Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


Money & Anxiety: As Old As the Bible

Family Minister, Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento

February 28, 2010

Introduction

[Minister is holding rural-route mail box on top of his head.

It says PLEDGE CARDS on it.]

Worship Leader:  Roger, do you have something on your mind?

Minister: Yes, Judy, I do have something on my mind.  It’s been on my mind for several weeks.  It was even a little bit on my mind while I was on vacation last week.  Can you guess what it is?    The stewardship drive is the annual campaign when members and friends make our financial commitment to support the congregation for the coming budget year.  Our budget supports most of the programs, facilities, outreach ministries and staff members of the congregation.  We have had positive results so far, and 1/3 of the expected pledge cards have been turned in.  Off the top of my head, [Putting the mail box back on its stand], I’d say this means we expect the remaining 2/3 to be submitted by the end of February. That gives us nearly 12 hours to wrap up.  I’m not ready to panic, but the stewardship season does increase my anxiety level every year.  {PS to web readers.  If you are a member or friend, you can find and print out a pledge card  at http://uuss.org/Forms/Pledge%20Card%202010-2011.pdf.  Thank you!}

Reading

This reading is a poem entitled “Joe Heller,” written in 2005 by the late Kurt Vonnegut about his fellow writer and friend and published in the New Yorker magazine [5/16/05].

Joe Heller

True story, Word of Honor:

Joseph Heller, and important and funny writer

now dead,

and I were at a party given by a billionaire

on Shelter Island.

I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel

to know that our host only yestereday

may have made more money than your novel ‘Catch-22’

has earned in its entire history?”

And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”

And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”

And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”

Not bad!  Rest in peace!

Sermon

Ongoing political controversies about homosexuality and abortion rights could give you the impression that the Holy Bible is bursting with guidance about same-sex relationships and family planning, but it’s not.  Contrary to the advocacy of religious conservatives, the Holy Bible says less about sexual morality than it does about financial morality.

Here are some examples:   Hebrew prophets in several books condemn the oppression of the poor by the powerful, and the Jewish Bible  prohibits lending money at high rates of interest, the way credit card companies and payday lenders do today.   It speaks of the jubilee year—a celebration every 50 years in which land was to lie fallow, all property was returned to to its original owners or their heirs, all debts were forgiven and indentured servants released.  Contrast this with debtor prisons which existed in Europe and the U.S. until the mid-19th century.  In the New Testament, in one scene, Jesus of Nazareth praises the poor widow for her generous offering to the temple while scolding the rich donors for their pride and their lack of equal sacrifice.

According to the Reverend Stephen Gray:  Of the 38 parables or stories told by Jesus in the New Testament, 16 deal with the relationship between what you say you believe and how you use your money and possessions; of everything that Jesus talks about, the number two topic is the use we make of our possessions.  (He didn’t say what the number one topic is.)

Gray is a United Church of Christ minister who speaks about money.  He gave a workshop at the annual meeting of the UU Ministers Association several years ago.  By his calculation, in both testaments of the Holy Bible one out of eight verses talks about the relationship between faith and the use of our money and possessions.  Of the Ten Commandments, three provide instructions on how we relate to money and possessions, including the possessions of others, such as not coveting what they have.

The individual books of the Bible were composed in different places and times over a span of thousands of years, written by and for different communities.  Yet throughout those varied books are stories, questions, and guidelines about money in personal relationships as well as money and social justice and fairness.  These various passages don’t all say the same thing, but they show the centrality of money to human relationships.  Stress over money is not a new thing.

Gray writes: “If you wonder why money and possessions are referred to so often in the Bible, I would simply remind you of the number one reason for family conflict?  The answer, of course, is money.”  Money was a major source of domestic disagreements long ago, and it still is.  This is why premarital counseling and couples workshops help engaged couples to talk in advance of their wedding about financial priorities and habits, as well as the messages they received about money while growing up.

