All of our lives get busy, including mine. I have struggled all week to write my own thoughts on the topic of over-consumption and its effects on charitable contributions. Once again I must thank and acknowledge, Rev. Michael Piazza (Liberating Word: a ministry of The Center for Progressive Renewal) for saying it best. This is from his on-line devotional for October 27, 2014. I added the underlining and larger text for emphasis.
Like many churches in America, Virginia-Highland Church is in the midst of a stewardship campaign. Because this is a church that is just coming back from a near-death experience, this is a very important time for us. We finally have made it to a point where we have people doing ministry, and the pews feel used, if not yet full. Music fills our sanctuary, as do laughter and the sounds of children. It is beautiful.
We are a congregational church, of course. What that means is that the members make the ultimate decisions for the church. This stewardship campaign is the real vote, though. It will decide if we will fulfill God’s vision for our church. Voting in a meeting is free, but the vote that really counts is if we are willing to put our treasure where our heart is.
Recently, one of my favorite shows on NPR was canceled. The reason was that people didn’t give money to keep it on the air. The Georgia Shakespeare theater company was forced to close after nearly 30 years. The Atlanta Symphony is on strike because the board feels they need to reduce the number of musicians. Charities that care for the homeless and poor cease operations every day.
I’m teaching an online stewardship course for the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ. The class is full because churches everywhere are struggling. There are a variety of reasons why people are giving less and, therefore, why less good is being done in the world. There are a lot of reasons, but the main one is that people have decided to be consumers rather than philanthropists. Corporations are making record profits, but nonprofits and churches are closing. There are lots of reasons for that … are you one of the reasons?
Thank you Rev. Piazza, for asking the right questions. May we all consider them as we ponder our commitment and calling to do the work of Jesus Christ through the ministry of People’s United Methodist Church, South Thomaston, Maine.