Pastor's Top 10: February 2024

Monthly Updates & Need-to-Knows from Pastor Michelle

1)  SUNDAY  |  Make Yours & Your Family's Faith a Priority

Sunday, February 4, 10am at Hayfield Secondary School
Join us this Sunday, February 4, 2024 for 10am worship at Hayfield Secondary School (Door 9) as we begin to wrap up our This Little Light of Mine sermon series. Children's care and Sunday Christian education is offered for all kids 0-6th grade during worship. 

One Sunday a month (usually on 1st Sundays), our kids gather from 12-1pm for elementary-aged fellowship, and our youth gather from 6-7:30pm to share a meal and engage in hands-on service. Email to get your student connected.

Check the Kingstowne App, under the "Children and Youth" tab (recommended!), or the Kids This Week or Kids Last Week pages on our website) for this week's nursery, children, and youth activities; this month's family activities; upcoming events and more. Use these fun and accessible resources if you miss a Sunday or to dig deeper and re-enforce as a family at home. 

These resources are password protected for copyright reasons. Use password: KCkids.

2)  THANKS  |  Honoring Volunteers & Donors Next Sunday

Sunday, February 11, 10am-12pm at Bowl America Shirley
Next Sunday, the last Sunday before Lent, we're moving worship to Bowl America Shirley as a thank you to all our faithful volunteers and generous financial donors who make the mission and ministry of Kingstowne possible. We'll start with an acoustic song all together, brief morning prayer, and some words of gratitude, and then spend the rest of the time bowling, enjoying a continental breakfast buffet on Kingstowne, and just having fun together. Children are welcome. Advance RSVP is required by this Sunday, February 4.

3)  FINANCE UPDATE | Finalizing 2023 & Starting 2024 Strong

Friends, thank you. Thank you for helping us finish out 2023 stronger than any other year in our ministry to-date. With churches everywhere in decline, with budget deficits and difficult decisions to make, your incredible investment in our church made it possible for us to:

  • Finish the year fully in the black, without having to touch our reserve at all, for the very first time since becoming independent from Aldersgate United Methodist Church in 2021.
  • Finally cross that $200,000 budget threshold (~$205,000), which has always been, by church industry standards, the minimum necessary to move past just year-to-year sustainability and into a solid footing for the future longevity and vitality of a church.
Because of your 2024 financial commitments to our church, we're excited to announce that we're only about $5,000 shy of our 2024 goal for advanced pledged giving for 2024. Throughout our October Lacking Nothing Stewardship Campaign, we mentioned that our proposed 2024 budget, which included a generous and long-overdue 18% increase in pastoral salary, would require $210,900 in congregational giving to make it possible, with $188,000 in advance pledges, used to help us anticipate and approve a reasonable 2024 budget. View here our progress and consider making your pledge if you haven't yet.
Sheryl Williams, our Finance Chair, attended a webinar in the fall of 2023 entitled "Four Predictions for Church Finances in 2024" led by financial experts in the field. I thought her take-aways were quite telling and wanted to share the gist of them with you:

1) The generational hand-off will accelerate.
  • Millennials are the largest adult living generation in the US, and church attendance of Millennials increased from 17% to 39% in 2022.
  • Gen Z have the lowest religious affiliation, but are 2x more likely to express a personal interest in Christianity than older Christians.
  • $68 trillion will be inherited my Millennials this decade, and it's not clear yet whether the church-going ones will ever even consider charitable giving as a priority of that financial legacy.
  • 48% of Millennials and 61% of Gen Z are looking to increase the amount they give to causes.
2) Digital culture will deepen its roots.
  • 60% of churched adults want digital means of gathering together.
  • 44% of Gen Z have never written a check.
  • 80% of Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen X use digital payout apps.
  • Across all churches using Subsplash Giving, 78% of digital giving happens outside of Sundays.
  • While the pastor's lowest priority in 2019 was technology; the pastor's #1 priority in 2022 must be keeping up with technology.
3) Donors will grow in generosity towards organizations they can trust.
4) Generosity will become more widely understand as an essential part of discipleship.

Donor Advised Funds (DAF)
A donor-advised fund (DAF) is an account where you can deposit assets for donation to charity over time. A sponsoring organization manages the account, and the donor recommends how to invest the assets and where to donate them. The donor can also claim a tax deduction for making contributions to the fund. Read more about DAFs in this article from Nerd Wallet and on this page of the IRS website.

IRA Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD)
A qualified charitable distribution (QCD) is an individual retirement account (IRA) withdrawal that goes directly to charity and is excluded from taxable income. People 70½ and over can make qualified charitable distributions. QCDs can help people 73 and over comply with required minimum distribution (RMD) rules. Read more about QCDs in this article from Nerd Wallet and on this page of the IRS website.

Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Charitable Giving
Each fall, the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) enables Federal employees and retirees to support people and communities in need across the country and around the world through payroll deduction for a greater impact over time. The Kingstowne Communion has recently submitted our application to be listed as one of the qualifying charitable organizations, and we're awaiting approval in time for fall 2024 employee elections. We'll be in touch when we're approved, but you can learn more now about CFCs on their website.

4)  GET THE APP | Training, Groups, Giving, Watching, Events & more

This Sunday, February 4, we will do a brief training on the new Kingstowne app and help those who have had trouble with the app in any way after service. Make sure to 1) download the app and then 2) sign-in with your email visible so that you can join private connection, volunteer, and discussion groups with our church. We're so excited about the possibilities of this new platform!


Stay connected!