To demonstrate how important this is, Gray tells this story about an old married couple up in Maine:  Matilda and Bert were visiting the Blue Hill Fair.  Soon enough they came across one of those open-cockpit airplane rides with the advertisement:  Ride for 2 — $10.  Matilda said to Bert:  “You know I sure would like to take one of those airplane rides.”  To which Bert replied, “I don’t think so.  Ten dollars is ten dollars!” But Matilda said, “But Bert, I’m 72 years old.  I might never get a chance to fly in one of those planes.”  To which Bert replied, “I don’t think so.  Ten dollars is ten dollars!”
At that point the pilot, who was listening in on their conversation, said, “Tell you what, folks.  I’ll take the two of you up for an airplane ride for nothing as long as you don’t say one word during the flight.  But if you say so much as just one word, you owe me $10.”  Well, that sounded like a bargain they couldn’t pass up, so Matilda and Bert climbed into the little open-cockpit plane.
Well, that pilot did everything he could to get them to cry out.  He did loop de loops, he did spins, he took the plane into steep dives.  But Bert and Matilda didn’t say one single word.
Defeated, the pilot finally brought the plane in for a landing and turned around to Matilda and said, “Well, I guess you got that plane ride for free.  I did everything I could to get you to say something, but I didn’t hear one word.”  To which Matilda replied, “Well, I was going to say something when Bert fell out of the plane… But then again, ten dollars is ten dollars!” [i][At the first service this story was told to the children before they departed for Religious Education.]

Nothing like that happened in my family, but I did grow up with mixed messages about money.  Instead of learning clear lessons about financial security, frugality or generosity, I learned to be anxious and ambivalent about money.  My relationship to money was shaped in part by the habits, attitudes, complaints and worries I heard from parents and close relatives.  We were secure financially as a family, but it didn’t feel that way.  In contrast, I’ve heard other people say, “I grew up in a poor family, but we didn’t realize we were poor.  We had enough to eat, fun ways to spend time, and lots of love.”

Every Sunday the Sacramento Bee newspaper runs a few articles from the Wall Street Journal, one of which is entitled Yoder & Sons.  For several years the Journal‘s San Francisco Bureau Chief, Stephen Yoder, has written a column with his teenage son Isaac, who’s now in his first year of college.  Last year the team added the younger son, Levi, who is 14 and a high school freshman.  Every week there’s a new topic related to family life and money.  The father and one or both of his kids write their thoughts on topics like kids’ allowances, savings, spending, cell phones, summer vacations, summer internships, selecting a college and paying for it, volunteer work, giving to charity, and balancing work and family life.  They don’t always see eye-to-eye.  The parents struggle with how much free choice to leave to the ikds and when to assert parental control.  But they stay in conversation, and all of them learn from one another.

In January, 14-year-old Eli made a New Year’s resolution to give away 10% of the money he makes from writing the column for the newspaper.  He would divide it between the family’s church and another not-for-profit organization.  A month later he was still putting it off.  He said his church youth group is collecting money to support a clinic in Indonesia “that provides health care in local villages in return for the villagers’ pledging not to cut down trees there, and to restore part of the rainforest by planting seedlings.”  Eli writes:  “For the fund-raiser, we’re going to ask the adults to pitch in, and I figure I should lead by example.”  He notes, however, that the fundraiser will be a temporary event.  He wants to start making donations regularly, and he’s still trying to figure out which not-for-profit agency will benefit from his tithe.   He commits to visiting the bank on the upcoming Saturday and withdrawing 10% of his earnings to give away.

Like many people with the last name of Yoder, this is a family of the Mennonite church.  Related historically to the Amish, Brethren, and Quaker traditions, the Mennonites are a self-proclaimed peace church.  They stand against war and capital punishment, and are involved in ministries of health care, economic development and emergency relief in poor countries.  Steve Yoder, the father, writes that he learned the practice of tithing from his own parents:  10% of his allowance and earnings went into the church offering plate.

Yet he adds:  “Talking to to my sons about their money decisions sometimes means admitting my own failures….  I must confess one here:  We should be giving more money away.”  He explains that he and his wife, Karen, do give away both time as well as money, but they have fallen behind their own standard of tithing, and it’s become less of  a priority.

Recalling the Jewish Biblical tradition of giving away the first fruits of one’s harvest, Steve writes that if any of us waits until we think of all the other things we want or need to do with our money, we will find reasons to give away less than we can—or give almost nothing.  He recounts a story of a Mennonite cattle-farming family.  Every year, the family would designate the first calf born  as the one for the Mennonite Central Committee a service agency that is the Mennonite church’s “rough equivalent of the Peace Corps.”  The so-called MCC Calf would “be fatted and nurtured just like the rest of the herd.  At year’s end, no matter how thin the family finances were, the full-grown cow would be sold, and the proceeds sent to the (service agency).”  Steve Yoder says:  “Giving first–before spending on yourself–has got to be a lifestyle choice, like investing in the 401(K) before buying a new car.”  Now he and his wife are talking about downsizing their home and becoming more frugal in order to “leave more money upfront to give away, while still allowing us to do the things we value, such as travel.” Inspired by his son’s thoughtfulness and good intentions, Yoder says “Levi is on the right track.  Now if Karen and I can just get ourselves on that track too.”[ii]

