Let me begin by thanking all of you who participated in our “Giving Hope” stewardship campaign. I am grateful to all of you who have taken the time to turn in estimate of giving cards.
To date, we have received estimates from 54 families, totaling almost $257,000. We are still 17 pledges behind our total number from last year, and also behind last year’s total pledged of $306,000. However, I am confident that we will get there — and even exceed last year’s commitments!
Remember that our goal is to increase our budget by 10% this year, which means that we’re hoping for estimates of $336,000. It’s not impossible, believe me. And we have high hopes for what to do with an increased budget, including adding a part-time staff position, as well as enlarging some of our programs and ministries.
As you have noticed, in the current political climate, hope is in alarmingly short supply. We’ve seen an uptick in hate crimes, random hate speech, and racist vandalism. Trump’s election seems to have brought out an extremely ugly strain of white supremacy.
Not only that, people are legitimately worried about what will happen the day after January 20th. There is a lot of concern about which programs might get shut down, and which ones might get started up. Frankly, we don’t know the fate of entire groups of people — Muslims, immigrants, refugees.
I have been heartened to read of the way that millions of Americans have responded to this fear — by giving money!
According to The Atlantic, “Perhaps the most notable (and most concrete) action to follow the end of the divisive election season has been a surge in donations to various organizations whose agendas counter those proposed by President-elect Donald Trump. In recent days, groups that champion causes like civil liberties and women’s health as well as focus on immigration rights and anti-discrimination initiatives have seen record responses to the election, in the form of contributions and volunteer applications.”
Many groups report smashing previous giving records on this week’s #GivingTuesday. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is one of the groups reporting an outpouring of volunteers and donations. “It’s a very good sign. It’s something we hadn’t seen before. Making a donation is the ultimate sign of solidarity. Actions speak louder than words,” said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesman.
Giving money is one way that we give hope to our world — it is an action that speaks louder than our words of well-wishing.
And I still believe that giving money to your church is a significant way to give hope to the entire world. Of course, you have to believe that your church actually DOES give hope away, but I hope you are convinced that Kessler Park UMC does exactly that.
Even if our country were to slip farther into a chaotic blend of xenophobic, racist, and nativist tendencies, our church will continue to be a place where all people are treated as being made “in the image of God,” and where the stranger is welcomed, the foreigner hailed as a fellow traveler, and the migrant is given a pat on the back rather than a deportation notice.