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 see some messages like mine over the course of the year.
When I first became a member of JUC in February of 2013, I had barely experienced this church and could hardly articulate how Unitarian Universalism had became my chosen faith. At the time, I was a student at MSU Denver studying non-profit administration and the idea of giving to organizations I believed in felt very natural. Now as a student, working part-time and racking up loans, I had a little extra money to give. I pledged anyway, starting out at $10 a month. While it went against everything my non-profit budgeting brain had been taught, I would pull extra money together and put it in an envelope marked “pledge” about two or three times a year. I know it wasn’t the most ideal situation but I was fulfilling my promise.
Even then, I didn’t fully understand what promise I was making. And as the years went by I was able to increase my pledge little by little, partially due to circumstances and partially on the faith that the money would be there. I had a deep sense of volunteerism and felt what I couldn’t give financially I could supplement with time. I joined committees and helped with rummage sales, welcoming, ushering and a few other tasks. All the things my volunteer coordinator brain knew were small, yet important. While these contributions felt sort of random at first, what I received in turn was a sense of community, a sense of belonging.
Now that I’m fully invested and I am proud to say this is my religious home, I see how my financial contributions help carry forward the promises of suiting up and showing up into the future. It is much easier to take on the hard anti-oppression work, hosting families, growing spirituality folks of all ages, all the incredible things we do together; when the lights come on, the sanctuary is warm in the winter and cool(er) in the summer, when there is coffee on Sundays, and our wonderful staff and ministers are paid. I cannot fully express my gratitude for those who have fulfilled their promises before me so that could experience this church and this faith.
Pledging for me has now taken on yet another meaning. The ever widening circle of this promise includes those who yet to be here, who have yet to answer the same call to love. Through my monthly pledge to JUC I promise to help provide the matches to keep the chalice lit, so that those who are yet to partner with us, those who are yet hear of our faith, and those who are yet to join our community can see our light.
I hope that when it is your turn to pledge that you will think about what JUC means in your life and consider making an increase.
As many of you know, JUC uses a year-round pledge system in which each household is asked annually during their pledging month to renew. If I based our pledge on the value of what my family has received from JUC, which is sometimes suggested, the church would be in great shape, but I would be broke. Since we joined in 2000, we have benefited immeasurably from being a part of JUC. On top of the individual benefits of great sermons, wonderful friendships, meaningful worship, personal growth through committee work, and social action opportunities, all of which have been valuable, we have received so much more. It is appropriate that this is the youth service, since this church helped us raise amazing children. Many of you heard Phillip as a high-schooler stand in this pulpit during a service much like this one and deliver a homily, where he not only felt safe talking about his sexuality but could also share a message to other youth and adults about the importance of other people to that process. Charlotte is down the hall, teaching some of your pre-schoolers at this very moment. All three of my kids went through many years of Sunday School, our amazing Coming of Age program, YRUU, and the Ninth Grade Trip more than 30 years after I did that same trip as a ninth grader. Our kids are comfortable with who they are, socially responsible, sensitive and caring to others, and ready to pursue their dreams thanks in part to JUC.
As if that were not enough, more recently we’ve had to deal with some difficult times. In the last 6 years, I’ve lost both my parents, Marlene’s mother passed away, and my nephew unexpectedly died last summer at age 28. JUC was here for us in our time of loss, with pastoral care and ministerial support for memorial services. The thing we are the most grateful for, though, is the amazing outpouring of emotional and logistical support we received when Marlene was diagnosed with brain cancer. Hospital visits, rides to 6 weeks of daily radiation treatment, phone calls, home visits, meals, and frequent check-ins provided exactly what we needed. I can’t imagine what that experience would have been without JUC, and I am certain that two and a half years later, Marlene is healthy and we are all better off, in part because of the support we received from JUC.
So we pledge as much as we can, even though it is not enough, finding a way (in spite of college tuition payments) to increase our pledge every year, in gratitude, because we can, and to make sure that JUC is there for others as it has been for us. I hope you will also give generously and increase your pledge.
Mary Anne Schiff
JUC uses a year around pledge system in which each household is asked to renew annually during their pledging month. Pledging is a part of our regular work all year rather than in just one big push and so you will be hearing some more messages like mine over the course of the year.
I am proud to pledge to JUC and here is why:
When I was in my early twenties I read an article about Unitarians in the Empire Magazine of the Sunday Denver Post. I knew right then that I had found my religious home. My husband and I sometimes attended the UU church in Fort Collins while he was doing graduate work at CSU and when we moved to a Chicago suburb we joined a UU church that became a very important part of our lives. Our two sons were dedicated in that church and grew up there. My husband was active in the Religious Education program and in men’s groups, I served on many committees and most importantly we made lifelong friendships with people who share our beliefs and values.
We made two more moves and always considered the proximity of a UU church when deciding on a home but we weren’t able to find the same connections. Our Sunday mornings were often spent with the New York Times and the Washington Post. When we were finally able to move back to Colorado finding a UU community was a top priority. We first attended JUC almost exactly ten years ago in March of 2007. I remember crying during that first service because I felt that I had come home. My husband passed away several months later and JUC became both my refuge and my hope and it continues to be a foundation in my life. From the vantage point of my usual seat at the back of the church I have watched the heads change from mostly gray or white to a marvelous mixture of ages with much more interesting hair colors. How lucky we are to have so many new energetic members and friends.
I give generously to JUC because JUC has given generously to me and I want this church to be here for anyone else who might need it. I hope that when it is your turn to pledge that you will think about what JUC means in your life and consider making an increase.
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 hearing some messages like ours over the course of the year.
When we reflect on giving it’s interesting to note how it seems so simple yet somehow gets complicated. Simple is putting a couple of spare dollars in the basket even though you already do your monthly pledge. Simple is donating ten dollars when you go to the free shred-a-thon. Simple is doing a diabetes walk-a-thon, giving a hug, lending an ear or lending a hand. But then somehow, giving starts to get complex. How much? Is it the right organization? What are other people giving? If I do give, will that just give them permission to start bugging me for more? We really don’t have to think that hard.
Give in alignment with your values, give what you can, and then on an annual basis, see if you can give just a bit more.
For our family, giving to nature and animal organizations fits perfectly with our passion for the environment and all creatures. Because we listen to NPR all the time, and talk about what we hear all the time, we pledge to them on a monthly basis. Well, JUC is an amazing, amazing place. We come on Sunday and we get filled up with thought provoking words, music that stirs our souls, and don’t forget love. Our children have been so positively shaped by all of the various age-related programs and the awesome people who run them. It is a vibrant community. We remember before finding JUC thinking there really wasn’t a place like it that even existed. Yet here we are and we are so grateful.
We hope that when it is your turn to pledge, that you will think about what JUC means in your life and family. Our family gives generously, we 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 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 teachers 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.