Even in a family like this, with strong traditions and common commitments, managing money is a challenge, a topic for ongoing dialogue, and a reason for mutual support and encouragement.  I can’t imagine it’s any easier for other families than it is for the Yoders. Stress about money and possessions is a real part of real life.  It’s important to acknowledge our personal reactions about money, or about any other topic brings up strong feelings.  It can help to be clear about what gives us joy and what our hopes are,  as well as about our dilemmas, doubts and fears.  It’s especially useful to talk about anxiety about money.  This is important whether we are a family of one person, two, three, seven or more.  Anxiety is a sign that something deep is going on in us.

Anxiety is a challenge to look deeply—it’s not a feeling to run from, avoid or conquer, as much as we’d like to get rid of it.  It’s a feeling to look in the face.  If we know our own values well and keep to them, if we stick to our personal priorities, we can let anxiety be what it is, without letting it drive our decisions and run our lives. We can respect our anxiety without letting it chase us around.

I know adults who learned to tithe as children, but I didn’t.  My parents were somewhat generous to the church and larger community, but there was a sense of duty about it, even a sense of caution:  Make sure you don’t give away too much!  What I missed then was a sense of joy in giving.  We didn’t experience the joy that comes from living with an attitude of abundance and gratitude.

When I think of the spirit of abundance and gratitude, I see the image of gardeners passing some of their vegetables over the fence to neighbors, or bringing extra produce to church to give away.  I remember  a house I saw last year in a Sacramento neighborhood where I was apartment-hunting.  It had a sign in the front yard:  “Help yourself to fruit from the tree.”  I said, “I want to live near them!”  Alas, the apartment I found was 12 blocks away.  But a few weeks after I moved into my new place, a neighbor from a family in the next building knocked on my door to introduce herself.  I’d already met her spouse when he brought me a piece of mail that had ended up in their box.  As a housewarming gesture, she brought me two cupcakes, freshly baked and frosted.  I was delighted–and I obliged by eating them at once.  Who knows if the joy was greater for her or for me?  But it seems clear that joy increases in all directions by the act of giving and receiving–giving away without expectation, and receiving graciously.

It can be challenging to feel a sense of abundance or gratitude when we are beset by misfortune, loss, illness or money problems.  Yet often we meet or hear about people who get by on little money but show gratitude for life and for what they have, and who give to others with joy.  We see on television or read in the paper about a sick child or an adult with a life-threatening illness, and we’re amazed that they show gratitude for special moments in life.  Perhaps abundance– rather than a measurable quantity of money– is an attitude that we can try out.

Perhaps gratitude is a practice, a way of looking, a point of view, a lens.  Through the lens of gratitude we can see our lives anew, and remember our connections to the world around us, to all of life, to all the gifts of life.

The abundance of life flows around us and through us.  We don’t own it; we are merely its keepers.  We’re the stewards of the gifts of this world.  The word steward comes from an Old English word that means the “keeper of the hall.”  We are the keepers, the temporary keepers.

Stewardship is about giving thanks for our gifts, tending them, sharing them, and —eventually—letting go of them.  Stewardship is about gratitude and relationship.

When money flows through our hands, it represents the abundance of life.  It represents the gifts of hard work and wise choices and good luck.  It represents the gifts of all the other lives that are connected to our lives, all the other beings that make your life possible.   Money reflects our inter-connection and inter-dependence.  It’s not the only thing that reflects inter-dependence, but it does reflect it.

Money is a gift that passes through us. The very first gift that passes through us—through each one of you you and through me–is life itslelf.  Our existence is a gift.  We are temporary keepers of our lives and all other gifts.  As much as possible, let us be joyful receivers and grateful givers of our gifts, and of ourselves.  May gratitude and joy bless our lives, and bless our world.  Amen.


[i] Money, Ministry and Stewardship:  Doing Better at All Three,” copyrighted address by Stephen C. Gray, June 1999, UU Ministers Association continuing education day and annual meeting, Salt Lake City

[ii] “The Joy of Giving, and the Pain of Falling Short,” by Steven Kreider Yoder, Isaac S. Yoder & Levi Yoder, Sacramento Bee, 2/7/2010, p. D6.  See several of his columns at http://topics.wsj.com/person/y/stephen-kreider-yoder/4321

http://topics.wsj.com/person/y/stephen-kreider-yoder/4321

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Vacation Summation: Maui

We stayed at a small hotel on Kihei Road, just across from a calm beach on West Maui.

