Our Stillspeaking Voice is a monthly issues-oriented multimedia initiative, created to amplify the bold public voice of the United Church of Christ. Part of General and Minister and President John C. Dorhauer's first 90-day initiatives, Our Stillspeaking Voice is the product of all the UCC's national ministries –– the Office of the General Minister and President, Justice and Witness Ministries, Local Church Ministries and Wider Church Ministries –– in partnership with several UCC conferences, around a dozen issues that are part of the church's DNA.
Financial Wellness: Congregational and Personal
Bookmark this spot!
From this page we will be acquiring and sharing information for you, from you. Help us to create a viral site where the church helps all the people during tough economic times.
Financial Literacy: 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, recommended by the UCC Pension Boards offers help for all financial stages of life.
Financial Literacy: Financial Security: Managing Money in Tough Times. Learning positive money management techniques can help you and your family adapt to tough economic times.
Financial Fitness: America Saves is a nationwide campaign in which a broad coalition of nonprofit, corporate, and government groups helps individuals and families save and build wealth. Through information, advice, and encouragement, they assist those who wish to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, save for a home, save for an education, or save for retirement.
Support for Seniors: Benefits Check Up offed by the National Council on Aging includes more than 1,550 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Support for Homeowners: If your congregation has struggling homeowners, let them know about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's foreclosure prevention site.
Ohio State University Extension has a web-site where educational materials are available. More fact sheets about money management can be found here.
Below are some other links you may find helpful:
Job Search Tools:
(this page contains links to MANY resources)
Receipts are Up
Making Sound Strategic Choices in Anxious Times
Alban Institute Susan Beaumont and Alice Mann offer UCC pastors sound answers to tough questions.(click here)
The Church and Tough Economic Times:
What Should Congregations be Doing?
Anthony B. Robinson
The election is behind us, and the economic challenges? They continue. In fact, it seems likely that they will grow worse before they get better. In view of this, what should congregations and their leaders be doing? Get some answers here!
Religious Giving in Uncertain Times: Insights for Congregations and Faith-based Nonprofits
Prepared by The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
Keeping Faith Communities Vital in an Ailing Economy
Rising unemployment, gut-wrenching declines in the stock market and predictions of a recession worse than any since the Great Depression can spell sleepless nights for even the most faithful ministry leaders. (read full article)
From the UCC Writer's Group
Anthony B. Robinson: I Don't Deserve This!
You know what they say, "third time's the charm." But in this case, it was more curse than charm. It was the third kick that got my attention....
Lillian Daniel: God's Economy is Not a Roller Coaster
We've been riding a roller coaster in the financial world, and it has not been fun. This is not a roller coaster we stood in line for and got excited about....
Martin B. Copenhaver: Fear or Faith?
Fear in small doses can be a good thing. Fear is what told our ancestors to run from predators and spurred them on to go faster than they could have otherwise. And many of us never would have studied for math tests unless we had been motivated, in part, by fear of what would happen if we did not. So sometimes, in the short run, fear can prompt us to do the right thing....
Anthony B. Robinson: More of Everything?
"More of Everything" is the slogan for one of the big box retailers in our area. Its trucks roll by with those words emblazoned on the side: "More of Everything." Suddenly that slogan seems less like glad tidings than it does a haunting, sad chiding....
William C. Green: Looking Forward
We Americans are known for optimism and positive thinking. But now many of us are negative—and scared. Security as we've known it is being re-thought by all of us, government and citizens alike....
Donna Schaper: The Blessing of Limits
There is nothing like a good dose of reality to yield a blessing. Reality is always about limits, but in some centuries we obscure it with ideas about limitless growth and possibility....
(Click here for more tools and articles)
Stewardship Messages Online! In tough times giving can be difficult for people…even people of faith. Use these messages monthly to offer an inspiring, biblically-based reflection in your newsletter, on your bulletin board, your website, or use as an insert in your giving statement or Sunday Bulletin.
Share the blessings and love of this sacred season. Merry Christmas from the United Church of Christ.
Please share this UCC Christmas message on your church website, and through your social media channels.
On December 18, 2015 President Obama signed into law the PATH (Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners) Act, which includes not merely an extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover, but which makes it PERMANENT.
