BVUUF Makes a Difference! Members Speak: Wayne and Chris Itano, March 16, 2014
The Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Annual Pledge Drive is in full swing. You can pledge with a steward, at the Fellowship or online athttp://www.bvuuf.org/pledge-online-2014/ Throughout the drive, members of the congregation and their family members are giving testimonials as part of the chalice lighting on Sunday mornings to speak of the value of this faith community in their lives:
We have been coming to this Fellowship since 1987. Our first pledge was only $60 per month, $720 per year. We increased our pledge, year by year. We were complacent about the amount. I think we were above average. That changed when Reverend Catharine Harris announced from the pulpit that she and Dick were pledging $5000. We were surprised because we were pretty sure that our combined incomes were greater than theirs, and yet we were giving much less than that. Dick looked surprised, too. (Maybe he didn’t know she was going to make it public.) We challenged ourselves to match that amount, and we were eventually able to do it, and then to exceed it.
Chris and I are pledging just over $10,000 this year, over five percent of our income. We give about the same amount to other charities. This is called a Liberal Tithe – five percent to one’s church, five percent to all other charities.
Why give that much? If we were Christians, I would ask you to imagine yourself standing outside the Pearly Gates. You announce yourself to Saint Peter. He pulls out your income tax return. He looks up your adjusted gross income. He looks up your charitable contributions. He pulls out his abacus and divides one number by the other. Then he says, “Two percent. You gave two percent of your income to all charities combined (two percent happens to be the national average). Is that the best you could do?” Of course, we don’t believe in Heaven, Pearly Gates and all that.
So let me try another angle. Suppose you want to buy influence, maybe be President of the Fellowship for example. I’m afraid that making a big pledge won’t help. The Nominating Committee doesn’t know what you give, and even if they did, it wouldn’t matter. Even a direct bribe to the Nominating Committee wouldn’t help. (I don’t think it would.) Suppose you want to avoid being nominated to a high position. Well, that doesn’t work either. Remember our incorruptible Nominating Committee. You can’t buy your way out of serving the Fellowship.
OK, so making a big pledge won’t get you into Heaven, it won’t buy you influence, it won’t get you out of volunteering. So why give, or why do we give? We give, not until it hurts, but until it feels good. It feels good to be able to pay our staff well.It feels good that we can tell Katie to go ahead with her new vision for religious education. It feels good to operate in a climate of abundance rather than scarcity. As your next Treasurer, if elected, it would feel very good.Before I turn the mike over to Chris, I’d like to leave you with one last thought. If we were to exempt, from giving, all the young people just starting out, all the middle-aged families saving for college, for retirement, and maybe taking care of their parents, and all of the elderly, living 1 on fixed incomes, which nowadays aren’t really fixed, who is left?
This year as a steward, I have the pleasure of being able to meet with members of our Fellowship and get to know them better. Just this week I met with Connie Holden, who gave me a piece of wisdom to think about, and I think what she told me has relevance today. She doesn’t remember where she heard it, but she said that she has been thinking about what “afterlife” means to a Unitarian. To other people with other beliefs, “afterlife” means what will become of you after you die. Will you go to Heaven? Will you be reincarnated at a higher level of existence? Will you achieve a higher level of enlightenment? But for a Unitarian “afterlife” has more to do with the legacy that we leave. Wayne and I have been giving this a great deal of thought recently. The legacy that the Fellowship left to our children were the values that we shared with the Fellowship, two important ones were to be good to others and to try to make the world a better place. What a wonderful legacy to see our RE program teach these same values to so many other children. Our legacy is our children and their children, what we have done with our lives and what we can give of our finances. I wanted to share this with you because it has become an important thought for how we want to live the rest of our lives.