Generosity: A Gift of the Spirit
A couple of months ago the United Church of Christ (UCC) Vital Signs and Statistics blog posted an article about generosity in the UCC. The basic point? Our congregations are generous.
For overall perspective, Rev. Elena Larssen wrote: “Non-profit organizations – including churches – are a quiet giant in the economy of the United States. In 2022, people gave $499,330,000.00…according to Giving USA and the Indiana School of Philanthropy.”
She then brought it to our denomination:
The 14 million [dollars] given to National includes both individual giving directly to the National Ministries and the nearly four million dollars forwarded from Conferences through Our Churches Wider Mission.
Not included? Ministry dollars given by members that run their Local Church…or Conference [our annual funding plan]; giving by congregations to local outreach and secular non-profits like the Heifer Project; Local Church fundraisers and capital campaigns…; donations to other national-level entities like Global Ministries...
Imagine the aggregate impact of all those gifts…image all the good that people do with those gifts…the United Church of Christ is a generous church!
Bringing Rev. Larssen’s examples of generosity to our Local Church here in Bellingham, we would name local outreach dollars to Interfaith Coalition and The Ground Floor space; Local Church fundraisers like solar panels and major maintenance reserves; donations to other national-level entities like Neighbors in Need and The Christmas Fund. In talking about generosity in the UCC, Rev. Larssen is talking about us.
In her article she noted something else we experienced: In 2022 philanthropic giving was down approximately 5% from 2021, and she notes: “This tracks conversations among pastors, who have anecdotally reported lower giving in the third year of the pandemic than in the first two, likely reflecting the number of local church members who give from invested or fixed income.” Sometimes I don’t like being “just like everyone else,” but this is an example of one way we haven’t escaped the typical. It doesn’t change that First Congregational UCC of Bellingham is a generous congregation.
In gratitude for this congregation’s faithful giving over the years, the Church Council is hosting a Breakfast Worship on Sunday, November 19. If you feel moved to bring a potluck addition, please do, but it is not necessary—we have so much gratitude for how First Congregational continually steps up and gives generously.
Thank you, and thanks be to God!
Mark Schofield, Moderator and Sharon Benton, Lead Pastor