The legislation keeps in place all of the previous requirements that must be met in order for the charitable transfer to qualify:
- The donor must be at least 70½ years of age when the gift is made;
- Transfer must be made DIRECTLY from the IRA administrator to the charity;
- The gifts from the IRA cannot exceed $100,000 per person ($200,000 for a couple with separate IRAs) in a given year;
- They can only be outright gifts (can’t fund a life-income gift such as a Charitable Gift Annuity or Charitable Remainder Trust);
- There is no charitable deduction, but the donor does not include the amount distributed in their federal taxable income;
- The distribution counts toward the donor’s Minimum Required Distribution for the current tax year;
- The law is retroactive to January 1, 2015 and is now permanent (2015 gifts must be transferred by December 31st);
- The Rollover provision applies only to Traditional IRAs, not to 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and other similar retirement plans – gifts must be made directly to a qualified charity and may not be made to donor advised funds, private foundations or supporting organizations. Gifts may also be made from Roth IRAs, but distributions from a Roth are generally tax-free to the donor anyway, depending on the donor’s age and the length of time the Roth IRA has been in place.
Contact your IRA plan administrator to proceed with a Rollover gift.
What does Our Church’s Wider Mission Support?
Great for new board and mission committee members! This resource highlights work being done in the national setting which is supported by Our Church’s Wider Mission. Print and post for church bulletin boards, use in newsletters or on websites. Also great for stewardship and mission committees!
OCWM Brochure - Great for church members and church leaders. Order copies. Free.
OCWM Infographic – Great tool to share at Annual Meetings and Churches. Order copies. Free.
OCWM Bulletin Inserts Great for use in the Sunday bulletins, at board or committee meetings or to focus a mission group discussion. Explore what we do together in the Conference and national ministries as one church:
The United Church of Christ stresses giving a deliberately chosen percentage of income to support God's mission among people everywhere. Our church urges us to set at least 10% of income as our giving goal and suggests that we move toward that goal by giving an additional 1% of our income each year.
Using the information in this brochure, consider some of the ways that you, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, can cause God's mission to come alive through your action. Sections include:
- My Financial Contribution
- Increasing My Giving for the Future
- Weekly Percentage Giving Guide
Sold in 5-packs.
A reflection on tithing by the Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson, Rector and Senior Pastor of Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas:
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse...and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. Malachi 3.10
A Word of Hope
Through the course of my ministry I have attended many spiritual retreats, participated in many Bibles studies, and have been a part of countless church meetings. One of the questions often asked, as a “get to know you” activity, is an invitation to share one's favorite passages of scripture. That is a very hard thing for me because there are so many Bible verses that I love. However, if I were to share the one passage of scripture that has changed my life the most it may well be this passage from the book of the prophet Malachi.
I remember the first time I consciously heard this passage. It was shortly after I arrived at the Cathedral of Hope. I was participating in a New Member Class and Bill Eure was teaching the class about stewardship. He quoted the scripture from Malachi and then explained how he had begun practicing tithing and what an impact it had made in his life. The lesson was so genuine, so heart-felt, that I decided to do what Bill had done, to practice tithing.
It is now six years later and I have never regretted that decision. This one passage of scripture, and the practice of it in my daily life, has changed how I feel about money. Now, if I am honest, I often wish I had more money. I frequently have to limit the things I buy. Sometimes I have to postpone the plans to do something for my home or yard. I have to carefully plan for major purchases. Those are the realities of our living, but since beginning the discipline of tithing, I have consciously given away more of my resources than ever before in my life, much more than just ten percent. What I have discovered is that God is true to God’s promises.
I am happier now than I have ever been and while there are many reasons for my happiness, I believe that one of the most important reasons is that I now spend my days in gratitude. I have shifted from being fearful of what I do not have to being grateful for what I do have. I am learning, day by day, week by week to be a generous person. I am learning the deep and profound joy of giving. In short, I have been set free. Money no longer owns me and I am grateful to God for that.
So, why not try it? What do you have to lose? After all, it is God who says, “Test me in this!” Why not try bringing God the full tithe, a full ten percent of your resources, and see what God does. I am convinced that God will do exactly as God promised and will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings upon you.
Holy One, you are so very generous to me. Let me be wholly yours so that I might be a blessing just as you have blessed me. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson
Rector & Senior Pastor
Rev. Kate Huey
About eighteen months ago, I joined a woman’s exercise club, one of those reasonably-priced, three-day-a-week, thirty-minute-workout women’s exercise clubs that presented a golden opportunity to get in better shape so I would feel better and improve my health. What a great idea! There was only one catch, of course – I would actually have to show up and do the workout, because paying my monthly fee, carrying the ID card, and saying that I belonged to an exercise club wouldn’t take a single ounce off my weight or improve my endurance one bit.
What I did notice, however, when I set a rhythm to my life that included regular trips to the exercise club, was a definite “lift” to the way I felt, not just physically but mentally, too. Clearly, as we all know, exercise is good for us. It may not be easy, and it may take discipline, but it’s definitely good for us.
