During our Congregational Giving Appeal season, members of WCUC are sharing how this community impacts them and why they give. Ruth and David gave this testimony on October 11th.
Ruth: My parents taught me so much about generosity: generosity of love, generosity of encouragement, generosity of forgiveness – but they did not teach me about generosity of money. I never knew how much money my parents gave away. And that was weird, because we talked about money constantly: I knew how much money my father brought home each week, how much my mother put into each of her little brown bill envelopes; how little, if any, would be left. I don’t think my parents were able to give much, if anything, to the church. I was aware that that was a source of considerable discomfort for them. Of course, there was no way to talk about that at their church.
Dave: I come from the same economic background as Ruth. And, my family didn’t talk about their giving habits either. But it seemed like my church talked about nothing else. Even as a kid I thought it was bizarre. Our church collected no less than 3 offerings during worship on Sunday. I honestly thought that the church kept collecting money from everyone until the parishioners literally ran out of money to give. In my church, guilt seemed to be the motivating factor in giving.
Ruth: So along come Dave and I. Married barely out of our teens. Earnestly trying to conduct ourselves as grownups. And, we did okay – except around the issue of generosity. There we didn’t have a clue what to do or why.
But then, as many of you know, we started moving around. We’ve lived all over the country in our 42 years together, and for us, cross-pollination has been a good thing. We encountered a few church congregations along the way that DID have safe and loving ways to talk about money. People we admired and trusted, people who in many ways were just like us, helped us begin to think about giving, and the kind of givers we wanted to be.
David: Another thing happened: as we moved around, since we had no family close by, we kind of adopted the church as our family and they adopted us and it helped a lot esp. when we had kids. And that helped us understand a bit about giving – it wasn’t to a faceless edifice or organization, it was our alma familia and giving took on a new meaning.
Ruth: Early on when we finally got the courage to calculate our giving as a percentage of our income, it wasn’t much, but hey, you have to start somewhere. We’d ask ourselves, can we move this year from 1 to 1 ½ percent? From 1 ½ to 2?
David: We eventually got to 10 percent; some years it’s more, some years less, but to tell you the truth lately we haven’t been keeping strict track – it’s just kind of where we are right now. We’ve never really been dealt the ‘guilt’ card, so we’ve really never viewed our gifts in that way. The way we see it, we owe God everything. Everything we are, everything we have is through God.
Ruth: It is absolutely our privilege to share at least some of our gifts in ways that serve God. Sharing our money in this place – where we bump into the Holy in such surprising ways, where people work so hard to make God’s love and justice real – is a joy. We do it for ourselves, and we do it for those we have not yet met, so that they might know the joy, too.
It’s also a privilege to share our story with you. Thank you.