I clearly remember my shock when I went to a Path to Membership class when I was 25, and was told that it was expected for members (me!) to give 3-5% of my income to the congregation. I was raised largely “unchurched”; this ask was unexpected, and I thought fairly ludicrous. I did, however, pause and think of a number (in the high $200s) that I thought was reasonable.
From there I joined the board, co-facilitated a covenant group, helped with our adult programming, counted and recorded the Sunday collection, and generally made it to the service just in time for the sermon. Eight months later, I quadrupled my pledge. I thought of each of the programs I went to and how valuable they were for me. How the Sunday services were worth more than the price of a movie ticket. How a comparable leadership development program would have set me back considerably. I thought this increased pledge was the best deal in town; but I was what I could do as I was sharing an apartment with two other women, was living on a starting salary and had five student loans that I was paying off. When the pledges came in short, the board president asked the trustees to lead the congregation’s generosity by increasing their own pledge. I increased it by another $200. In contrast to a year earlier, I felt proud and grateful.
Over the past 13 years, in thanks to that congregation I joined as a young adult, I have begun to walk a path of deeper generosity. I no longer apply a numerical value to each part of church life I consume, but rather I think about what it means for me to give, and why the institution or causes that I am giving to are worthwhile. In that process, I have become less fearful, more open-minded, more connected to others, less controlling, more humble and grateful.
For several years, my spouse and I have aimed to give 5% of our income to the congregation I serve. When I first came to All Souls, and I shared what this 5% dollar amount would be, Kent said, “That is too little; let’s give more.” So we did. Last year, Kent switched jobs, and our household income decreased by $50,000. Still we decided not to decrease our pledge to All Souls since our commitment to this community and mission had not changed.
As I like to say, I am “all in.” I hope that you are all in too. Not merely because you value your experiences at All Souls, or because you believe that our presence makes a unique and positive contribution to the life of our city, but because you too have seen how being financially generous has helped you lead a more whole-hearted life.
Now is the time to pledge your support of All Souls.
Thank you for all the ways that you give and that you show up.