The entire first day we drove the scenic highway to Hana, along the north coast, with dramatic views and changing vegetation, and a couple of hikes through bamboo and over rocks to see waterfalls.  We bought freshly-made pineapple, papaya, banana and cane-juice smoothies from a weathered German woman in a snack truck at a farm near one waterfall.  What happens to the cane stalks after she presses out the juice?  “Composting.  For the Goddess.”  Most spectacular views were down at the water’s edge on a peninsula, watching waves crashing on rocks and beach.

The second morning we took a snorkeling trip to Molokini coral reef (next to the crescent-shaped remains of a crater) and Turtle Arches, on tour boat operated by Pacific Whale Foundation.

The naturalist guides/crew members/food servers/bartenders were young, enthusiastic, and very on the ball–and busy!.  On the first dive I felt chilled in 70-degree water, even with the recommended wet suit top, and fretted that I’d give up early, even though the corals and colorful fish were fascinating and very cuddly in the way they swam close to me.  But time was going faster than I thought, and the hour was over.  Just as striking as the schools of fish was the sight of hundreds of humans (from numerous ships) bobbing close together, faces down, snorkels up.  On the ride to the next stop, a naturalist showed pictures of some of the sea life we’d seen, noting which fish had been characters in “Finding Nemo.”

The second of our two dives included an in-water tour by another naturalist, who would dive down and point out sea turtles, a small eel, and an octopus.  He brought up the brown octopus and held it near the surface so we could touch it.  Very cute–until it latches itself on your head and sucks your brain out!  One turtle swam and surfaced right in front of me before diving back to sit on the floor for an hour or so.   The most striking thing was to dive down a bit and listen to the singing of the male humpback whales.  I hadn’t imagined that you could hear it without special Jacques Cousteau equipment.

The ride back to shore featured hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, pasta salad, and a very open bar.  But the best part of the ride was whale soup–not on deck but in the water.  We saw many pods and individual whales–a few straight-up breaches, lots of flukes (tails) shown as they surfaced for air, and a long display of two whales rolling on their backs flapping dorsal fins (arms, I guess) in and out of the water.  A whale watch at no extra charge.

After a nap (was it the snorkeling, the drammamine, or the beer that tired me?), we drove up-island to Haleakala National Park.  Fortunately a naturalist recommended that we try to see sunset, rather than sunrise, which meant leaving at 3 PM instead of 3 AM to drive all 10,000 feet to the top.  My thanks to Aman for doing all the driving (Hertz charges an extra $65 for a second driver), especially the steep, winding road, which took us through clouds and various climates and landscapes.

At the summit, we hiked down into the crater a bit and back out–layers of dark red, brown, gray and green rocks made it seem like an unearthly landscape.   Back at the rocky top (whose clear air and high-up observatory equipment yield the 4th best astronomical views in the world, but the observatories weren’t open), we watched a long sunset over the ocean.  By then it was cold!  We had a late pizza and salad dinner at Flatbread in the mini downtown of Paia.  We sat close to the brick oven fire and I enjoyed the true ethos of the Hawaiian islands–I had no idea that all their other organic and funky sites are in Mass, NH, VT and Maine!

Lots of Mahi Mahi meals on this trip too.  Somehow we avoided the island favorite, Spam, but I pointed it out on the breakfast menu at a diner.  Aman is a computer programmer and the only kind of spam he’d heard of is that with a small s, not the Hormel brand of canned slabs of spiced, chopped ham.

On our last afternooon we visited the only town on the island with a true (and touristy) downtown, Lehaina.  It had several historic buildings and museums; we visited a whaling exhibit housed in the old court house and saw the banyan tree that takes up the full block of a downtown park–it looks as if it has several trunks but it’s all one tree (planted 1873).  We visited the charming little public library.  Lots of locals online and reading books, with one teenager reading a surfing book–in his trunks with a beach town on his shoulder.  Perusing the periodicals I read that big eye tuna is at risk of extinction due to overfishing–sushi lovers know it as ahi tuna!  A map on the wall showed that in the 2000 census there were about 250,000 Hawaiians on the Islands and another 150,000 or more spread out in all the other states.  I read elsewhere that 1 in 1,000 people speak native Hawaiian, but given the cultural renaissance of the last 30 years it’s expected that the proportion will have risen by the 2010 census.

