Why We Give
I come at pledging from a different perspective than some, since my father served as a UCC minister for 20 years. My family lived the consequences of successful pledge drives and ones that fell short of the goal. As a Preacher’s Kid, or PK, I understood church expenses and the importance of year-round giving from an early age.
Stewardship and pledging are “squirmy” topics - they’re not easy to discuss. No one wants to be told how much they should give, nor should any church do that. But, the reality is, churches have bills to pay and need money coming in, throughout the year (not just at Christmas and Easter), to keep the lights on -- as we all do. Where does the money come from to keep the church open and thriving? It comes from its members and friends…like you and me. So we members and friends have to talk about stewardship and pledging.
I know I’m not the only one that appreciates some guidance or suggestions on how to thoughtfully determine an annual pledge. Many years ago, as a member of another UCC church, I found a pledge goal that resonated with me then, and still does today. It’s the idea of giving 5% of your income plus 5% of your time and talent.
Figuring 5% of income is simple: salary (or adjusted gross income, if you prefer) x .05. The 5% of time and talent is not so easy to calculate - and I’m not suggesting you do - but I do want you to realize that all you contribute makes a big difference in the life of the church. Do you participate in worship regularly? That counts. Host coffee hour? Serve on a church board? Help with SEEC lunches? Bring contributions for AFAC? Teach Sunday School? Decorate the Sanctuary for special services? Help with Fifth Sunday events? The list goes on, and it all counts towards that goal of 5% of time and talent.
Take it from a PK: it takes more than God’s grace or Divine Providence to build and maintain a successful church like Rock Spring and to support its many fine programs. It takes a lot of money, time, and talent, from members and friends like you and me.
Bill & Beth Wiggins
We were married in the Rock Spring Sanctuary on a beautiful September day twelve years ago and became members shortly thereafter. Beth, who grew up a Congregationalist, had been attending services at Rock Spring for several years. Since then, our family has grown, as has our appreciation for and sense of Rock Spring’s community, fellowship, shared values, and openness. We support Rock Spring not only because of the spiritual support it provides, but also because all of the above things are rarer in the world than they should be. Moreover, they require purposeful effort to sustain and grow. As members, we are committed to preserving the generosity, kindness, and forward thinking of Rock Spring so that others can benefit from it as well.
When I look at our world, I see much beauty in the natural world and in human relationships. Walking in the Maine woods or watching a thunderstorm make me marvel at creation. Hearing echoes of West African drum rhythms in a traditional Colombian dance makes me smile at the lovely intersections of cultures. Yet I also see ecosystems in peril and hatred fueling savage warfare. I want the beautiful to win. If, by giving money to those organizations that are taking concrete steps to advance the good, I can help tip the balance toward a greener, more peaceful world, I cannot do anything less. I live a nice life and have more than my share of life’s necessities. Why wouldn’t I use my money to help others live better lives?
Looking at headlines reveals our world is hurting from people doing unspeakable things to one another. Usually the majority of victims are children. Hopeless and hurting, these kids grow up to continue the spiral. In response to this situation, I have become a member of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Board of the US Fund for UNICEF. Richard and I are also major donors. We feel strongly that the best hope for a peaceful world is for every child to have clean water, enough to eat, medical care, education, and freedom from exploitation. UNICEF works in 190 countries doing just this and I’m proud to be a part of this organization.
The reason I give to Rock Spring is that I wish to support this community in its mission to advance the kingdom of heaven as I understand it. There are so many broken places in our world, and having a safe, loving community is very special. What I hear and feel with members of our congregation reminds me that perseverance in doing God’s work is what the world needs and I find the strength to continue to do so. I believe God calls us to care for the world and one another. Giving to Rock Spring helps build up that feeling in others so we can do more.
Over the past year, I was less involved in the life of the church than I’ve ever been before: no committee meetings and missing more Sunday mornings than I can count. Yet, this is the year I experienced the love and support of our church community most strongly.
When I switched careers to become a D.C. public charter school teacher, Rock Springers supported me in more ways than I can count: volunteering in my classroom, being an open ear after a difficult day, or even just offering a smile on Sunday morning. Even though it was a rough year for me, I felt continuously enveloped by a community of people who cared about me.
Rock Spring has been a place where I have enjoyed teaching Sunday School, serving our community through 5th Sunday events, and joining in fellowship with kind, intelligent, generous people. And this past year, this community that I have served was the community that supported me through a difficult time.
I am once again engaged in our children and youth ministries and each week I am infected with the curiosity, enthusiasm, and joy that these young people embody. I am eternally grateful for the continued love and support that this community provides, regardless of how I am able to engage in the life of the church.
As I make my pledge, I will give as generously as I am able because I want Rock Spring to continue meet the many and varied needs in all of our lives.