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A New Sense of Ownership at Providence Gum Spring

people walk on wooded trail

Built in 1747, Providence Church in Gum Spring is the oldest Presbyterian church in continual use in Virginia. The church is rare in another way: the 60-member congregation operates on weekly offerings instead of an annual stewardship campaign.

Historically, skilled church members handled building maintenance and repair needs. As their numbers declined, church leaders recognized they would need to pay for those services in the future.

After several expenses dipped deeply into the church bank account, the session invited Deborah Rexrode, POJ's associate of stewardship, to meet with them. She helped them to envision the possibility of a capital campaign to establish a legacy fund for future building needs and mission projects. Pastor Karen Witt and the session were inspired by this idea.

A year of conversations developed into a home-grown capital campaign that encouraged members to share financial gifts as well as gifts of time and services.

The effort raised $55,000 for the legacy fund. Other contributions included painting and carpeting the sanctuary, laying a new sidewalk, and cutting brush to create a nature trail around the property.

Beyond the tangible benefits, the campaign increased morale in the small church.

“Everyone has been amazed by the level of giving,” shared Witt.

“The campaign has given our members a larger sense of purpose and ownership in the church. And the excitement continues, especially related to our new trail. We are still imagining the possibilities.”

people walk on wooded trail

Members of Providence Church Gum Spring enjoy a new nature trail around the church property.

Coordinating a Capital Campaign at Your Church

Presbytery of the James is unique in having a full-time associate for Stewardship to work with congregations of any size, serve as a resource, and provide suggestions for steps in the process. To explore a capital campaign at your church, contact Deborah Rexrode by email or by calling 804-262-2074.

Deborah Rexrode

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of the Vine. Find this issue and others online.