Aloha!



Vacation Summation: Honolulu
February 25, 2010, 11:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Just flew back from Hawaii, and boy are my arms tired! Actually, it was the rest of me, but I think I’ve caught up on sleep now. Users of frequent flier credits can’t be choosy, so we flew back overnight Tuesday. I hadn’t realized that those airport employees who sell coffee at 6 AM actually have to get there at 4!
One night in Waikiki, on the Marina. Lovely views, including Friday night fireworks. Beach walk was crowded with high-rise hotels and US, Japanese and other tourists. But the purpose of going to Oahu was to visit the Pearl Harbor sites, especially the USS Arizona memorial shrine, which was built over the sunken ship itself. A small boat takes groups out to the site where the ships were moored. (We arrived at 7:45 and got tickets for the 10 AM tour! This gave plenty of time for visiting memorial displays as well as torpedos and other weapons to admire from different eras. The Arizona is a tomb for many of the sailors who died in it. In the crowds I saw and overheard only one elderly man who I think was in the war if not also serving at or near Pearl Harbor. I thought of my parents, who knew after 12/7/41 that war was going to happen. I thought of my Uncle Roger, a 20-ish Navy cook on a ship in the Pacific; I remember tales of large-scale holiday meals but not where he served. In his late 20s Dad was a doctor at a field hospital in Europe; he had some medals and a shrapnel scar on his front shoulder.
I also thought of my older brother, who gave me the idea to visit this site. He was born at the start of the post-war baby boom, and I at the end. We don’t have many interests and opinions in common, so this history is a rare and powerful connection for us as brothers.



Part 2: A Relative Outsider’s Perspective on Family Ministry Here
Part 2 of 2
Family Minister newsletter column for March
As I was saying…
The RE program cannot rely on me alone (even if I were competent)! It must rely on the cooperative leadership of the RE Committee and especially its chair, Jeannine, and many other lay leaders…like you.
You have more experience and knowledge than I do and have shown great patience and forbearance to me–and also have been willing to try some new things.  Our outgoing part-time RE Assistant, Janet, has worked beyond her job description and rate of pay to support our volunteers and me in this time of growth and change. She is stepping down from her staff role to resume life as a church volunteer.  We can look forward to her contributions in a leadership role now rather than a paid position that was designed as an administrative one.
Of course, the RE program relies fundamentally on the regular participation and attendance of children and their parents and the talented, creative and generous volunteer leaders in the classrooms, youth lounge, nursery, community garden, playground, worship services, social events, and so on.
In the coming months and in the next church year, we will need to see broader involvement by members and friends in UUSS Religious Education programs for children and youth.
What will this mean?
It will mean more contributions of time and attention by those with children in the program as well as by our stellar elders and middle-aged folks who come here unattached to children.
It will mean  improved regular attendance by our children and youth at the classes and other programs that staff and volunteers plan and provide for us.
It will be worth it!
Major change takes intention, vision and effort.
I do see that a new level of ministry to families, children and youth is within reach at UUSS.
Will you reach with me?


A Relative Outsider’s Perspective: The Ways You (and I) Have Grown in Ministry Part 1
Family Minister newsletter column for March
Part 1
This is the seventh year this congregation has had a second minister on staff.
Prior to that UUSS had been served by a full time professional Director of Religious Education.  A number of leaders asserted that a congregation of this size and level of activity needed more than one minister, in particular to help UUSS reach out to meet the needs of families with children.
When I was hired by the Board of Trustees in 2008, you all had just made a leap in funding to raise this position from that of “assistant” minister to the level of “associate” minister.  I had to dye my temples gray just to look worthy of it.  This position has stretched my abilities and caused me to learn new things about ministerial leadership and Religious Education.  It has given me the character-building experience of feeling not just overwhelmed but in over my head.  Fortunately not too many of you have caught on to me yet. I hope you find the following summary useful as you consider the past few years of experience with a second minister at UUSS.
My portfolio includes Child and Youth Religious Education (RE), Adult Enrichment, the Membership Committee (especially New Member Orientations), All-Ages Activities and the Task Force on Ministry to Families with Children.  In addition, I attend most of the monthly Board, Executive Committee, Program Council, and Steering Committee meetings.  I have weekly Ministry Staff meetings, RE Assistant meetings, Senior Staff meetings, All-Staff meetings.  I preach at least once monthly, among other roles I play in worship services.  I’ve led the search to recruit and hire a new child care provider, and we expect to hire more new staff soon. I have consulted with or participated in Social Responsibility programs, Stewardship and fundraising campaigns, the Alliance, and several other activities where I smell food cooking.  I’ve officiated at weddings here and in the local area.   I respond to hospital calls and other pastoral requests as much as I can, and I welcome families of all kinds to reach out to get acquainted and tell me how the church can be of help.  (I also am active in several volunteer roles in the local, Pacific Central District and denominational realms.)
Clearly, there is more ministry to do.  Doug works an average of 60 hours a week, sometimes more. I don’t want to know if I surpass him!
The RE program cannot rely on me alone (even if I were competent)! It must rely on the cooperative leadership of the RE Committee and especially its chair, Jeannine , and many other lay leaders…like you.

