrick voiced almost breathless anticipation when asked about the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s Financial Stewardship Capital Campaign. He held his hands forward as though ready to grasp something within reach.

“We’re right at the brink. Now I know how Jeremiah felt when he bought that field (Jeremiah 32). He was so sure of God’s promises.”

Emrick is elated and hopeful about the campaign, titled Fulfilling Our Covenant, because pledges have almost reached the $3 million goal.

The campaign, approved by the Annual Conference in 2012, is intended to help pay off the pre-1982 Retired Clergy Pension before the 2021 deadline, while stabilizing the payments required annually from local churches. The pension obligation is a sacred commitment to retired clergy who sacrificed to serve churches in ministry. Additional payments on the debt have come from conference spending cutbacks and proceeds from the sale of non-urban church properties.

Emrick, a retired supply pastor serving Mount Carmel UMC in St. Peter’s, is also a former fundraising consultant. He has been involved in the campaign since it began, assisting Kirby-Smith Associates in the feasibility study and CCS in planning, promotion and implementation.

Now his role is to answer questions and advise congregations on their pledge fulfillment efforts over the next three years.

“Part of my job is to help churches remove roadblocks to giving,” he explained. “I’m taking the hand-off from CCS after they worked so hard to raise the pledges.”

CCS staff consultant Matt Harrigan and Meg Strunk met with nearly every EPA church, either individually or in groups, working up to 12-hour days, to address their concerns and discuss the four fundraising plan choices, a unique campaign feature for this conference. Harrigan continued working with church and conference leaders until Thanksgiving, before traveling to Cleveland, Ohio, to begin his next campaign.

CCS will continue to assist Emrick as he helps congregations fulfill their pledges. Meanwhile churches can pay on their pledges to Letter Concepts, an independent donor participation management firm providing pledge remittance services.

Why has the pledge campaign been so successful when most previous campaigns have not, according to Emrick? He sees four likely reasons:

  • The thorough feasibility study and extensive outreach to church leaders to hear their concerns and enlist their support.
  • The relatively modest amounts asked of churches, based on the size of their budgets. “People expected a large burden, but were often surprised that the asking seemed so doable.”
  • The unique range of options offered where churches could choose from four fundraising plans with varying levels of commitment and support.
  • The incentive in two of the plans that offers participating churches a percentage share of what they raise on average over four years for their own capital fundraising needs.

For more information, to make individual pledges or to get help with your campaign, 
visit the campaign Web site,, or contact Denny Emrick at or 484-366-1373 (O).

To pay or adjust your campaign pledges or select your choice of Plan 1, 2, 3 or 4, contact Karen Timberlake of Letter Concepts at 800-525-4963.