Harry Potter and the church pledge drive

Good idea:

Harry Potter and the church pledge drive [in HarryPotter font]

by Dave Seifert

Harry Potter is coming to church in Cumberland.

The popular books and movies, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, will be used as the theme for this year’s pledge drive at Emmanuel Church. The special campaign will feature celebration, competition and creativity.

Here are five things to know about what Emmanuel is doing.

1. Separating the focus on pledge drive and stewardship. Emmanuel has stopped using the term “stewardship” in direct connection with financial pledges. “We’re having a ministry fair in early September where members can tell us how they will spend their time and talents,” explained the Rev. Joan Testin, rector. “The pledge campaign is about funds to operate the church and how we as Christians think about and decide how to spend our money.

“We separate out ‘treasure’ from ‘time and talent’ because it gives all of us time to consider how we use our discretionary money,” she added. “When we give appropriately for the work of the church and to help serve others, we are free to enjoy the rest of what we have been able to earn and accumulate through God’s good gifts to us.”

2. Having fun and celebrating. The campaign will begin with a celebratory dinner to announce the theme and prizes. Parishioners will be divided into four groups, to represent the four houses at the Hogwarts School of the books and movies. Testin and a church member who normally tracks pledges are creating the teams to have a balance of current pledgers and nonpledgers.

“We’re planning to serve some of the foods talked about in the books — such as treacle tarts and knickerbocker glories (traditional British desserts),” she noted. “One of our members also is researching a way for us to play Quidditch (magical competitive sport involving flying contestants).”

3. Building involvement/engagement. The campaign will use competition to build involvement. The team with the most pledging members will win “the house cup” (given at Hogwarts at the end of the school year to the house with the most points), which will be awarded at a mid-November celebration.

4. Using visual stimulation. As the campaign goes on, progress will be tracked using big charts on the back of the wall in Emmanuel’s worship space. Big sequins will be used to add jewels to a cup each time someone pledges.

House Cup marbles at Hogwarts Castle.
The actual House Cup scorekeeping marbles at Hogwarts Castle


5. Continuing to emphasize the “why” of pledging vs. giving. Even with all the creativity, though, the campaign isn’t without its traditional moments. “We’re planning our usual Sunday morning conversations about why we pledge vs. why we give,” Testin said. “But we’re building everything around the Potter theme. We’ll see how it goes!”


Do you know of other “good ideas” happening at Rhode Island Episcopal churches? Other churches might pick up those ideas and apply them. Send your “good idea stories” to pressroom@episcopalri.org.