By John W. Coleman
Faith UMC in Manheim Township, Lititz, welcomed about a hundred worshipers on a recent Sunday, far above its average of 60. The Rev. Jason Perkowski, pastor, attributes that in part to its expanded facility, enlarged for the community’s use and with the help of the church’s 2013-2016 participation in the Eastern PA Conference’s 2013-2018 Fulfilling Our Covenant Capital Campaign.
The church’s new Fellowship Hall and Education Wing, a 30-year dream that came true two years ago, was designed with the community in mind, as a hub for local events and activities. Welcoming community events there has brought in not only needed rental dollars but also visitors to church worship services.
“We definitely needed more space,” Perkowski said. “We had to set up and tear down the church every time there was wedding or funeral or pancake breakfast.” Now they have six classrooms, a welcome center, fellowship room and a warming kitchen to serve their needs and the community’s as well.
The conveniently located new center has accommodated Bible study, Sunday school and VBS classes, popular community breakfasts with Santa and with the Easter Bunny, Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon group meetings, bridal and baby showers and district and church cluster meetings and events. WellSpan Health will host a day camp there next summer for students with autism spectrum disorders.
“We tried to do capital campaigns before; but we were never able to raise enough to get momentum,” recalled Perkowski, who came to Faith in 2011 and now serves both Faith and Oregon Community UMCs. “So, we took full advantage of the help the conference campaign consulting firm offered to raise nearly $90,000.”
That help included:
- training in how to run a campaign, explain the vision and solicit leadership gifts;
- help with pledge letters to and initial meetings with church members;
- processing and mailing pledge fulfillment, reminder and tax deduction letters; and
- enabling electronic giving to the church’s campaign.
“Just the fulfillment processing alone was a huge help, and it increased pledges,” said Perkowski. “God’s timing was perfect for us. Our success built huge confidence and energy that we needed in this small church. Many didn’t think we could do it. But I kept telling them to have faith. We learned that God is more faithful than we often believe at first.”
Ten percent of their intake, about $9,000, went to support the conference’s efforts to retire its pre-1982 clergy pensions liability, which was the main purpose of its campaign. The conference raised over $3 million in its first successful capital campaign as well.
About $70,000 of Faith UMC’s campaign gifts helped upgrade its sewer line, a crucial need, especially to accommodate the building expansion. And nearly $10,000 was added to saved funds and a conference loan for construction. The church also invested funds in the conference-affiliated Mid-Atlantic UM Foundation, which supported the capital campaign.
Finally, their new campaign knowledge and confidence inspired Faith’s leaders to launch another capital campaign, from 2017 to December 2019, titled Faithfully Forward. They hope to raise $250,000 to help pay off loans used for their $775,000 expansion.