Thoughts on Stewardship – January 2017

In November, shortly after the election, I wrote a piece on my blog about one way of responding to the events leading up to, and which will most certainly follow on, the election of Donald Trump.  A great many organizations — well-known and well-respected organizations, as well as more recent “start-ups” — have stepped up their requests for donations to help them do their work.  Many of us have been responding to these requests.  And this is good — these organizations are doing important work.  In my post, though, I passed on something that a colleague, Julica Hermann DelaFuente, had posted on her Facebook page (written by someone I do not know, Mateo Guadalupe):

“[T]he thing is, there are already brilliantly strategic, robust, multi-pronged efforts being led by those most impacted by this regime of white supremacy. People of color, especially black women & queer folks, have been leading the fight to dismantle racism and white supremacy ALL ALONG. This s**t might be new to you, my blue state comrades, but this has been the lived reality for a lot of people for a long long time.

Please reconsider where you are placing your coins and energy right now. POCs already have the solutions and the strategies to win liberation. FUND THEM. INVEST IN THEM.

Give money to Black Lives Matter. Give money to black & brown lead resistance in red states, like Southerners On New Ground and SisterSong. Give money to latinxs leading the fight against deportations like Trans Queer Pueblo and Not1MoreDeportation. Fund platforms for black brilliance & critical thought like BYP100 and Echoing Ida. Support a radical funder like Third Wave Fund. This is a time for you to LISTEN to people of color, FOLLOW our lead, and INVEST in our liberation. If you are considering where your financial contributions might best serve the needs of this time, please consider one of these organizations.  Supporting the organization is, in and of itself, contributing to the cause.

Another option is the Safety Pin Box.  The brainchild of Marissa Jenae Johnson and Leslie Mac — two women of color (one of whom is a UU), well known in the activist community — the Safety Pin Box is a subscription “service,” if you will.  As their website explains, each month you receive “A physical “safety pin” box shipped to you with guided ally tasks for the month. Tasks will vary in scope from individual to group assignments, and task categories include data collection, personal development, influencing your networks, and showing radical compassion.”  For those white folks who want to know what they can do to be an “ally,” the Safety Pin Box offers concrete answers.  Additionally, a portion of the proceeds will be given back out in the form of grants to, again quoting the website, “Black women/femmes doing any work towards the liberation of Black people …”  Subscriptions aren’t cheap, but neither is the work of liberation, and this is not a charity but a business which is intended to support Marissa and Leslie to help them continue their important work.

Last, but not least, there is another organization that deserves our support — Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist.  We’re used to thinking of TJMC as the place where we go on Sundays for moving and meaningful worship and religious education; the place where we can be sure of receiving pastoral care and spiritual support; the place where we can become part of a small group to develop the kind of deep relationships that are so hard to find these days; the place where we’ll meet like-minded people.  And, yes, it is all that, but perhaps even more importantly in our current cultural climate, TJMCUU is the local outpost of a religious movement that changes lives and could well change the world.  Our Unitarian Universalist faith is uniquely positioned to respond to the needs of today because we, at our best, model a kind of inclusiveness that is sorely lacking in the country and the world.  And when we gather together the diverse community we are, we gather not as “neighbors,” but as “family.”  And the world needs our family — our elders and their often hard-won wisdom, younger adults with their convictions, children and youth with their optimism and the hope for the future which they embody.

If you have already pledged financial support for the 2016-2017 church year … thank you … and please consider increasing that pledge for next year.  (You could even increase your pledge for this year!)  If you haven’t made a financial pledge because your situation doesn’t allow for it, that is understandable – not everyone has the financial resources to do more than keep a roof over the head and food in the belly.  But you still can pledge something — your time, your expertise, your experience.  TJMC needs those resources, too. Yet if you haven’t pledged because you just haven’t gotten around to it, haven’t really thought about it, or don’t know what it means to make a financial pledge, our website has all the resources you need.  (The FAQ includes a link to a UUA resource to help you determine what would be a “fair share” amount, ranging from 2% – 10% of your annual income.)

“Stewardship” has to do with taking care of one’s resources.  You are a steward when you consider where to invest your time, talent, and treasure.  The staff and lay leaders of TJMC take seriously their role as stewards of our congregation’s resources, including our vision of the world we would like to see.  And we will do everything we can to invest those resources in ways that will make a real difference in the lives of our members, the wider community, our country, and the world.  Help us to do that.  Be a part of doing that.

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