Why two MSUS members make pledges to MSUS and encourage others to do the same.
Katie and Byron Johnson are this year’s pledge drive leaders. Katie spoke in the April 2 Sunday services to kick off the pledge drive. Here’s what she said:
Fifty years ago, a small group founded this church and began writing this story. Although Byron and I have not lived much of that story, we’re grateful that those who came before us committed themselves again and again to supporting MSUS.
We were part of the story two years ago when we, as a community, took a risk by asking for a full-time minister during our ministerial search. One year ago we voted unanimously to call Rev. Laura to join our community as that minister. In October we formally installed Rev. Laura as our minister – thus concluding two years of transition and diving fully in to the next chapter of our story. Listen to the words spoken by our congregation at Rev. Laura’s installation ceremony:
We, the members of Michael Servetus Unitarian Society, install you, Laura Smidzik, as minister of our congregation. We celebrate this congregation's call to joyfully welcome all, create a sanctuary for growth and wholeness, and unite to serve others and create justice on earth. … Know that we count ourselves as partners in shared ministry and will support you.
Later in that service, Reverend Victoria Safford encouraged us with these words:
I charge you to honor your history and the best way to do it is to set your sights squarely on the future. Honor your past, tell your beautiful story, and write the next chapters in a bold hand. Pour your heart, mind, soul, and strength into what happens next.
So here we are, several months into the “what happens next” part of this chapter.
We’ve all been striving to build the partnership that we promised; we’re pouring ourselves into that task in all the various ways that reflect our individual strengths and yearnings.
And now it’s pledge drive time, when each of us must reflect on whether we are doing our financial part to fulfill the vision that we laid out for our community, and the responsibility we took on.
Last Sunday there was a hearing on next year’s budget. We learned that if our total pledge income remains flat, we will have to spend $55,000 of our investment income to help cover next year’s operating expenses. We can be grateful that we have the reserves to do that, but that’s an extraordinarily high amount compared to prior years, and it’s unsustainable in the long run. So we must increase our pledged income if we are to preserve our savings for future initiatives.
We are kicking off the pledge drive today. Pledge drive packets will be available in the fellowship hall after services today (April 2) and next week (April 9). Please return your pledge commitments by April 30.
(Rev. Laura, being new here, interrupted to ask what a pledge packet is, so I had to explain.)
What’s a pledge drive packet? It’s an envelope like this. If you are a member, or you pledged last year, the envelope will have your name on it. The packet contains a letter from me and Byron as pledge drive leaders – it’s different from what I’m saying here so you’ll want to read that. You’ll also find a page with eye-catching color graphics. One side has pie charts and words describing our income and expenses, and the other side is the Fair Share Giving Guide. This guide can help you set your pledge amount based on your financial circumstances and how committed and connected you feel to this community. Finally, there is a blue or green pledge card for you to fill out - this is what you need to return by April 30. DON’T FORGET TO DO THIS PART!
We know this is a delicate dance, this discussion of financial support. Most of us feel awkward talking about it. But we must ask, each of you, to give this idea of financial stewardship of OUR community a new round of thoughtful consideration – what is your obligation of support as members, what are the gifts you receive as part of this community, what are your dreams for the impact this community can have? We believe that if you reflect on these questions, you can find a pledge amount that you can joyfully commit to.
I close by sharing why Byron and I give to MSUS, why we agreed to lead this pledge drive.
We started coming to MSUS 7 years ago, completely new to Unitarian Universalism and knowing nobody here. Over these 7 years we have grown into the community, finding friendship, insight, comfort, challenge. We give to MSUS because we have received these gifts from MSUS.
But we give for reasons that reach far beyond what we receive. We give because we want people who are seeking to be able to find this community like we did. We give because we want this community to be a home for as many people as possible regardless of their circumstances. We give because we are convinced that Unitarian Universalism can be a positive force in the world. We give so that we are not in this alone. We give because this community has been here for us in difficult times, and we’ve seen many others buoyed up by this community during their hard times, and hopefully we’ve been part of that support system for some of you. MSUS has become our beloved community. We joyfully give our financial support to help ensure that MSUS can keep giving all these wonderful gifts for another 50 years.
It is our hope that you all come to feel the same joy that we do when we pledge our financial support to MSUS.