to be continued soon



2 changes in staff in Religious Education Ministries to Children & Youth
February 12, 2010, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Children and Youth | Tags:
1–Child Care Provider Position Will Change

To Room 11 families and the rest of the church family:
As you probably know, Childcare Provider Leeanna has been out for
some time now due to health problems. The Religious Education staff has
decided it would be best to hire a long term substitute to replace her for
the time being. If, at some point, a permanent position opens up, it would
be offered to the substitute. For now we will continue to recruit members of
the congregation to assist Miranda in covering room 11.  We will  continue to keep you
informed of any foreseeable changes in personnel in the Childcare room.

2–Janet Steps Down as Religious Education Assistant

by Roger  and Janet

Roger writes: Janet has resigned her position.  Say it ain’t so! I don’t know how I would have survived here the past 1 & 1/2 years without her knowledge, wisdom, and flexibility.  So many families and RE teachers and committee members appreciate her warmth and organizational gifts.  Please join me in thanking her as she makes this transition, since holding her against her will is against the law.

Fortunately, she’s not going anywhere.  As a longtime member and church parent, she seeks to return to civilian life as a member of the RE Committee.  She recognized that her level of interest and her vision for development of the program are larger than is permitted in the bounds of an administrative job for 12 hours a week.  She loves UUSS and wants to serve it as a leader, not a clerical staffer.

Soon we will hire a Religious Education Secretary for the program.  We also need to expand the size of the RE Committee, so we can have a coherent and reliable support structure for our volunteer RE teachers and the children and youth in our program. I asked Janet to write her views about the ongoing evolution of our RE program. Here is an excerpt.

Janet writes: In the past, there has always been a personality (Director of RE or Minister of RE) who has been the focal point for the RE program. She was always the ‘go to’ person for RE information and inquiries. However, this situation no longer exists. Roger’s role is not that of a Minister for Religious Education. His energies are much more dispersed. It is not appropriate for the RE Assistant to take that focal role as this position was created as an assistant for a DRE or MRE. That leaves the RE Committee and its chair to take on the role, but this has not been done at UUSS for at least the last 15 years. I believe that eventually there will be no one focus person for the RE program, but that all those previously mentioned will carry a part of the load. This will all, however, need time to sort out.



Feisty Finances: Sharing the Plate results: so far, so fabulous

This Sunday’s offering receipts will be shared with Sacramento Loaves and Fishes, which provides food, shelter, support services, and an elementary school for homeless adults and children in this area.  At our Sunday Public Forum, Feb. 14 at 1:00 PM, the Loaves and Fishes director of advocacy will speak to us about helping the homeless in our area.  Lunch snacks will be available for $3 after the end of our 11:15 AM service.

WHAT’S THIS ABOUT?

Every Sunday the congregation gives away half its offering receipts (i.e., other than gifts designated as payments toward a pledge) to a local organization doing important work to people in need or to a larger Unitarian Universalist one, like the UU Legislative Ministry in California. (We call them our Community Partners, and we have a different one every month.)

Last spring the finance committee and Board of Trustees raised the projected revenue from this source to be higher this fiscal year than last year.  Now, as we have come more than half way through the fiscal year, receipts are right on target with projections!  Pledge payments are also pretty close to projections and expenses are within budget.

The only cloud to this silver lining is that rental revenues have dropped a lot–fewer use of our facilities by outside organizations or individual renters, and some of the 3-bedroom duplex apartments we own have gone waiting for tenants.  (Not surprising:  Some of the units in the small apartment building where I live have been empty awhile.)

Grateful for the generosity that sustains this congregation and our community partners,

roger