Our members know how important their involvement is to the future of the church and to fulfill the church’s missions.
Here are a few thoughts about stewardship from our congregation.
Love God and Care for Your Neighbor
I’ve been a member of Windsor UCC since April 18, 1982. More than 36 years.
What has kept me at this church for so many years? It’s been the consistent message: love God and care for your neighbor.
In Matthew and in many other places in the bible, Jesus commands us to love the Lord your God with all your and heart, and your neighbor as yourself. Sermons consistently tell us of God’s love, generosity and forgiveness. Our worship services give us the opportunity to praise God and give thanks for our many blessings.
Similarly, we are often reminded of the need to care for our neighbor. As lay liturgist, I recently read this scripture passage from James 2:14-17:
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘”Go, I wish you well; keep worm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
For 36 years, I’ve seen that this church’s focus is on both loving God and caring for our neighbor.
I’ve also seen that this is a generous congregation. Our members are generous with time, talents and money which allows us, as a congregation, to offer praise to God. We have many outstanding programs: music, Sunday school, lay ministry , food pantry, college outreach and many others. We provide financial support when there are natural disasters. We support children’s education in Haiti. And, near and dear to my heart, we provide food for the men’s homeless shelter in Madison. In the 14 years that I’ve coordinated this program, there has never been a Sunday that members haven’t generously provided food and transported it to downtown Madison.
The generosity of our congregation makes it possible to support 2 full-time pastors with doctoral degrees and an outstanding music director. Our donations have made this beautiful facility a reality .
As we enter this Stewardship season, it is important to remind ourselves of how very blessed we are. We’ve had the good fortune to be born into a land of abundance . We have so much.
We can give generously and still live better than most people on this earth. Our church has considerable expenses and we, as a congregation, are responsible for covering them.
I am grateful to be a part of this amazing congregation. So, as we consider our pledge for the coming year, we all need to ask God‘s guidance in determining how we can participate our church’s ministries and how we can support our church financially .
What KIND of Church
Good Morning. When I was asked to speak the recommendation was to talk about what brought you to the church and why you’ve stayed. The first one is easy. Sally and I were looking for a place to take Hailey and Rachel to Sunday school. We decided to try out a service and I remember on the way home both Sally and I commented that everyone seem nice there.
The second service we attended sold my daughters for good but made me really question is this the church for us. That service the church was cleared of the rows of chairs and were replaced with tables for groups to sit at. There was no actual service and donuts and juice were served. That is the part that sold my daughters. The purpose of the service was to get members talking about what they wanted the church to be. What is working and what would you like to see improved. Seeing that this was our second week I we didn’t have a lot to offer. I remember someone asking me “What are you looking for in a church?” Excuse me? What kind of question is that? Church is Church. In my head I was thinking someplace that keeps the service under an hour and does not schedule baptisms on the same Sunday as communion. I didn’t share that thought at the time.
I didn’t have an answer at that time but I do now. Better late than never right? I’m looking for a church that has such wonderful Sunday school teachers that when my daughters see them, they give them hugs even though it has been over 2 years since they have been their teacher. I’m looking for with two amazing pastors whose skills and talents complement each other so perfectly that you can’t imagine the church without both of them. I’m looking for a church that sends care packages to college students to remind them we are still here and care about them. I’m looking for a church with members so thoughtful that they would take a picture of my daughter lighting the candles, put it on a card, and mail it to my daughter with a thank you note inside. I’m looking for a church that when there is a special musical service at 7:30 in the evening that I’m comfortable bringing not only my daughters but their cousins as well in the pajamas and everyone at the service just happy we were there. And I could go on and on but the answer to the question to why we stayed is because of all of you.
Which when we get right down to it is why I’m up here. None of those things happen without all of us supporting the church financially. I believe the reason I was asked to speak was how we choose to supports the church. I have setup auto payments with my bank so every month my bank mails a check to the church. I have done this, so I don’t have to worry about forgetting to bring the offering and during the summer when our attendance is not a regular we still support the church.
Importance of Tithing
Windsor UCC is my second church family. I was born and raised in a Methodist Church in a small town in Oklahoma. My church and dad preached on the importance of tithing. It was a big deal when I was young and getting an allowance, then when I got my first job, and it is still something I value deeply today.
I moved from Oklahoma to Wisconsin in 2009 and Jay and I did some church shopping. In addition to looking for a church home, we were looking for a church to get married in. At the time, we were living in Fitchburg and went to several Methodist and UCC churches around the Madison area. We visited Windsor UCC because Pastor Dave was the pastor at Jay’s grandma’s church in Peotone, IL. You all welcomed us so warmly that we knew right away that this was where we were meant to be. David Schipper’s music also touched my heart from the beginning.
