Jun 13, 2023 | Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation

Republished with permission from the Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation newsletter

The Rev. David Woolverton is the lead pastor at St Paul’s UMC in Elizabethtown, PA, and a graduate of the Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation’s Advanced Financial Academy.  Originally, David’s AFA project involved a large capital expansion for the church to create an initiative to attract young parents.  When the church decided that now is not the time for this expansion, David pivoted to a new idea.

His team decided to create another opportunity for their project. For the past six years, St. Paul’s Church had given its entire Christmas Eve Offering to benefit the needs of the Elizabethtown Community. All totaled, in those six years they gave away about $50,000 in Christmas Eve Offerings.  They averaged between $7,000 to $10,000 each year, which is incredibly generous.

In 2022, they decided that they wanted to kick it up a notch… actually, several notches. Church leaders decided to give the entire Christmas Eve offering to two really important programs within the Elizabethtown community.

The first is what’s called, “Camp Ladybug” and it’s a special summer camp for kids with physical or mental challenges. The second is a relatively new crisis intervention – mental health program for students within the Elizabethtown Area school district, sponsored by the Elizabethtown Community Housing and Outreach Services (or ECHOS).

The needs were great. Camp Ladybug needs about $14,000 to hold its camp in the summer of 2023. ECHOS needs $43,000. Appealing to what AFA taught about principles of fundraising of “head, heart, and hand,” they developed a strategy to address the four different types of givers within the church and community – the impulsive, habitual, thoughtful, and careful donors — for having the Christmas Eve Offering take a significant chunk out of each of those needs.

So, they decided to reach higher than ever before with their Christmas ask. They expanded the timeline to include all of Advent, as well as congregational creative fundraising… and they targeted $25,000. They had never done that before.

The results were spectacular! They raised a total of $25,867 and divided it in half, giving half each to Greater Elizabethtown Area Recreation program for their Camp Ladybug and Elizabethtown Community Housing and Outreach Services for their crisis intervention program for students in the Elizabethtown area schools. Each received a check for $12,933.50. They went well above their goal of $25,000. God was so good!