“Ask” given at joint Association Sunday service planned by seven Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations in South Central Pennsylvania.

From my work with Unitarian Universalist congregations about money, I’ve learned that there are 3 different kinds of money we gather from among ourselves.

First, there’s the money we gather up so we can give it away – to people or organizations who need it more than we do, because they are changing the world in ways that we know are essential.

This is the kind of money we like best.  We never have enough of it, but we make a point of talking about it, and it makes us feel good to give it away.

The second kind of money is what we use to run our churches – to keep our buildings warm and lit and not-falling-down; to pay our staff, update our websites, send money to Boston or the District to pay our “dues.”

This kind of money we would rather not think about, but we do, all the time.  Usually, we find just enough to keep the church going, but it doesn’t make us happy – thinking and talking about it makes us tired.

Then there is the 3rd kind of money that we gather from among ourselves when there’s something special to do – something important, exciting, something that could change everything.  “Special” money pays for new buildings, or to start a satellite campus; maybe to launch a new venture that could bring these religious ideas of hope and possibility to hundreds (maybe thousands) who otherwise might live their whole lives without knowing anything of this, our saving faith.

The 3rd kind of money is indeed special.  Without it we are only able to keep on going as we are; with it, not only can we afford to do more, we create the obligation to at least try.  We usually avoid thinking about this money (“oh, we could never raise that much”), and it is risky: it’s amazing what can happen when we give ourselves permission to ask what wonderful things we might help make happen.

Today we’re asking for the third kind.  The special kind of money.  Our gifts today will go to fund “Leap of Faith” – a program that matches congregations that have succeeded and grown and realized their dreams, with others that hope to do the same.  This is an idea that many of us have had for years, but until now there wasn’t a way to make it happen.

This could really change things:  it could make some of our congregations larger, more visible, more effective… and then those outcomes could spread to other cities…, and then…

So, here’s the deal:
-if you’re fine with our congregations as they are
-if you think that Unitarian Universalism is already having as much impact as it ever could
-if you want us to carry on as we are
then don’t worry about the offering.  Put a couple of dollars in the bag as it goes by, and forget about it.

But if you believe that the world, our country could be happier, more just, more equitable, more hopeful, and that Unitarian Universalist congregations could play a part in that if we just believed in each other a bit more, then take your wallet back out, or your checkbook, and (as Ralph Mero taught us) add a zero.

Find the place in your order of service with UUA address, website, and write down a number.

Today’s money – your money – is special.  Because it could change lives – even yours.

About the Author
Tricia Hart
The Reverend Patricia Hart is a Unitarian Universalist minister and consultant, whose work is focused on change and growth in congregations. In addition to almost two decades as a consultant and facilitator, Tricia has served five congregations in New England and Pennsylvania as a parish minister. She currently serves the Unitarian Universalist Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as Co-Minister with her husband, the Rev. Peter Newport. Before being called to the Lancaster church in 2006, her pastorates were all intentionally short-term ministries, working with congregations in transition. For many years before that, Tricia was an active lay leader in her congregation in Yarmouth, Maine, where she first learned about fundraising, capital campaigns, and what happens when you don’t fix the roof.

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