When I first went to Burbank First United Methodist Church, in 1988, the pastor there, Larry Stamper, preached on the woman who gave two small coins to God, and Jesus remarked that she had given all. Larry said, “I figured if she had only those two coins, there were no men in her life at all. Not only had she lost her husband, she must not have had any sons, or uncles, or nephews, or even cousins who could support her. And I figured, in order for her to give all she had to God, she had to Forgive God For Her Life.” Tears ran right from my heart down my cheeks. I had not forgiven God for my life.
I went to that church faithfully for eighteen years. At the beginning, I took at least two dollars each time. If I couldn’t get $2 together, I didn’t go. I kept remembering what I had read somewhere in Scripture, where God said, “Do not come before Me empty handed.” (Ex 23:15& Deut 16:16). That first year, Larry sent letters asking people to consider tithing, to increase their offering, or to give special onetime gifts for the General Fund. His letter to me asked meto give 50% more! Wow! What a huge increase that would be! And then I figured it out: One More Dollar. I was thrilled to meet his request! I took $3 to church!
You all have gone above and beyond for our Capital Campaign, “Stepping Out in Faith.” We have raised the monies we need to pay for all our ‘facelifts’, so that people can See we are still alive and well. But it turns out we are falling behind in our regular giving; in our General Fund. Our payroll alone is over $7000 a month. Our income from tithes and offerings is around $4000 a month. I ask you, as Larry asked me, to increase your giving to the General Fund.
Our General Fund pays for our payrolls: me, Mimi, Dan, Chad, Marcia, Marji, Marsha, and any guest organist. Our General Fund pays for the utilities and upkeep of this gorgeous old building and parsonage. It is the rock beneath the Bible Studies, Children’s programs, Music programs, Youth work, Messy Church and all the new ministries we hope to do. It also pays for our connections to the larger UMC through shared ministries. That connection trained us for Messy Church, got us our new web-site, and will fund Readiness 360+.
- If you give online each month, do you know that Ezekiel takes a percentage and we don’t get it all? As an example, a gift of $500 has $15.30 taken out. Could you give another gift to make up that difference?
- If, like I did, you bring just a little bit, can you increase your giving by 50%?
- If you give once a month, can you bring a little something each week in addition?
- If you give a fixed amount each month, can you add even a dollar or two to your giving?
- If you give when you come, can you also give when you don’t come?
- Can you increase your giving to become a 10% tithe?
It was at the Burbank church that I forgave God for my life, and learned to forgive myself. It was at that church that I was called into the ministry. I tithe now, on the “gross.” I bring 10% of all the other monies I get: two small pensions, honorariums, etc. I also pay parsonage expenses, tho’ I just began that process. I try to bring something each week, so I “do not come before [God] empty handed. I rejoice in my life, now. And God richly blesses me, because of all of you, and this holy place.
Bardsdale Church is a beacon of light in the Santa Clara Valley. We are alive and well because of you. Thank you for not only “Stepping Out In Faith”, but for Stepping Up to Serve God, and for sharing your many gifts, at Bardsdale UMC, and in God’s “Mission Field” all around us.