The Congregational Giving Task Force asked me to reflect on my experiences and approach to charitable giving, and I have to say this has been an interesting task. Historically, in my younger adult life, there was never much extra money to go around, so I volunteered time instead. For instance, as young parents in western Massachusetts, David and I joined the board of our children’s daycare center. This particular center catered to a transient mix of grad students and local families, many of whom were on public assistance. It was a rich melting pot of different cultures, skin colors, and experiences, totally groovy, and operated on an absolute shoestring budget. The board’s role was to roll up our sleeves and solve any problems that came up, with essentially no budget – fixing the road sign when the snow plow knocked it down (again), dismembering a tree that fell onto the playground, dealing with a migration of biting ants across the blacktop, applying for grants, and working toward accreditation. It was so gratifying to have played a role in sustaining the mission of that wonderful daycare center.
But then we finished grad school and moved to Concord for our “grown up” jobs. Now fast-forward 9 years. We are so fortunate and so blessed. And now we have more than just time to give. But where do we focus our money, how much do we give, and how do we decide? In the past, it’s been a very haphazard process, perhaps responding to current events, or specific pleas from organizations. But last year, we decided to be more discerning. I asked the kids over dinner what issues they felt strongly about. Their response? Climate change. So this year we have given more to Mass Audubon and Environment Massachusetts, while continuing our support of the Heifer Project and Planned Parenthood. The largest share of our charitable giving, however, goes to West Concord Union Church, because this is a community of people who mirror our values, and I think that by putting our resources together, we can accomplish so much more. Do we tithe? Actually yes, in 2016, but only because of our donation to the renovation project. Our typical pledge ranges around 6% of our gross income, and we try to increase it every year. For me, it’s about watching the Holy Spirit at work through Sunday Fellowship, the Youth Group, our Mission projects, and our focus on Justice.
Please join me in considering how you see God at work in this church, and where you might offer up your blessings. Thank you.