This unpredicted pandemic is also causing unprecedented economic upheaval for many in our community. We have many new guests at the Food Pantry each week, an indicator that our community is indeed being affected by job losses and hardship. But you may not know that in our Redeemer community there is a little-known fund to help parish members, the Rector’s Discretionary Fund. If you or someone you know in our parish community needs a helping hand, please don’t hesitate to reach out. The Discretionary Fund is for you.
The Rector’s Discretionary fund exists at every Episcopal Church, and is a time-worn custom. Our official church canons say, in their old-fashioned language: “The Alms and Contributions, not otherwise specifically designated, at the Administration of the Holy Communion on one Sunday in each calendar month, and other offerings for the poor, shall be deposited with the Rector or Priest-in-Charge or with such Church officer as the Rector or Priest-in-Charge shall appoint to be applied to such pious and charitable uses as the Rector or Priest-in-Charge shall determine.”
Today, this means that the vestry puts a certain amount of money in the fund each year. Then, as Rector, I’m able to use that money to help parish members. In the past, it has aided those who need a little helping hand with a heating bill, medical bill, or scholarships to the Barbara Harris Camp or for EfM tuition. The Discretionary Fund is limited to only “pious and charitable” uses so can’t be used to, say, buy office equipment for the church or pay for church programming. It can only go to those in need, and is intended primarily for those who are church members.
In addition to the parish contribution, I also from time to time receive honoraria for doing funerals or weddings for non-parish members. I donate these to the Discretionary Fund as well (keeping them means I have to figure out how to pay taxes on them, so it’s a win-win!). Often parishioners make a donation to the Discretionary Fund at Christmas or other times as well. Donations are always welcome.
However, because many of these donations are quite generous, and the ways to spend the funds are fairly limited, in recent years there have been more funds coming in than going out from the Discretionary Fund. So I want to let everyone know about it, so it can see some more use, particularly during this difficult time.
If the Discretionary Fund can be useful to you, please let me know. That’s what it’s there for – it exists to help you if you have a need. Please keep it in mind as a resource in the coming months. The Redeemer community is here to help each other.