I don’t believe right.
I don’t think right.
I don’t talk right.
I don’t dress right.
I don’t look right.
I don’t vote right.
I don’t drink right.
I don’t play right.
I don’t laugh right.
And so, in churches across the country I, and people like me…
The ones who miss the mark
Who are not enough on their best days
And flat wrong on the rest of them.
The ones who color outside of the lines.
Who get sad when they read the Bible
And love Jesus… but in an, “It’s Complicated” kind of way.
We’re made to feel uncomfortable
We’re asked to listen quietly
We’re told that our sickness...our depression… our anxiety… our struggles are the outpouring of our errant thoughts and our backslidden ways.
From time to time, however, we slide into the backs of churches, each for our own reasons, self-flagellation, quiet, hope, frustration, boredom, nostalgia,
Sometimes just to share in the music and then leave.
But sometimes... occasionally... rarely… we slide into Trinity, or a church like Trinity.
We don’t feel like a new kid
A charity case.
Or even a guest.
No matter the words they use, their greeting says the same thing.
“We’ve been expecting you. We’re so glad you made it.”
I give to Trinity because if the lights go off here, how long will it be before I find a place to be confused about my faith. And how long before someone like me hears, “We’ve been expecting you. We’re so glad you made it.”
I grew up attending Church. From when I was too young to remember, I went to church - I participated in mid-week programs. My mom was Sunday School Superintendent, VBS Director, helped run the mid-week programs, and when our church started a preschool program, she volunteered so that my sister could attend the first year of classes, even though she was a year too young. Church is in my DNA. I don’t always remember the specific Sunday morning lessons, or every VBS I ever attended, but I remember spending hours at the church over the summer as my mom set up the classrooms for VBS, took inventory of classroom supplies, and laminated every name tag. From a very young age I understood what it means to give your time and talents to a church. And felt the community and friendships that form when you jump all in, and participate in all that you can. Many of my closest friends have been ones I’ve made through church - and I can say that’s still true today.
I also remember, getting little boxes, the cardboard boxes that you fold together on your own. And my Sunday school teacher said - now take this home, and collect coins, and after a few weeks, bring it back in, and we’ll see how much our class collected. A popular one when I was growing up was collecting coins for Heifer International. All the Sunday school classes would have coin boxes, we’d collect our money and buy someone a goat, or a pig, or chicken.
And as I got older, I realized that churches didn’t only collect money to give people in other countries livestock. I started noticing that once a month, during worship, my mom would put an envelope in the offering - my family’s monthly tithe. And I learned from confirmation class what it means to tithe. And my mom talked to me and explained that our family tithes - and that it was important to her - and that even though my dad doesn’t attend church, he supports my mom’s decision to tithe. Even in 2008 when my Dad lost his job, we still gave. And my mom made sure that my sister and I knew that. That even though we didn’t know how long our savings would last us, or how long it would take for my dad to find a job, we would still give to church. The church was a second home for me and my sister- it gave us friends, and family. It was our place, our safe-haven. And so we do our part to support its financial needs.
I give, because the church is my family. It’s a relationship, and like any relationship, it takes two. I have to do my part to support and care for it.
But that’s not the only reason I give to Trinity. When I was in college, I learned a lot about leadership. Leadership styles, how to empower volunteers, mentoring teens, and one lesson that is so simple, but is always in the forefront of my mind, is leading by example. I even took a few psychology classes and developmental psychologists talk about how much children learn by looking to the examples of others. As leaders, if we are asking others to follow us, we must lead by example. And I don’t just mean paid staff, or even just the leaders on Governing Board. Trinity is blessed to have many volunteers, so many people that are willing to serve and lead by example when called upon. All of us, whether we are paid leaders, ushers, greeters, kitchen or maintenance volunteers, are leaders and can make a huge impact when we lead by example. So leaders, if we are asking the congregation to consider increasing their giving, we should also increase our giving. If you gave to Trinity last year you will remember that Ryan had asked everyone to consider increasing their giving commitment by 3%. So I went home and looked at my budget and said, yup! I can do that! This year we are hoping to increase our giving commitments to be be able to allocate money from our budget for our Caring Fund, a ministry I work closely with in the office. And so this year, before I fill out my estimate of giving card for 2019, I’ll be looking over my personal finances to see how I can help Trinity.
Because Trinity is not just my job, it is my place of community and connection, and I want to support our ministries and our building with my time, talents, and financial contributions.
--Melissa Kramer, Director of Congregational Ministries
Pastor Tracey asked me to say a few words about why Mike & I tithe....Since I have attended this church for some 20 years, I don't really think about why I tithe...I just do. But as with a lot of Pastor Tracey's sermons - I really thought about this question.
Did you know the bible mentions money over 800 times!?! I guess I should think about it more. In Deuteronomy it states to give 10% by the law and Matthew tells us so where your treasures are your heart will be there also.
We all know part of our tithing goes to building utilities, restoration, improvements and general upkeep - not very glamourous. But then I thought of the thousands of people that have come thru our doors (which by the way have been recently restored) and sit in these pews to worship or participated in our many programs - their lives were blessed in ways we will never know. Our tithes supported that and I think that priceless! Another piece of that is our staff - Trinity has been beyond blessed with staff that keep our ministries vital and alive with the spirit. They work tirelessly to support us and keep the church going.... this support is invaluable to me.
Some of the things I find most exciting about tithing are the many ways it's used to help people - not only in our church but also the community. Our caring fund is one example - not only has it helped build a ramp for a church member in need, but it has been used regularly to help individuals from Brianna’s Hope and Home with Hope who do small jobs at the church and are given food cards or rental assistance in return. This has given them a new hope and sense of purpose - just to have someone believe in you. It's exciting to see our tithes used in this way.
There are many programs Trinity does with our tithes that reach out and support our neighbors and community...Jubilee, B2SB, F2F the community garden and many more.... All these things plus so much more happen here at Trinity. We are an amazing faith community! I feel blessed and honored to be a small part of that and as I look out at all your familiar faces - I am assuming you feel the same. Tithing is more than a responsibility, it is a privilege, more than an act of obedience, it is evidence of our faith.
So I am going to leave you with the same thought provoking question Pastor Tracey asked me....Why do you tithe??
--Susie Riley, Finance Administrator for Trinity UMC
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