We loved Windsor so much that we recently built a house and moved here. I am so thankful for Windsor UCC and am happy to be raising Johnny in this church. Going to church is the highlight of his week. He will often ask, can I go to “Church School today?”, he loves the Nursery Sunday School. Johnny also loves the passing of the peace time and goes off on his own to greet others. I think you all know that he loves the children’s moment as well. He goes up before he’s even called sometimes. I’ve been teaching 3rd grade Sunday School with Kendra the past few years. Pastor Julie says the Holy Spirit brought the two of us together, and I believe it. I appreciate the opportunity to teach the 2nd and 3rd graders. I had a strong children’s ministry and youth group when I was growing up and hope the same for Johnny. Julie, I volunteer to help with the youth group in about 10 years if help is needed.
I’m thankful for Pastoral care. I battle a mental illness and I appreciate the hospital visits, office hours, emails and prayers from the Pastors Dave & Julie. I am also thankful for our Stephens Ministry program . Thank you to the prayer team. I also appreciate the care and concern from the congregation. I once sent out a big cry for help and my first two responders were Kendra Mateni and Emily Halverson from Windsor UCC. Again, the Holy Spirit at work.
I am happy to give of my time, talents, and monetary support to grow our church family. I will leave you with a quote, “Tithing isn’t the ceiling of giving; it’s the floor. It’s not the finish line of giving; it’s just the starting blocks. Tithes can be the training wheels to launch us into the mind-set, skills, and habits of grace giving.” by Randy Alcorn.
Why I Started Giving
When I was asked to speak about why I give, my first thought was to recall when and why I started giving.
I remember as a small child, sitting in the pew with my parents, and when it came time to collect the offering my father would dig into his pockets, pull out all of the change and a few small bills, and distribute them amongst my brother, sisters and I, with instruction to quietly put them into the offering plate as it passed by. I gave out of obedience to my father.
The next memories I have are those at Sunday school age, when I was given a church-shaped, cardboard bank. We were instructed to take them home, find ways to earn money to put in them, and then bring them back to share. We were told stories about other children who were not as fortunate as us, and that God wanted us to help them. My mother was a Sunday school teacher… I gave because it was my duty to give.
As a confirmation student, I was introduced to scripture versus that taught about the purpose and principles of giving; giving your best, giving sacrificially, and deciding how much to give. I was taught that it was just as important to give of your time and talents as it was to give money; and that once you had confirmed your faith, you were considered an active member of the church with all of the responsibilities of other adult members. So I signed up to serve as a youth representative on the Council, I volunteered time at church events and I gave… but mostly, I gave because I wanted to prove that I was a responsible, adult Christian.
Paul and I were married at a very young age, and had three children within our first four years of marriage. We both grew up attending church on a regular basis and were committed to continuing that tradition, or habit if you will, with our family. We volunteered to teach Sunday school, assisted with youth fellowship, and participated in church events. We were enthusiastically active in the life of the church… But each year when the annual stewardship campaign began, we struggled to agree on how much to give. First fruits vs. what’s left after all of the bills are paid? What does it mean to tithe? How will God judge us if we give more time than money? We would finally agree to “obligate” ourselves to what was left in the budget and try to give more. I gave with a sense of obligation.
Years later, after participation on several committees, mission trips and Bible studies, my COMMITMENT to give is still rooted in obedience, duty, responsibility and obligation; but, my reasons for giving have changed. I give because of the spiritual relationship I have with God. I give out of thankfulness to God for the sacrifice He made for me. I am grateful for the freedom and opportunity to worship God in this place and with this family of believers; and I feel privileged to be able to serve with you in God’s name.
Whatever your reasons are for giving, I encourage you to:
Make a commitment to give
Pray about it
Prepare by reading scripture and perhaps even taking about it with others in our Christian community who you respect and trust
Be obedient and faithful to Gods leading
Stretch yourselves and trust God for the outcome
My Stewardship Path
Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. Christian Stewardship refers to the responsibility that Christians have in maintaining and using wisely the gifts that God has bestowed on us as individuals and us as the body of Christ. This is why I believe stewardship is important. Here. Today. At Windsor church.
I was born and raised in the Methodist church but made stops in the Presbyterian and Congregational churches before my rest stop in the UCC. Carol was born and raised Roman Catholic and spent time in the Lutheran and United Methodist churches. The dogma or church governance is not what is important to me. It is not important that we all believe the same thing, or that we believe everything in the Book of Worship, or the creeds in the hymnal. What is important to us, to me, is the love and support of the people in the Christian community that is Windsor UCC.
