Very soon, you will be receiving a letter asking for a pledge to help support the church. And believe me, none of us really like having to put the money side of our organization in the forefront--but put it forward we must. As a UU church, we are entirely responsible for out material well being. No funds are forthcoming from the UUA or from any sources other than those we are able to create ourselves. Equally, we do not ask for a "tithing"--a specific amount related to your income. That makes your contributions to the well being of the church essential. In that light there are two things I would like you to consider.
First, your pledge and your weekly contributions to the collection plate are not necessarily the same thing. For the fiscal health of the church to be strong, we need to have a fairly clear idea of what we can count on in the way of contributions. This arises from your yearly pledge. and from this, the foundation of the budget is created. Pledges allow us to plan for the year to come. In a sense, your pledge is to the organization as a whole, and a way to show your commitment to the material well being of NCCUU.
Now, though you may choose, of course, to "amortize" your pledge each Sunday by adding it to the collection plate, I ask you also to consider that what we receive through your weekly offerings, though estimated as part of the budget, is not predictable. This is as it should be: some weeks you may feel flush and offer $20 and other weeks only $1--It is your choice, as it should be, but not something the board can count on.
At any rate, I urge to to think of these two ways we give to the church as separate things. One helps us create the foundation that keeps our fiscal health strong (yearly pledges), the other allows us to "paint the rooms" so to speak. With your pledge, you support the building and the community as whole. With your weekly offerings, you support everything that happens on Sunday. I urge you to be generous with both.
Secondly, I suggest that you to think of your giving as a spiritual practice. Any spiritual practice is at least in part about challenging ourselves to do more, push ourselves further, and to explore our limits by extending them outside our comfort zone. As well, part of our spiritual practice needs to embrace and support the community that supports us as we pursue our spiritual journey. The love we take is equal to the love we make.
So please consider both your pledge and you weekly offering carefully and be generous. Help us to continue to do good works for one another and for the greater community around us.
Peace and energy
Back in the good ole' days, a 3500 mile road trip was a walk in the park, and might take slightly more than 2 days of nonstop driving time.I remember once jumping my trusty '64 Volvo and driving non-stop from Portland, Maine, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a two day visit, and then heading straight back. Both directions in snowstorms.
Now-a-days, 6 hours is more than enough, and a good day is 4-5 hours with plenty of rest stops for the uptake and elimination of fluids. And on this trip, that is what we did. We had brief visits with a bunch old friends, some too brief, some too long. We had a couple of 2 night lay-overs that proved more than just a passing hello. But for more time than not, our waking hours were spent sitting side by side; Sarah navigating, knitting, trying to find radio stations that we could tolerate. Me driving and wondering how long I could last until the next rest stop. Both of us being somewhat mesmerized by just being away, alone together, and on the road.
We didn't solve any big problems, confront any big issues, or even have any significant spats. We didn't reconnect with one another, having not been unconnected. Nope, we just sat in the same place, side-by-side, no agenda, for most of two weeks with only miles to cover to reach our destination. And that was the point.
There is perhaps no better way to remember how important someone is to us as when we do nothing together. To exist in the comfort of one another's presence without the pressures of home or work or money is a gift to any relationship, and the kind of gift that it is all to hard to find the time to create. I recommend it.
And I thank you for giving me this opportunity with Sarah. Being with her, having time to just drive and let things be (meditation without the incense), and visit with old friends, all these things have given me some new energy and a whole host of new ideas of things to share with you, both personally and from the pulpit.
Thanks again and see you in church!!!
Rev. Ben Fowler
On this page I will occasionally make entries which will speak to the good works of the our church, to the spirit of our members or just to make observations about the nature of the spirit and life as I see it. Please make comments and add your own thoughts.