Craig’s Corner 2019 July

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. – Matthew 6:1-4

Don’t talk about money!

That’s one of the first things I was told when I served my first historically-Japanese church.  “Don’t talk about money.”  The impression was that a pastor who is talking about money is looking for a raise.  And while there might be pastors out there looking for a quick buck, I don’t know of any myself.  Most of us could have been doing something else if lining our pockets was at all important.  Before I became a pastor, I was working as a marketing professional for a major financial institution.  I was making about as much then as I am now and that was over 15 years ago.  If money was my driving motivation, I would not have chosen this profession.  Instead, I feel like this profession chose me.  It’s my calling and I feel blessed to serve our community.

But talking about money is an important aspect of our responsibility as pastors.  God calls us to be good stewards of our gifts and graces.  And helping us to talk about HOW to be good stewards is something a pastor should be doing on a regular basis.  Not because he or she “wants more money” but because stewardship is a spiritual discipline.  Fancy words, right?  It just means that how we look at and how we give of our gifts and graces can help us to draw closer to God and to be more Christ-like.  Just like we talk about prayer and worship and fasting and reading our Bible, pastors should talk about stewardship, too.  

So in light of that responsibility, I would like to challenge us to think of giving in ac different way.  Currently, when we give to the church in honor of someone or in honor of some event, we publish the names of all those who gave.  Thankfully, we don’t publish the amounts next to the names also, although some churches do that.  They feel they are encouraging people to give more often and more generously.  But for me that smacks too much of shaming people into giving and there is no more sure way to discourage people than to shame them.  But even just publishing the names of donors is a way of shaming others.  “I cared enough to give.”  But maybe others cared, too and couldn’t afford it?  Maybe others are already giving what they can?  The point of giving isn’t for recognition but for building up the kingdom of God.  And like it says in the passage from Matthew, we give in secret because only God in Heaven needs to know what we are doing.  

In that vein, I would like us to simply stop publishing gifts “in honor of” someone or something in the newsletter.  We discussed this in Council last month and I shared with them what I’ve shared with all of you.  We don’t give to get.  We give to live.  We give out of the abundance of gratitude we hold in our hearts.  And while we do want to be grateful for the gifts we have received as a church, we already send out a big thank you note once a year with your annual giving statement.  We are talking about making that thank you more personal and/or more encompassing, but in the meantime, we plan to stop publishing “in honor of” gifts.  We talked about perhaps just publishing a thank you to everyone who donated “in honor of” someone or something so that others know they have that option, but again that leads to recognition and away from the meaning of giving.  

I do believe in recognition.  I think any of you who have been in church this past year with me know I have not been shy in recognizing people for their hard work, dedication, selflessness, and kind spirit.  We’ve also celebrated milestones with those in our congregation such as weddings and graduations and we will continue to do so.  But we do those things together as a church.  That’s why we do love offerings instead of sharing a list of names of people who contributed.  A love offering allows people to give what they want or what they can afford while still being part of the greater whole.  When we give a gift on behalf of the church we are not seeking recognition for ourselves in any way, but instead offering recognition to the one who is receiving it.  Some of you might feel like you want to offer a more personal gift and that’s great!  I would encourage that!  Give what you can to the love offering we have at church, and give your own personal gift to the person as well.  

How do YOU feel about all of this?  I would appreciate your feedback about not publishing the names of “in honor of” gifts or the gifts themselves.  I want to know what is on your mind.  Perhaps you have a perspective I’ve never considered.  Perhaps you have some historical wisdom about why we do it that has a more meaningful background.  Perhaps you just have something you want to share or you want to offer your support.   All of it is meaningful and all of it will be listened to.  Thank you!

Oh, and I’m so curious about who reads our newsletter.  If you’ve read this, would you please come up to me and simply say the words “bubble puppy.”  Then I’ll know.  

Peace in Christ,


90th Anniversary is Coming – And We Can Use Your Help

This year marks the 90th anniversary of Berkeley Methodist United Church!  And we plan to celebrate our past together as we prepare for the future.  We are planning a two-day celebration of God’s ministry at BMUC on October 12 and 13.  October 12 will be a celebration lunch with a keynote address by Bishop Grant Hagiya and October 13 will be a special worship service as we envision moving forward into the next 90 years.

Since the celebration lunch is going to be such a huge effort, we would love your help!  If you feel called upon to help us plan the event, we have a number of areas we can use help including set up and clean up, decorations, favors, catering, etc.  Just email Rev. Craig ( and let us know.