The year between stewardship campaigns goes quickly and pastors don’t like talking to their congregations about the church’s need for money. I suppose that is because they don’t want you to feel like the businessman in an old New Yorker cartoon who encountered a somber, long-haired, long-robed, sign-carrying prophet confronting passers-by with the message “What have you done to make the world a better place today?” Pondering the scene and the question, the challenge grabs the businessman as a legitimate claim on his life, but the somber challenger offends him, and so he grabs the sign and smashes it over the bearded fellow’s head. He is willing to do his thing to make the world a better place, but he doesn’t want to be reminded of it. So how do we remove this predicament from the arena of personal conflict to the field of stewardship?
My Christian journey started with my grandparents, all of whom had deep personal commitments to the church and saw to it that my parents were raised in the nurture and admonition of a community of believers. The church has grown and survived over two millenniums because the faithful loved the Lord and sacrificed their treasures to ensure the future of the church we inherited. When Carol and I were in France we saw first-hand the extravagancies of massive cathedrals; some with different hues of gray stone and some beautiful and ornate such as Notre Dame Cathedral.
We are fortunate to have a beautiful, new, functional church building here as the focal point of all of our church activities. A building such as this is expensive to build and maintain but a place to meet is essential to our congregation. We pledge during every baptism to guide and support the parents and child in the Christian faith and a large part of that is done in the Sunday school in this building, one of our imperatives as a Christian congregation.
I read once of a tycoon on safari deep in Africa when he suddenly found himself in a pit of quicksand and sinking rapidly. The first guide to arrive called frantically to the sinking man, “Give me your hand!” The millionaire, who never gave anything to anyone couldn’t bring himself to do that in spite of his circumstances. The second guide noticing what had occurred and being somewhat of a jungle psychologist extended his own hand to the troubled tycoon and said successfully, “Here, take this!”
As we travel this road of Christian stewardship together we may find helpful the rules used by the old stagecoach companies when they got bogged down in the road. When the roads became impassable due to weather conditions and the stagecoaches got stuck in the mud there were three simple rules:
First class passengers remain seated.
Second class passengers get out and walk.
Third class passengers get out and push.
The reality of the challenge that now faces us is: will you give a hand when you’re asked to get out and push?
My Stewardship Path
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my faith journey.
I was born on a farm and lived there until the latter part of my 4th grade when we moved into town. We didn’t know anyone and had no relatives nearby. My family did not go to church and my mother was expected to cook a large Sunday noon meal.
My school was several blocks from our house. Each day I walked by a large Lutheran church and school (WI Synod), and blocks away from that, a Methodist church. Soon after moving to town, I walked up to the Methodist church and was too shy to walk in. (I know it’s difficult for you to believe I was ever that shy) but shyness is something that I have fought for years.
The next Sunday, I tried again, went in, and to my surprise, I found the most welcoming and wonderful people, and I knew then I had found my home away from home. I now had a second family, my church family.
Soon, I was in Sunday school, youth choir and Methodist Youth Fellowship. I made a few special friends, and some whose friendship I am still enjoying. When it was time to decide what I could give to my church, I thought it was easy to know. Since I had been richly blessed, I felt I owed a lot in return and what I could do, I would do.
To a weekend away sponsored by Windsor Church. One sermon included a Bible verse, John, Chapter, 15, Verse 16- “You did not choose me, I chose you”. That was Jesus talking to his disciples. I felt that the words were the answer to what had prompted me to go into the Methodist Church many years ago and I felt then that God had called me. What a joy to realize that at last.
Fast Forward: I had moved back from Illinois and had retired from my job in downtown Chicago. I also had been attending Windsor Church and one day Pastor Marty Baumer came to visit me and asked about my Faith Journey. I told her what I just said here and she said I needed to take some credit for my decision to become a Christian. I wasn’t sure what she meant and she replied, “Because you answered the call when it was given, many do not answer.”
You can’t imagine how elated I was and how happy I’ve always been to be part of God’s plan.
Friends: When giving to the church, let your hearts be your guide by counting your blessings when you share your talents and gifts. I’ve been so blessed in so many ways and I am sure many of you have been also. It is best to try to count those blessings when deciding how to pledge. Now if you have already filled out a pledge card and believe you could give more based on your blessings, I’m sure some new cards can be found, just ask for one. Happy giving and, thank you for listening.