Download Our App

5)  FAT TUESDAY | Pancakes & Wings Benefit for Rising Hope

Tuesday, February 13, 5-8pm at Chalkboard Wings & BBQ
Join us for a Fat Tuesday night of pancakes, wings, and Mardi Gras fun for a good cause at Chalkboard Wings & BBQ before the season of Lent officially begins the next day. 20% of food and beverage sales from orders placed between 5pm and 8pm (including to-go orders) goes straight toward Rising Hope Mission, supporting families living in poverty along the Rt. 1 corridor; and the Kingstowne Communion will match whatever is raised through food and beverage purchases! There will also be a Pancake toppings bar, provided by the Kingstowne Communion, for an additional suggested donation of $5.00 (every dollar additionally supporting Rising Hope Mission).  Advanced reservations suggested for one of three seatings.

6)  ASH WEDNESDAY | Two Meaningful Options

Wednesday, February 14, 2024, 7am-1pm at La Madeleine & 6:30-8:30 at Hope UCC
We take ashes to the coffee shop as a reminder of our common brokenness and our common need for humility, healing, and God's grace, meeting us not just in worship but in our every day lives in community.  Come receive ashes and participate in a brief prayer, children's Ash Wednesday activity, and Ash Wednesday-Valentine making in the private room at La Madeleine Kingstowne; and enjoy a warm beverage on us!  Stay and socialize after or just drop in on your way to or from work/school. Pastor Michelle will be administering ashes from 7am to 1pm.  

Join the Kingstowne Communion and Hope United Church of Christ for a shared meal and collaborative Ash Wednesday worship service, Wednesday, February 14 at Hope UCC.   Gather at 6:30pm for a shared potluck-style meal of soup, salad, and bread (check back for sign-up), followed by a collaborative worship service at with Hope UCC, at Hope UCC.  Come be reminded that you are dust and to dust you will return as we begin to walk with Jesus toward the cross and empty tomb. Children are welcome. All are welcome.

7)  LENT 2024 | Wandering Heart: Figuring Out Faith with Peter

This Lent, zoom in with us on the life and faith of one of Jesus' most famous disciples. In Peter, we see a person who is both steadfast and unsteady, both a dear friend and a betrayer, both a follower and a wanderer. Basically, in Peter, we see ourselves.

Follow Peter's journey with us, watching the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus unfold through this most human of humans; and figure out faith this Lent, affirming it not as constance of steadfast pursuit, but rather something that ebbs and flows, full of missteps, mistakes, and keep-goings, something always searching, longing, loving, and ever-tuning our wandering hearts to sing God's grace.

This series will also include:
  • Printed devotional materials for the whole family that will be available to pick up at our two Ash Wednesday worship opportunities.
  • A special Lenten Daily Devotion Group in the app that you can opt-in to join
  • Weekly video and audio devotions with Pastor Michelle as we work our way together through the Wandering Heart devotion together that will be offered in print but can also be accessed virtually here.

8)  SERVICE & JUSTICE | Affordable Housing, Equitable Wages & Black History Month

Throughout the season of Lent, we're going to place our Lenten emphasis of service and justice to our community on that of affordable housing and equitable wages in two main ways that Pastor Michelle will share more about in the days to come:

  • Advocating for the Franconia Governmental Building to be turned into affordable workforce housing, beginning with a town hall on February 7 and moving toward Fairfax County's deferred date of decision on this property, scheduled for March 4.

  • Alms-Giving toward Provision Church's housing-insecure employees who are helping gather unsheltered people in community and cafe around our area, with a 40-day challenge to increase their salary from $600 a month to $1,000 a month. All it would take is 100 people giving $1 a day, every day during Lent, to ensure these crucial staff members are better take care of as they transition toward security and wholeness in their own lives as well. 

  • Immersing ourselves in Black History this Black History Month through multiple to-be-announced church events that will help us reflect on the history and contributions and the Black community. Educating ourselves and honoring the Black legacy is the best way we, a predominately Anglo congregation can work toward justice for all. 

Read here Pastor Michelle's recent testimony in support of workforce affordable housing at the Fairfax County Public Hearing on January 23.

9)  HOLY WEEK(S) | Experience the Life, Death & Resurrection of Jesus

  • Saturday, March 16 | Neighborhood Holy Week-End for Families, Travelers & Saints of All Ages |  Register Now!
  • Sunday, March 17 | St. Patrick's Day Celebration with Lunch, Palms & Egg Hunt 

  • Sunday, March 24 | Palm/Passion Sunday at Hayfield 
  • Thursday, March 28 | Holy Thursday in Three Movements with Wesley UMC & Rising Hope 
  • Friday, March 29 | Good Friday Stations of Cross at Franconia Government Center 
  • Sunday, March 31 | Easter Sunrise & Family Worship at Nalls Produce 

10)  WOMEN'S OVERNIGHT RETREAT  |  Register by February 29

Friday-Sunday, April 5-7, 2024, Delaphane, VA
Refresh. Replenish. Reconnect. Join us for a local (1 hr away), overnight women's retreat at a house in Delaphane, VA, beginning with dinner Friday evening, April 5 and concluding with 10am closing communion together Sunday, April 7, before we depart the retreat home by 11am. (There is no in-person Sunday worship at Kingstowne: Sunday-after-Easter Sabbath Sunday.) 

Retreat with us through table fellowship, faith-sharing, spiritual practices, friendship, relaxation, and pampering. Prices range between a $100 daily to $240 king double-occupancy overnight and include all food, accommodations, and more.

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