Frequently Asked Questions

 What is the Our Home, Our Future, Our Time Capital Campaign?

On January 28, 2018, the congregation voted to move forward with a Capital Campaign with a fundraising goal of $822,430 (and a “Stretch Goal” of $1.09 million). The purpose of the Campaign is to raise money to restore and maintain our aging facilities, make our home more welcoming and accessible, increase our energy efficiency, and increase our capacity to expand ministry and outreach.

Who is leading the Capital Campaign?  

This Capital Campaign is a collective effort of the entire congregation of the First Congregational Church of Essex Junction (FCCEJ). Go to Committee Contacts to see who is leading the effort. 

How did we arrive at the $822,430 goal?  

The goal was set by the Capital Campaign Steering Committee based on estimated costs for the highest priority projects, plus estimated contingency and project administration expenses. Our fundraising consultants (Full Harvest Fundraising, LLC) have indicated that this goal is reachable for a congregation of our size and overall annual pledge level. If we reach our $822,430 goal, we have identified ten (10) additional renovation and improvement projects that would enhance the life of our church. The estimated cost for these projects, including contingencies, gives us a dream “Stretch Goal” of $1.09 million. A complete list of “Stretch Goal” projects can be found in the Campaign brochure.     

Who do I contact if I have any questions or concerns about the Campaign?

We suggest you contact one of the co-chairs, Kaki McGeary or Dave Johnson, or Reverend Mendes.


How do I make my pledge?

You will be called by a member of the Congregation who will ask to meet with you and discuss the campaign at your home, office or any other place convenient to you. The purpose of the visit is to talk about the Church, our hopes and dreams for the future, the campaign and the importance of a pledge. There is no pressure. We believe that you will enjoy getting to know someone better (or making a new friend), while you learn more about this important step we are taking together in the life of our Church.

What if I know what I want to pledge and do not need a visit?

You do not need to meet with anyone about the campaign. However, you will be missing a wonderful opportunity connect with a member of the Church family and to share your views on the Church and the Campaign.

Who will see my pledge?

Your pledge is confidential.  Your Campaign visitor will bring a pledge card for you to fill out. At the end of your visit, you can place your confidential pledge in a sealed envelope and give it to your visitor. Your sealed envelope will be returned to the Campaign Treasurer who, along with FCCEJ’s Financial Secretary (Pat Seaver), will be the only people to view pledge amounts.  If you need more time, you may also leave your envelope in the church office or drop it in the mail.

How long will my Capital Campaign pledge last?  

You may make up to a three-year commitment with payments completed by the end of June 2021. For example, a $3,000 pledge could be paid at $1,000 per year; a $12,000 pledge could be paid at $4,000 per year, and so on. You may pay your pledge weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly or all at once – whatever works best for you. We ask that payments begin by July 1, 2018 if possible. Please know that any early payments are greatly appreciated, as they will help reduce the size of any “bridge loan financing” that may be needed to proceed with construction.

Is money the only form of a payment I can make on my pledge?  

No. While many church members will make monetary payments on their pledges, we can accept certain other forms of payments such as stock transfers. By donating appreciated stocks or mutual funds, you can take a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the securities (within any applicable limits) and you don’t have to pay the capital gains tax as you would if you sold the securities and donated the cash. The Campaign can accept gifts of real estate or personal property only if they have no lien against them and are immediately marketable, with a value determined by a third-party market appraisal. You should always consult your own financial advisor first before making a gift from your assets. For stock transfer information, or any other questions about your pledge, please contact Campaign Treasurer Dan Petherbridge. It is very helpful for us to know about potential stock transfers in advance, because checks we receive from stock sales do not have individual donors listed.     

I’m over 70 ½ years old and subject to the Required Minimum Distribution rules for my IRA…can I make a gift with those funds?

Yes, individuals age 70 1/2 and older can make a qualified charitable distribution from their IRA as a distribution for purposes of the Required Minimum Distribution rules. These qualified distributions are made directly to the church by your IRA trustee and not subject to Federal income tax. You should always consult your own financial advisor to understand your particular circumstances before making a gift from your assets.

Are Capital Campaign pledge payments tax deductible?

Yes, Campaign pledge payments are tax deductible, similar to your annual church pledge. You will receive a quarterly statement from the Campaign Treasurer letting you know the status of your pledge. You also will receive an annual statement for income-tax purposes.        

Is my pledge to the Capital Campaign in addition to my annual Stewardship pledge that helps fund our operating budget?

