CT pastor on OGHS: We’ll never apologize for asking someone to give to a worthy cause
The Rev. David Taylor co-pastors First Church of Christ Congregational, UCC, Glastonbury, Conn., consistently a strong supporter of One Great Hour of Sharing. The church annually donates most of its Easter collection to the mission offering. In 2018, First Church was OGHS’s top-giving church, based on dollars. It dropped to second in 2019, even though First Church gave more than the year before. In 2020, First Church regained that top giving spot and though 2021 totals are not yet available, hopes to continue the streak. The suggested OGHS offering date in 2022 is March 27.
It’s kinda scary!
People in the pews are actually able to repeat, word for word, our opening greeting at Sunday morning worship, “First Church is an open, welcoming and affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ, which means….” Our attendees are apparently listening to us!
Then, during the fall stewardship campaign, week after week after week, “We will never, ever apologize for asking someone to give to a worthy cause.” That sentiment is expressed again in the springtime while promoting the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Years ago, at a fundraising seminar in the 8th-floor conference room of a UCC-built affordable elderly housing facility, the speaker from the Lilly Foundation began with the No. 1 rule of fundraising – you’ve got to ask!
Well, we will never, ever apologize for asking the compassionate and caring people of First Church to give generously to One Great Hour of Sharing. And we ask them to give generously – give what you might spend on a night out on the town (dinner, a movie or a show, babysitting), or give an even more significant gift so all year long you can say yourself, “My OGHS dollars are immediately at work after a tornado in Ohio, or an earthquake in Haiti, or a tsunami in Asia.” Never again will you have to ask, “What can I do?” when a disaster hits almost any corner of the world.
In the past we have “accused” the people of First Church of having “big hearts.” And then the next year we will challenge them to make those hearts even bigger by doubling what they gave the year before to OGHS. We challenge them to throw away any cynical notion that our gifts really can’t make a difference, and rather to wholeheartedly embrace the truth that our emergency relief and development aid will actually save lives: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Does pride go before a fall? Perhaps. A few years ago, much to our surprise, First Church became one of the top giving churches in the United Church of Christ for OGHS. Then, a year or two later, we fell slightly out of the No. 1 spot. So, we said, “What the heck?!?”
Let’s challenge the congregation – this beloved community with a “big heart” – to rally together and give generously so we could once again proclaim, “We’re Number 1!” Was “pride” an inappropriate motivator? Maybe.
But then we remembered, “We will never, ever apologize for asking someone to give to a worthy cause.” And maybe, just maybe, our pride might have saved one person’s life. We can live with that.
The Rev. David Taylor and the Rev. Kate VanDerzee-Glidden are pastors at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, United Church of Christ, Glastonbury, Conn.
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