During the past two years, I’ve been making a similar discovery about generosity, and specifically about tithing. We live in a world that offers many “helps” to get our lives in order, to find a sense of proportion and balance and health, from exercise clubs and weight-loss plans to closet organizers and electronic calendars, from self-help books and Dr. Phil to financial advisors and “lifestyle coaches.” But I am convinced that these supports fall far short of the power of the gospel to transform our lives.
I’ve experienced this firsthand. As a member of the Stewardship and Church Finances Ministry Team of the United Church of Christ, I serve the region of the church that stretches from Virginia to Texas. Two summers ago, on a beautiful June morning, I was about to lead a workshop on stewardship at a meeting in a church in Lanett, Alabama. We were sitting on those little folding chairs in one of the church school classrooms, waiting to begin, and just visiting and getting to know one another. When I asked the folks for their own thoughts about giving, two women, one on either side of me, told me that they had tithed – that they had given a tenth of their income to God – all of their lives, and that they both had found it to be a blessing in their lives. One said, “When we bought a house, we thought we’d better back off from tithing for awhile to make sure we could afford it, but then we thought, ‘No, we’ll just keep tithing,’ and we’ve never missed a house payment.”
So there I was, the “expert on stewardship from Cleveland,” about to teach them about generosity and faithfulness. I don’t think so. The day I returned home from that trip, I stood by my kitchen counter (I can still see it now), and I opened my pay envelope. I looked at my pay stub. I thought about all the blessings in my life, and I felt so profoundly grateful. I thought, what was I waiting for? Until I could “afford” to tithe? Until I wouldn’t feel it if I did? I took out my checkbook and wrote a check to Pilgrim Church (my home congregation) for one-tenth of my paycheck. And it was the best feeling I’ve ever had when I wrote a check. I’ve been doing that ever since, each time I receive my paycheck, stopping to think about my blessings and give thanks, writing a check of the “first fruits,” and then living on the rest. Along with the other money I give to the special mission offerings (Neighbors in Need, One Great Hour of Sharing, Strengthen the Church, and the Christmas Fund) and to other ministries of the wider church, and to charities I support, and the money I give to my children…all of those are the happiest checks I write.
But then I discovered two more things. First, I feel calmer about money in general. I have a better sense of priorities in my life; things feel like they’re in better order. For me, the gift of tithing is like the gift of the Sabbath – both of them establish a kind of balance and proportion in our lives – they are, quite simply, good for us. Didn’t Jesus say, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath”? (Mark 2:27)
Second, I discovered something that can best be related with a story about my two-year-old granddaughter, Allyson. Last spring, Ally stayed with us for eight days. Of course, I’ve loved playing grandma, giving her lots of affection and attention, and enjoying how cute and loveable she is. But for those eight days, I had to be aware of her at all times, to provide everything she needed, to think about where she was and whether she was safe, feed her, bathe her, clothe her…I had to invest a lot of my time and my self in her. When the time came to hand her back to her parents, though, I thought my heart would break. I had bonded with her in a very special and powerful way.
That was what I discovered when I decided to increase my giving dramatically, all at once, to the church. I found that I love my church even more. I know I loved it before, but the more I give, the more I care about Pilgrim Church. And, mysteriously, at the same time, the more I trust that the leadership of the church will use my gifts well. Generosity, I have come to understand, is a discipline to be practiced and yet, mysteriously, at the same time, it frees our spirit. This experience, which transformed my life – this movement into a spiritual, everyday practice – would not have happened if two women of faith had not quietly trusted that group with their own stories of giving that summer morning over a year ago. They showed me by their example and their calm faith what it means not just to say “I believe” but to really follow Jesus, not just on Sunday morning, but seven days a week.
In your life, how have you thought of the tithe?
How are rules and laws rather than freedom often connected with tithing, and how would exercising the tithe in freedom be a new and liberating “discipline” in your life?
What steps might you take to increase your giving, a little bit at a time, to reach a tithe in the future?
When have you experienced freedom and a “lift” because you exercised generosity?
Is generosity – like health – something that happens without effort on our part?
|Quinn G. Caldwell is a United Church of Christ minister and the co-author, with Curtis J. Preston, of The Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ.|
|Rev. Kaji Douša is the Senior Minister of The Table UCC in La Mesa, California and blogs at soundthebells.blogspot.com.|
|Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.|
|Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.|
|Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.|
|Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Stewardship for Vital Congregations, published by The Pilgrim Press.|
|Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, UCC, Stone Mountain, Georgia.|
|Donna Schaper is Senior Minister, Judson Memorial Church, New York, New York. Her latest work is 20 Ways to Keep Sabbath, from The Pilgrim Press.|
|Christina Villa is the Editorial Director of the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group and on the staff of the United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio.|