Yes! We are asking all members and friends of FCCEJ to consider the vital importance of this Campaign so that we can continue serving our church family and community – both current and future. The Capital Campaign will end in June. Our annual Stewardship campaign for 2019 will launch next fall as usual. It may be helpful to think of your pledge to our annual budget drive as similar to paying for routine household expenses, whereas the Capital Campaign is more like a major renovation project or an event such as a wedding or special vacation. It is something we choose to dip into savings for, or even borrow money to bring about.                                          

Can I pay my Capital Campaign pledge using electronic payment?

Yes. If you would like to fulfill your Campaign pledge via electronic payment, please check the appropriate box on your pledge form and see your bank about setting up online Bill Pay.

My employer will match some charitable contributions. Can I do this for the church’s Campaign?

Yes, please ask your company to send matching gift payments to the First Congregational Church of Essex Jct, Attn: Capital Campaign, One Church Street, Essex Jct., VT 05452.

What if I have additional questions or concerns about my pledge?

Contact Campaign Treasurer Dan Petherbridge with any questions about your pledge.


How were the project plans and cost estimates developed and prioritized?

The initial list of projects was developed by our Trustees and prioritized by a cross-section of the congregation during a feasibility study conducted in Fall 2016. In October 2017, Church Council approved the hiring of architectural firm of Scott + Partners, Inc. to review project plans, make recommendations, and prepare cost estimates. The project list was then further refined by the Capital Campaign Steering Committee and Building Team, and shared with the congregation during a series of Informational Meetings in January 2018. Feedback from those meetings has been given to the architect and Trustees.

Is there a “mission component” for this Capital Campaign?

Yes, because ALL of the projects help us “take care of our home,” they ALL help provide a strong foundation for growing our outreach and ministry. Several of the projects have a direct impact on our mission work. By making our facilities more accessible, we are better able to truly welcome all the individuals and the 20+ community groups using our space. By completing our kitchen remodel, we can begin to imagine what new ministries and service might be possible with an efficient and user-friendly commercial kitchen.

Are the project plans final?  

No. Project plans are at the schematic level and will require finalizing before they are sent out for bidding. The project list reflects the priorities shared by the congregation AND makes the most sense from a construction standpoint (e.g. completing roof repair/replacements first before any plaster/painting work is done). Other factors could also influence the timeline, including actual Campaign pledges and gifts received, permit approval and weather to name a few. There will be another opportunity for the congregation to provide input into the kitchen plan as we get closer to work on that particular project.

When will construction begin?  

We hope to begin work in Summer 2018. Our plan is to start with the roofing project and we will schedule other projects as quickly as possible over the next two to three years. Some of the project work may overlap.

Who will manage project construction?  

The Trustees will oversee the completion of all projects, with project management assistance from the architectural firm of Scott+Partners, Inc. where necessary. Project management fees are included as part of the overall project cost line item in the budget. Contractors to perform the work will be selected through a competitive bidding process in accordance with church policies.

Will project construction require temporary relocation of church activities?  

Yes, but not for all projects. For example, the sanctuary restoration (wall repair, painting, window repair/refurbishment, etc.) will require the temporary relocation of worship services, most likely to the Fellowship Hall. Our goal is to minimize the disruption of church activities as much as possible. We will keep the congregation well-informed of any relocation needs as they arise.

Will any of these projects affect the Food Pantry?  

Aside from any disruption that may be associated with construction activities, we do not expect the food pantry to be affected. If the potential for any disruption does arise, Trustees will work with the food pantry to ensure that there is an adequate “Plan B” for programs to continue.

What happens if we don’t raise enough money to complete all the projects?

We expect to conclude our fundraising efforts by June. At that time, we will review the total amount of pledges received and see where we are. If we do not reach our goal, we will determine which projects can be completed given the available funds and the priorities shared by the congregation.

How can I learn more about the Campaign and projects?

There are many ways! The Campaign Co-Chairs and our Trustees will be updating the congregation regularly on the Campaign and building projects as we move forward. In addition, there will be updates via the weekly bulletins and monthly newsletters, Facebook and our website at

How can I make a difference by volunteering?

There are many ways to contribute! We are looking for volunteers to serve as visitors (great training and materials provided!), help with mailings and thank you notes, and help with the Kick-Off Celebration on April 8th and the closing celebration in early June. All kinds of skills and talents are helpful and welcome! All kinds of skills and talents are helpful! Please contact Co-Chairs Dave Johnson or Kaki McGeary if you would like to get involved.