Within the TJMC community, we honor the unique gifts that we each bring to the congregation. Some of us are gifted musicians, others are skilled at committee work. Some have ample financial means to support the work of the church, and others a surplus of time to devote to program activities. We attend meetings, volunteer from home, sing in the choir, cook for church events, and help weave worship. We find our unique place within the congregation, and use that as the starting point for transforming ourselves, the Unitarian Universalist faith, and the world.
And yet, as church members, we are asked to be present in our church community in all sorts of ways, beyond the ones that are most obvious for us. We are expected to be present at church on Sundays as often as we can, as this is the day when we gather most fully as one community. We have a responsibility to give our time and money as generously as we can. And we are asked to engage in congregational work that allows TJMC to thrive and be a strong presence and voice in the community.
At first blush, these seem incongruous. On the one hand we acknowledge that we occupy a unique place in our church family, and on the other, we are asked to be part of the full spectrum of church life. But this is how our church family, and indeed all families, work. This is what it means to be good stewards of TJMC’s future. This is what it means to be generous.
Those of us who are not versed in the language of stewardship might be tempted to horse-trade our church responsibilities, perhaps not feeling the need to make a financial contribution because we are active volunteers, or electing not to participate in church activities because we are able to make a particularly large pledge. However good stewardship sets the expectation that we be as generous as we can in both these areas, not one or the other. It is NOT required that we devote a certain amount of time or money to the church, but it IS expected that each of us makes decisions about our volunteer commitment and our church pledge independent of the other, and generously based on what the church means to us.
So make time at least once a year to evaluate what you are giving to the church in terms of your time and your financial support. Reviewing the latter is even more important now that we have enacted automatic renewal of our annual pledges, so the church knows as soon as possible if you are adjusting your pledge amount. This work is part of our role as good stewards of the congregation, so I’ll say it again; At least once a year, evaluate the amount of time and money that you are giving to support the church and make changes as necessary to accurately reflect what is generous for you this year. It’s essential to our health as a community.
Please feel welcome to get in touch with me as you make this decision. Email me or call me ([email protected]; 434-760-1346) if you have questions about your financial pledge level or how to make/adjust your annual pledge. Or if you want to volunteer but aren’t sure what kinds of opportunities fit your schedule or interests. Even if you have found it straightforward to establish the levels at which you are giving, I’d love for you to drop me a line to let me know what motivates you, and to share your stories about how our community touches the lives of its members, and lives beyond our walls.
The point is that Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church-Unitarian Universalist only thrives if all of us see ourselves as stewards of the church’s well-being and engage, engage, engage in church life. I’m all in, and I hope you join me in this commitment.
Adam Slate, President of the Board