Rev. Carol Bodeau, Director of Religious Education firstname.lastname@example.org
This week, we are kicking off our annual canvass campaign, during which members and friends of the church make financial pledges in support of this community. Each year, our annual budget is determined by your commitments of money in support of WUUC. For some, this is a familiar and simple process--you may have been pledging for years, and feel comfortable with how your level of giving fits into your family budget. For others, the process is more challenging. You might not be sure how much is appropriate to pledge, or what’s “fair,” or even if you can afford to pledge at all.
Sometimes, people wonder if they can be members of the church without making a monetary pledge. The answer is that full membership does indeed require some financial commitment, but there is no set minimum level of giving. So how do you decide whether to pledge, if you‘re on the fence on the subject, or what amount to pledge?
The UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) does offer some basic guidelines for determining actual numbers, but perhaps thinking first about pledging in broader terms can help us feel really good about the level we are able to give. Often, money is something that causes worry, concern, and stress. We live in a culture that encourages us to think in terms of what we do not have rather than recognizing the blessings we are already experiencing. We are inundated with messages telling us that we do not have enough--money, property, goods, etc. It encourages us to be fearful about money. These messages further suggest that our material goods (or lack thereof) are a suitable measure of our essential being. In other words, we measure ourselves by what we possess, rather than by who we are and how we live our lives.
From this vantage point, there is never enough. Someone else always has more, there’s always something else to buy, or some distant horizon of ‘having’ that we will never reach. From this perspective, people experience chronic feelings of lack, shortage, and inadequacy. And from this perspective, it’s really hard to feel like we have enough to share. We want to keep whatever we can, because we fear even more ‘not having enough.‘
But if we take the less common view, and follow the old cliché of ‘counting our blessings’ we often find ourselves experiencing the world as abundant and generous. If you feel truly blessed--with family, friends, food, shelter, simple comforts--you are more likely to feel that you can share some with others. Take a moment and consider your blessings. For a moment, avoid the urge to compare the list of what you do have, to the list of what you don’t have. And avoid the urge to compare yourself with any other people (in your family, in your neighborhood, or in the church). See how many things you can list as ’riches’ in your life.
Doesn’t that make you feel good? I know for me, even when finances are tight, looking around at the blessings in my life makes me feel lucky, and wealthy. When I look at our church, I see so many open minds, loving hearts, and helping hands. I see a beautiful sanctuary and beautiful grounds. Classrooms that are filled with resources for our children to learn, and teachers doing a wonderful job teaching. I see committees working hard at the ministries they provide, and staff and volunteers who truly care about this place. I see a facility that is equipped with space and potential for growth and new promise. As a community, we are truly rich, truly blessed. Of course, this all needs our love, care, and energy to maintain it. But it is so worth that effort!
I hope you’ll consider your pledging from this perspective. The number you write on your pledge card matters less than the feeling of generosity with which you write it. For those with fewer financial resources, a small amount can be truly generous. It is the amount of generosity you offer that truly raises your spirits, and brings abundance to us all.
We support what we love, and what loves us. I hope that Westside is both of those for you. Thank you for all you do to support Westside.