11 May 2017

Put Your $$ Where Your Faith Is

I want to take a moment to brag on Grace UMC. Our church is known as a missions-oriented place. There are abundant opportunities here to serve God's people in our local community and around the world. It is one thing to say we believe serving others is important; it's a better thing to do it. One of my favorite verses is James 1:25: "But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-- they will be blessed in their doing." So thank you to the folk here who serve in a hands-on way: Share: Taking It to the Streets brings food directly to those in our area who are hungry. We have members who volunteer with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and Grand Central Station. Our monthly Legal Clinic will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. And as we come near to the end of a school year we received a note from the Wakefield Elementary staff thanking us for partnering with them through mentoring, reading, and donated supplies.


We also give money to support vital missions. Last Sunday for our communion/Bean Pot offering we received over $1000 for Blue Sunday, supporting kids in foster care in Grayson County. Check out our other Bean Pot offerings this year:

  • January: Grayson County Habitat for Humanity $435
  • February: Child and Family Guidance Center $405
  • March: United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR; disaster relief): $860
  • April: Sherman Interdenominational Ministers Alliance (SIMA): $413. This money is used for Thanksgiving baskets, scholarships for local kids, and emergency needs

On Christmas Eve we received an offering to benefit Syrian refugees through the global ministries of the United Methodist Church. We raised over $800. None of these funds are provided through the budget. This is extra giving, beyond what we contribute in the plates or online each week. Thank you for your generosity.

Our annual church budget has funds built into it to help others. Recently I have used money in my Pastor's Discretionary Fund to help three Grace households with rent (about $1200 total, some of which was helped by a family contribution and a gift from one of our Sunday school classes). Our Missions Board has dispensed two $1500 gifts to support local efforts. Family Promise of Grayson County is a new ministry to homeless people, which allows families to stay for a week at a time in various partner churches (four times a year) while they seek permanent housing. The other gift was for Wakefield Elementary, for their new playground. And of course through the connectional nature of our denomination a portion of our giving (roughly 8-10%) is distributed to various regional and international ministries. Thank you.

All of these gifts, and so many more, are possible because Grace families see real needs, hear the call to respond, and do so with generous hearts. This should make you feel proud. The good kind of pride, the one exhibited through humility. Following worship one of our members pulled me aside. He had a $2 bill he planned to contribute to the communion offering. But after hearing the sermon, seeing a video for Blue Sunday, and hearing Christy's words encouraging folk to give, he put away the $2 bill and gave a $10 bill. I suspect many others gave more than they planned at the beginning of the day.

Talking about money in the church can be uncomfortable for some. We'll have families who will consciously decide to worship elsewhere or remain home during our stewardship campaign this Fall. But when we do not discuss Christian approaches to giving we give in to to the overly materialistic nature of our society, which says what we have should only be used for ourselves. We also rob ourselves of an opportunity to say "thank you" to God, who provides all we have to live a full life.  When we join a church, we pledge to support it with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Thank you for the many ways you fulfill all of those commitments-- especially your giving!

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