You’re going to be hearing a lot from me and others this month about our pledge drive, during which we ask for your pledges in order to be able to create our budget for the next fiscal year. And it’s important to remember that our annual budget it not just a series of numbers with some words next to them. A congregation’s budget is a moral document that lays out how we are living into our purpose, with each other an in the larger community. What those numbers, what your pledges translate into is the support of our entire community.
Last Sunday, when the children and youth were asked what they needed to survive, they answered “love” and “truth”. We are teaching people how to care deeply for each other and be good listeners; how to help facilitate and guide safe, loving spaces for learning about ourselves and each other; and also what worship is about and how we create it, over and over again. We are also a fair and equitable employer that lives into a vision of economic justice. All of that is just a taste of what your pledges bring about every year.
I’ll be sharing a lot with you from Henri Nouwen this month, here and beyond the Communicator, but possibly not from a source with which you’re already familiar. Many of his teachings around money and communities were collected in a book called The Spirituality of Fundraising. He interrogates our dominant culture’s taboo around discussing money and how and when we choose to share it and spend it. For Nouwen, Giving and generosity to a religious and spiritual community is one of the most important things we can do, because we are aligning our resources with our shared ethical values and living out our commitment to our moral compass.
He also says that fundraising is one of the fundamental ways we build relationships and communities: “People have such a need for friendship and for community that fundraising has to be community-building. […] We have something to offer–friendship, prayer, peace, love, fidelity, affection, ministry with those in need–and these things are so valuable that people are willing to make their resources available to sustain them. Fundraising must always aim to create new, lasting relationships. […] Just as the work of building the community of love asks us to be converted in our attitude toward money, so also this same activity invited each of us to greater faithfulness to our personal call, our unique vacation. Our own call must be deepened and strengthened as a result of our fundraising.”
As the month passes, we’ll be talking a lot about our dreams for next year and beyond, and how our budget can help us focus on our relationships with each other and what it means to be a truly caring community. And a huge part of that is your own calling as a Unitarian Universalist. What brought you to us, whether it was fifty years ago or last week? What led you to stay with us? How have we changed your life? And, possibly the most important question of all: how have we enabled you to change someone else’s life?
As Canadian UUs, we have five aspirations that help us grow. We aspire to be deeply connected, radically inclusive, actively engaged, theologically alive, and spiritually grounded. And we can’t make any of those a reality without your help. There is no pledge too big, and there’s absolutely no pledge too small. It takes everyone to make First UU Winnipeg a reality.