Keeping the Promise
JUC uses a year-round pledge system in which each household is asked annually during their pledging month to renew. Pledging is a part of our regular work all year rather than just one big push, and so you will be seeing some messages like mine over the course of the year.
I grew up UU here at JUC, and I raised my two children the same way, so our family is well versed in the confused looks of classmates and acquaintances when discussions of religion arise and we try to explain our creedless faith based on covenant. But in social justice circles, there are far fewer such looks. In the mainstream media our small denomination doesn’t seem to make much impact, but when you get in where the real work for justice is done–political movements, poverty relief, violence prevention–UUs are so common that when you say, “I’m a UU,” people nod, like “Of course you are.” I met with an NPR reporter from another state who was working on a gun violence piece, and she saw my chalice necklace. “Oh,” she said, “You’re UU. So am I.” At a social justice rally, someone saw the same necklace and said, “You Unitarians always show up.”
We do show up. We don’t just talk about being the change we want to see in the world. We roll up our sleeves and do the work.
This is what I thought about last July when the time came to renew our pledge to JUC. To be honest, things have been pretty rough financially. My husband, Tory, had to close his business in December of 2015. It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. We were supposed to sell the building that business was housed in to help fund his newer, smaller business, but thanks to a very long story about new EPA laws and a very old chemical spill pre-dating his ownership of the building, that hasn’t happened. We have struggled through 2016 without a paycheck for him while putting our daughter through her final year of college. We had cut cable and other luxuries long before our July pledge month came along.
If there is one thing we’ve been acutely aware of, it is the rising cost of everything, so it only stands to figure that JUC’s bills have gone up with ours–heat, electricity, all the unseen costs associated with the programming that keeps our church vibrant. Our hard-working staff deserves salaries that keep up with the cost of living. Given that, I cut one of my remaining luxuries–my online subscription to the Washington Post –and we raised our pledge. It wasn’t a lot, but it was what we could do, because I want JUC to keep on being part of a faith that always shows up.
My family gives generously. I hope you will too.
JUC uses a year round pledge system in which each household is asked annually during their pledging month to renew.
Pledging is a part of our regular work all year rather than just one big push, and so you will be seeing some messages like mine over the course of the year.
I have been a JUC member for over 20 years. My husband, Jay, has only been a member for 17 years, but once he caught on he was – as his dad used to say – like gangbusters. Our daughter, Brett, just turned 19. She has been here her whole life.
Because I am the Church Administrator I have a very unique perspective on pledging. I am heavily involved in all aspects of JUC’s finances from the starting point of budgeting to the nitty gritty of inputting each pledge into our database. Look out! I’m coming at you with some numbers!
Right now, I have to admit some sadness around pledging. During this fiscal year so far – July through November, five months – we have recorded pledges from 200 households. Out of those 200, 136 left their pledge flat or decreased. Decreases are generally for financial reasons, and that was 23 households. That leaves 113 out of 200 pledges with no increase. If each of those households had increased just $1 per month the total would be almost $1,400. Do the math, that means $10 per month more would be nearly $14,000. Small increases make a big difference.
I am very grateful to the 64 households that did make an increase. Our pledge month is July, and we are one of the 64 pledge increases. Our increase this year was $33 per month. Not a year of pledging has gone by for us without an increase.
Jay and I are happy and privileged to make this generous pledge commitment.
And why? In short, I live a better life because of my association with this institution. I joke sometimes that I do everything but preach around here – and sometimes that “everything” is not too pretty. But I know that the work this church is doing is so important. Our shared values magnify together and radiate out into the world. So, when I feel discouraged by the most recent facility mishap – use your imagination – I remember the bigger picture of why I work here and why I am a member.
Right now, when our country is so divided, we are needed. The Sunday after the election we had 545 people attend our two services. Including kids and teacher we had over 700 in the building that day. If you were here, you know that creates a standing-room-only situation! I need this place, you are here, so do you. And so do people who haven’t yet walked through our doors. We can only do it by paying for it.
My family gives generously. I hope you will too.