Last February, John Pugh and I attended an Alaska United Methodist Conference sponsored stewardship workshop entitled, “Creating Congregational Cultures of Generosity.” It was led by the renowned Indiana University affiliated Lake Institute on Faith and Giving. The workshop addressed an important and timely topic for congregations struggling to sustain their ministries and make ends meet. It was a fine event and we received valuable resources from which John and I learned much.
We also came away encouraged. Our participation confirmed what we implicitly knew. Northern Light United Church and its members and friends are already generous! We realized that we don’t need to create a culture of congregational generosity, but we can do better to care for and nurture those who make our good fortune possible. We have adopted, therefore, “Celebrating Our Generosity” as the theme of this year’s stewardship drive. The campaign is a time to say THANK YOU! for the many ways members and friends support our church’s mission.
Together, we generously give of our time, talent, skill, and financial resources. Together, by God’s grace, we create and participate in:
– inspiring and centering worship, song and prayer,
– perceptive and provocative education,
– informed and passionate social justice advocacy,
– effective and dedicated service,
– compassionate and ongoing care, and
– lively and fun fellowship.
Members and friends have a long history of giving wisely and generously both to the core budget and to special appeals of our church. We are the beneficiaries of generous forbearers. We who currently serve, stand on their shoulders and continue in their stead. When a need is made known, we give and we volunteer. We respond to new and continuing opportunities with awareness and insight. We serve lunches, dinners, and refreshments, pack weekend food bags, assemble hygiene kits and cleaning buckets, provide emergency assistance, teach classes, read and sing in worship, help each other, laugh together, pray together, cry together, and on it goes.
As members and friends are generous, so is our church as a whole. Everywhere I go in Juneau, people mention the generosity of our church. When a cause needs a supporter or a group needs a place to meet, the community turns to Northern Light. Whether a Family Promise fundraiser, an interfaith service on climate change, a neighborhood meeting with the police, a community discussion on reentry from incarceration, or raising funds to keep the Front Street Clinic operating, our church’s doors are open and our contributions are given.
When we celebrate our generosity, we are inspired to give, not out of dreary obligation, but with joyous anticipation. In the words of 1st Timothy, we are “generous and ready to share,” and experience “the life that is really life.” (1 Timothy 6: 18,19)
Teresa and I are grateful to be part of such a faithful and generous congregation. We look forward to this focused time of stewardship as we pledge our time and money and join with all of you in celebrating the generosity of many. I give thanks for this ministry we share.
44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would…distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. – Acts 2: 44-47