Dear Parishioners of Ascension Cathedral,
I believe you will be interested to learn that the Cathedral incurs over $1,200 in expenses per steward per year to fulfill its core mission in the community: proclaiming and teaching the Gospel in accordance with the Orthodox Faith; sanctifying the faithful through God’s grace in worship, the Divine Liturgy and the other sacraments; enhancing its parishioners’ spiritual life; adding to the numbers of the faithful through instruction, baptism and chrismation; and establishing educational and philanthropic activities consistent with the Faith and ethos of the Church. The $1,200 per steward is spent in the following areas:
- $267 for clergy
- $260 for cleaning and maintenance of the buildings and grounds (not including cleaning associated with rental of the facilities)
- $169 for our contribution to the Archdiocese
- $143 for ministries such as Greek school, choir director and chanter, youth director, GOYA/JOY and social services
- $103 for office staff
- $88 for insurance and audit and bank fees
- $83 for communication, including postage, printing, telephone, computers and website.
- $75 for utilities
- and $24 for vehicles.
The $1,200 figure does not include any expenses associated with other activities at the Cathedral, such as rental of the facilities or social events (which are fully covered by fees anyway), nor does it include any of the expenses for construction of the chapel or payment of the mortgage. Only 50% of the office staff and utilities expenses are included in this amount on the assumption that the other 50% is derived from facilities rental. The per-steward quantities are based on 746 stewards, which is the number who gave at least $1 to Ascension Cathedral in 2009. Couples pledging together are counted as one in this calculation.
While the Cathedral’s mission-derived expenses are over $1,200 per steward, half of the stewards are giving less than $320 per year, and 90% of the stewards are giving less than the Church is spending to serve them.
I have sometimes been asked why the Church does not do more to help the needy in the larger community instead of focusing primarily on the sacramental needs of its parishioners. The above information provides the answer: since most parishioners are giving far less than the expenses incurred in meeting their own sacramental needs, there is very little left over to provide for the material needs of others.
Giving is an important part of the Orthodox way of life. If you are looking for a guideline on how much to give, there are basically two guidelines to consider. The first is to strive to give at least $1,200 per year to provide for your own sacramental needs, which works out to $100 per month or about $23 per week. The second is to strive to give at least 10% of your gross income as stewardship, which is the amount recommended by the Archdiocese. Striving to give at least 10% is a form of therapy for our souls in addition to a way of advancing the mission of the Church; it’s not likely to be easy or comfortable at all times, but it helps us become more receptive to God’s action in our lives so that we can live life more fully and richly.
Of course, giving is by no means the only important part of the Orthodox way of life. If you want to learn more about the Orthodox way, come to Church regularly, listen to the sermons, visit our website at www.groca.org, visit our bookstore, and, most importantly, talk to other people at Church about it, especially Fr. Tom and Fr. Nebojsa.
Whatever the form and whatever the amount, please know that your support makes a big difference to Ascension Cathedral, and I and many others are very grateful for it. The people I’ve met and all that I’ve received through the Cathedral have had a wonderful effect on my life, and I hope that you are getting a chance to experience that as well.
VP of Stewardship, Ascension Cathedral