By JORDAN MCMORROUGH
CHARLESTON The results are in for the 1998 Diocesan Development Fund (DDF) campaign, themed “Returning God’s Gifts,” and it heralds the completion of the most successful year in its history.
Last year’s effort brought in over $1.7 million from 16,549 participating families, both of which are new highs for the diocese. In addition, over $100,000 will be paid into parish endowments, with 65 churches exceeding their goals again, the most ever.
“As of late November, I thought we’d make our goal ($1.75 million),” said Greg Bowden, DDF assistant who is in charge of the day-to-day operation of the campaign. “Still, it was a great year.”
To try and top last year’s gains, efforts have been undertaken by the Stewardship and Development Office to expand capabilities in providing needed support throughout the diocese.
“The only problem with having the best year ever is that, in order to top it, you have to have the best year ever,” said Bowden.
The format for the DDF “kick-off meetings” was changed, making them a workshop oriented towards staff and volunteers. It is hoped that the gatherings will eventually become a sort of certification process, whereby people would only need to attend once and then changes to future campaigns would be sent out in a mailing. Priests and pastoral administrators received a kick-off presentation at their December deanery meetings.
Throughout December and January, DDF kick-offs and workshops were held in each deanery at St. Mary, the Virgin Mother, in Hartsville; Our Lady of the Lake in Chapin; St. Paul the Apostle in Spartanburg; Blessed Sacrament in Charleston; Church of the Nativity on James Island in Charleston; St. Mary’s in Geenville; St. Peter’s in Columbia; and St. Anthony’s in Florence.
The deanery meetings were held primarily for priests and pastoral administrators, while the workshops were geared toward parish secretaries, bookkeepers, stewardship chairpersons, finance chairpersons and parish council chairpersons.
Bishop David B. Thompson is celebrating four donor recognition Masses to thank parishioners for last year’s contributions. He celebrated liturgies for the Coastal Deanery at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston on Jan. 10 and at Corpus Christi Church in Lexington for the Midlands Deanery on Jan. 16. The Bishop is scheduled to be the celebrant at two future services at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg for the Piedmont Deanery on Sunday, Jan. 31, and at St. Michael’s Church in Garden City on Sunday, Feb. 7, for the Pee Dee Deanery.
Feb. 14 has been designated as DDF Sunday, with the goal for this year’s campaign set at $1.8 million. It represents a 6 percent increase over the 1998 mark. The theme for the appeal is “Bless Us, O Lord.”
Bowden said that 37 percent of families in the Diocese of Charleston donated to last year’s appeal with the average gift totaling about $105, a number that his office hopes to improve on this year.
In 1998, 16,549 families donated $1.7 million (98.5 percent of goal); in 1997 the numbers were 14,002 donating $1.57 million (85 percent of goal); in 1996, the numbers were 14,859 donating $1.67 million (93 percent of goal).