Several weeks ago, lisa Miller's Washington Post column http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/the-generosity-of-t... addressed the relationships between generosity and religion. As we at UUCA consider how we each can support the church in the coming year, her research and observations are relevant. The theme of the column is that giving is about acknowledging our connections and shared responsibility.

To me, that's what stewardship is all about.

"Giving," she writes, "forces you to recognize...that you're responsible for other people....When you lay down your money, you say, 'This (church, child, environmental hazard) is my problem.'" She quotes Rabbi Sharon Brous: 'What draws people into relgious life is that desire to be more than you would otherwise be." Americans overall give between 2% and 3% of their income to charity, according to the Philanthropy Roundtable. Newt Gingrich, with an income of $3.1 million, gave 2.58% in 2010; Barack Obama, with an income of $1.7 million, gave 14% in that year. Mitt Romney gives 10% to his church alone. I don't make millions--not by a long shot--but I want to be more generous than Mr. Gingrich. And for me, UUCA is so much at the center of my life that it beckons me to support it more generously than I do other charitable causes or a lot of other aspects of my life.

I DID come to UUCA in the hope of becoming more than I would otherwise be. Rabbi Brous's assertion resonates with me. Does it with you?

We all have different reasons for becoming a part of this church community. Yet in talking with congregants over the past few weeks, I have heard a common theme about how the "values" of the church are important to us as individuals and to our community both within and outside of the church. I have also heard that most people want more from the church, not less. Well, if we WANT more....

These conversations are reinforcing for me the notion that our needs and our obligations are connected with one another's. They suggest that we know we have shared responsibility and shared opportunity to make a difference in the world. I believe that UUCA is worth committing to. I want to see this community grow in strength and in ability, not shrink. And I want to become a generous person. I want to be a steward of UUCA.

What does stewardship mean to you?

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Tags: Steward, connections, giving, stewardship

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Comment by John L. Bohman on March 27, 2012 at 10:42pm

We ask each other to be stewards of our faith community.  We express our generosity of spirit in both time and treasure; neither is a substitute for the other.  Our mutual support sustains us, and allows us to be the congregation we are becoming.  Our generosity expresses our commitment to the love that binds us together.  

       

Comment by Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith on March 15, 2012 at 9:45am

Thank you for this, Diane ... again, I affirm the importance of considering generosity relative to one's means rather than in terms of a dollar amount. The person who gives 10 percent of their $25,000 income is actually more generous than the one who gives three percent of $200,000, though the dollar amount on the latter is greater. I would point out that the root of "generous" is the same as gene, genesis, and genius, and has to do with the bringing forth of life. When we contribute in a generous way, we manifest things that we hope for, but cannot see in the present moment.

Comment by David McTaggart on March 13, 2012 at 4:44pm

Thanks Diane, for introducing me to Rabbi Sharon Brous. Take a look at her IKAR website at http://ikar-la.org/.  She offers much to learn about mission and online outreach.

Comment by Diane Ullius on March 13, 2012 at 11:57am
I love your formulations of the blessings coming "through" us, not "to" us--so I guess we need to keep those blessings moving along and through! Also, the idea of tracking volunteer efforts is a worthwhile one, and one that's been mentioned before. Of course, we'd need the (volunteer or staff) resources to do the tracking!
Comment by Melissa Nuwaysir Walls on March 12, 2012 at 9:02pm

I love that question.... what does stewardship mean to me?  It means that I recognize that resources and the blessings of the world come 'through' me not 'to' me; that in that sense, I have a responsibility to guide these resources well where they are most needed; and that, above all, I do not own such resources, even though I may like to think that I do.  If I could take away my own fears of not having enough or being enough or doing enough then I might really be able to embrace this concept more fully and give with near 'reckless' abandon (well, maybe not recklessly, but the sentiment is one of giving fully and abundantly from one's heart without worry or care).  I think another really good resource for this discussion would be Lynne Twist's book, The Soul of Money.  Lynne asks, what is enough?  How much do I really need in order to be/feel/have fully what/who I am?  Maybe the better question is, who would I need to be, or how would I need to be?  Enough on the philosophizing -- bottom line for me, I also would like to give 5% -- I recall that campaign of a non-profit organization many years ago: "Give 5" meaning give 5% of your money or your time.  When you factor one's time into this equation, I know that many of us are giving much more than 5% of our time to this beloved community.  Time is also a resource.  Time is also money, in a manner of speaking, isn't it?  I find myself getting into a bit of a circle here -- are we talking about time or money or both?  I think both.  Have we ever done an accounting of the volunteer hours that are donated to our church?  Wow, I be that would really be something -- I bet that would show tremendous wealth and commitment in our congregation.  I guess if we factor in all forms of wealth -- time, money, resources -- we'd be amazed by what we find.  I suppose stewardship is many faceted, for one must first recognize what is being 'received/held' or 'stewarded' in order to then 'give' of it responsibly.  I hope that I, too, will recognize more and more of the gifts that I receive and then learn to let them pass through me more generously and abundantly. 

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