by Kathy Merkle-Raymond
A sermon by Kathy Merkle-Raymond, Director of Communal Care (preaching texts: Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18 and Matthew 5: 38-48)....Download
I understand that the annual Stewardship letter is usually written in a manner that extols the virtues of giving, with a line or two of scripture to illustrate the point.
I am writing today to tell you that I make a pledge to the First Pres Stewardship campaign every year for purely selfish reasons. I pledge because I want First Pres to exist–and given your generosity, to thrive–because if it didn’t there are so many things about it that I would miss terribly. I would miss having that chunk of time on a Sunday that I can spend thinking about the holy, in a place where I feel accepted and loved. I would miss the community of friends and neighbors that I have developed through this church, some of whom I (regrettably) only see at worship or church-sponsored events. I would miss the music. I would even miss the occasional bench-clearing battle that we seem to have every year or two; it is proof that we really are a family and that we care deeply!
I am sure that each of you would have your own list of things, events and people that you would miss if First Pres didn’t exist (many of which would be less selfish than mine).
I can also tell you that it would be impossible for First Pres to continue to exist if a very large number of you did not make an annual pledge. Pledges allow the Session to make a budget and a plan for the coming year. Pledges allow First Pres to exist.
Many churches are struggling because they have large facilities and fewer members. Some churches have had to cut their mission giving by as much as 90%. We have stayed true to our commitment to outreach. We should celebrate that. Last year we began encouraging everyone to look at our giving to the church so that we can keep this amazing community of faith going…and going in the way that most fits our needs. This year we are continuing this focus hoping that people will pledge a percentage of their income and increase their giving as income increases. Please begin thinking prayerfully, progressively, and proportionally about your giving.
In the current uncertainty of our financial times, you may have pause about declaring a pledge, but we would encourage you by writing that now is the perfect time to stand up and claim your priorities. Now is the time to say, this is my church family and it is an ultimate priority. It is where I receive my spiritual nourishment. It is the place that challenges me to live beyond the voice of culture to the freer life of faith.
You are a congregation of generous people. May you give generously to the church’s ministry and mission this year. As you give, may you know the joy of giving and the satisfaction of knowing what an important presence this church is in the world.
Blessings to each and all,
Your Stewardship Chair