Craig’s Corner 2020 August

What does giving mean to you?

Giving is a central tenet of our faith.  Not because “the church needs money” but because giving is part of our faith and trust in God.  More than the amount we give (re: The Widow’s Mite), it’s really about our heart for giving.  As Paul wrote to the church in his letter to Corinth, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7).”  We’re going to explore that during the month of August as we challenge ourselves what it means to give.  

I hope we truly will embrace the challenge, not only in our personal giving to BMUC but more importantly to our heart for giving and letting go of the fear of not having enough.  Back in April when the pandemic was first hitting us, Jamie Fukumae (our Stewardship Chair) recommended we apply for the Payroll Protection Program.  I was very hesitant.  Although ANY organization could use the money, we weren’t desperate.  We had (and still do have) over $400,000 in our accounts in liquid or near liquid cash.  That’s on top of what our folks give.  And although we have been running in a deficit for years, we have been fortunate to have forward-thinking progenitors who built up our funds for a rainy day – and boy is it raining!  So we weren’t in any danger.  But I approved it and told Lindsay Hiratzka (our Board Chair) that if we were fortunate enough to receive one of the grants, we could discuss what to do with it then.

Well, that day has arrived.  We received $17,734.75 from the government to help cover payroll costs during the pandemic.  This wasn’t a reward based on merit.  It was simply our good fortune (and being fortunate enough to have someone like Jaime who knew the ins and outs of where to apply).  But as more and more stories started popping up in the news about organizations who applied for the PPP and didn’t need it (i.e. Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Buca di Beppo, Omni Hotels), those hesitations I first experienced popped up once again.  Sure we could use it – who couldn’t?  But maybe we should do something different.  

“But business owners not measurably impacted by COVID-19 should forswear this “free money.” If your business doesn’t need to fire or furlough any employees during the next few months of the COVID-19 outbreak, then you should leave the money for those truly in need. And the need will be great.” – USA Today, 4/10/20

I proposed to the Council of Ministries (our Board) that we donate an equal amount of what we received away – specifically to support the Black community.  In our stand for social justice, if we are going to say as a community that Black Lives Matter, we need to do more than just put up a banner.  We have to help ensure that Black lives DO matter!  One way to do that is to support the Black community financially.  Rev. Staci our District Superintendent offered some great suggestions – offer a scholarship to a Black student, give a helping hand to a Black-owned business, or even support a predominantly Black church.  We have two UMC’s close by – Downs Memorial UMC and Taylor Memorial UMC, both predominantly Black and both with wonderful pastors I’m honored to call colleagues and friends.  We also have St. Paul’s AME Church right down the street – and if you know Methodist history, there is a sad reason the AME split from the Methodist church all those years ago.

Our Board with the help of our Missions Committee is working on how and how much we should give toward these efforts.  I’m grateful for the hard work our leaders have put in and hope you will join me in supporting our church’s efforts toward backing up our belief that Black Lives Matter!  

Join us this month as we challenge ourselves to give from our hearts out of love and not fear.  Help us to overcome the impulse to hold onto our money and instead embrace giving as a way to not only help bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth, but to help bring us closer to God.  May God strengthen us all.  

Peace in Christ,