Generosity: not so ludicrous after all

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.

With love,

Rev. Anastassia