Linda Horn

I grew up in a family that regularly attended the Methodist Church where we lived. One of the things I remember is that my parents were always involved with the church in some capacity. Mom was a Sunday School teacher and Dad served on committees and was treasurer for some time. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, I later learned that they were also generous pledgers to the church. As I recall there wasn’t any question about doing this, it was just what one did.
At some time after I had left home, they discovered UUs and became active in the First Unitarian Church in Dallas. Their commitment continued. Again, they were on various committees and Dad was treasurer for many years. Mom was very active with the LGBT community and was a caregiver to several of them as they dealt with the AIDS crisis.
One of the things I learned from my parents at an early age, was that if you want to truly belong to an organization or church, is that you have to be willing to commit to helping support them. So, when I started coming to JUC and decided to become a member, pledging was what I did. If I was going to be part of this organization, I was going to be a supporter. Therefore, I do what I can both financially and with my time. And when my pledge month comes around, I try to increase my pledge as much as I can.
When I retired from a full time job, I then wanted to start helping in other ways. I have served on several committees and have volunteered in the office for many years. I have watched JUC double in size over the last decade and have always been glad to belong to something so worthwhile.
As many of you know, I do not have any children, however I believe that one of the most important things that JUC does, is to provide Religious Education. I believe (as the song says) – our children are the future.
I choose to be generous to, and within, this community because it’s a way to honor my parents and what they taught me. And to help keep RE program continue to be strong into the future. May you recognize, create, and celebrate, generosity in yourself and in others here. Choosing generosity is our legacy and our hope.

Gillie Bishop

JUC uses a year round pledge system in which each household is asked annually, during their pledging month, to consider their pledge for the following twelve months.
When I came to JUC in 2001, it was love at first Sunday. I joined and began pledging after my Path to Membership class in 2002, and I was active right from the start. I made coffee and ushered and volunteered in the nursery…and I started teaching Sunday school when the first new church year rolled around. But, for my first few years, I was really only a consumer of JUC. It wasn’t until about 2006 that I became a stakeholder.
That year, I attended a weekend Mamas’ Retreat hosted by Kristi Reeves. The mamas at that retreat spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted our kids’ experiences at JUC to be like. We wanted our kids to know UU hymns. We wanted them to value the earth. We wanted them to have close church friends. We wanted our kids to love coming to church and to develop a sense of UU identity. We  wanted to have close church friends to share our parenting journeys. We talked and talked and talked about what we could do to make our vision a reality at JUC.
When we came down from the mountains, we started to make things happen. Sarah Reeves recruited the amazing Sarah Billerbeck to develop our children’s music program. She and Marci Sontag went on to take many leadership roles in the church. Ann-Marie Marquis developed the wildly successful SOUPPs program for parents of preschoolers. Kristi Reeves founded CURK, which did much of the work now done by the Family Ministry Committee. Kristi and Julia Wilson created the Nature’s Keepers program that has blessed so many of JUCs 4 th & 5 th graders. Jennifer Roberts and I joined the YRE committee and eventually became its chairs. For the last few years, I have been teaching Neighboring Faiths and helping to write curriculum for our Kindergarten through 5 th graders. At that power retreat, we all became members who were not only active but felt responsible for making this place better.
It was at this time, too, that my pledge calculation changed. I had been giving a small donation each month, an amount similar to what I might give to a friend doing a walk for a cause, an amount I didn’t think we would notice coming out of our bank account. I began to think about what percentage  of our family income I wanted to give to JUC. I did  want us to notice our pledge amount. I wanted it to remind me that I am a stakeholder in this church; a producer and not just a consumer; not just a mover and shaker, but a mover and shaper .
It’s OK to be a consumer of JUC, if that’s what you need at the moment. But this year, when your pledge month comes around, I encourage you to think about whether you might be ready to become a stakeholder, and I hope you will increase your pledge.

Patty Lawless

JUC uses a year-round pledge system in which each household is asked annually during their pledging month to consider their pledge for the following twelve months.
For me, choosing to support my faith community is a value that I did not grow up with. It is one that I have acquired with time. Being raised Catholic, we put the money in the basket every Sunday, but there was never any conversation in our family about why that was important. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I encountered the concept of tithing, which I have come to understand as the invitation to share 10% of what I earn with others.
When I was living below the poverty level, by choice, because I did not want to pay taxes that would go toward war, I still held myself to that tithe. And as my children got older, I included them in some of the decisions about where our money would go. I would talk to them about why it was important to give up going out to eat, or buying our clothes at the thrift store instead of at the mall, so that we could also use our resources to support work for peace and justice in our world. We would write checks to the Denver Justice & Peace Committee, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Doctors without Borders, and we would give to our church.
My income has grown over the years, and I have continued my tithe. JUC gets over 1/3 of it every year, and every year I have been able to increase the amount I give monthly. It is important to me to support my spiritual home. I know that by doing so I am doing my part in making sure that JUC is here for all of us.
Here’s the invitation: If you do not currently pledge to JUC, I encourage you to think about doing so. You can make it a family affair like I did when my kids were younger. I have no doubt it will enrich  your life.
And If you already pledge, 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.

Darcy Stanton

JUC uses a year round pledge system in which each household is asked annually during their pledging month to consider their pledge for the following twelve months. In addition to being a pledging member of JUC, I serve on the staff here.
I am privileged to serve JUC as your Communications Manager. I am privileged to support an organization that I am passionate about. I am privileged to be in community with you all. I am privileged to be part of an incredible staff team. I am also privileged to have a spouse whose income supports our family so that I can make the financial sacrifice necessary to work here. My part-time hourly wage is supplementary at best and it definitely doesn’t cover the mortgage.
By now you’re all wondering if I’m actually standing in front of all of you, on a Sunday, asking for a raise. I’m not. That would be weird. What I am asking of you is to consider our other incredible staff as you fill out your pledge forms this year.
Any fellow parents of children in our Religious Education program know what a gift it has been to have Annie Scott serving as Director for the past few years. Through her expertise and love, she has transformed our RE program into something that truly holds all 260 of our kids. We know that Annie has made the decision to move back to her home state of Oregon this summer to be with family but do you know what brought her here in the first place? It wasn’t our competitive compensation package. It was Annie’s deep commitment to Wendy and her vision that brought her to Colorado to serve our church.
Now, the search is on for someone who can continue to grow this beautiful program for the church we love. I’ve been assured that there are lots of wonderful DREs in our denomination who are up to the task. However, without a prior commitment to our church, they may not be willing to make the same financial sacrifice that Annie and I have.
As our family’s pledge comes due in March, we will consider the impact that our donation can have on the quality of our future DRE and will increase our pledge accordingly. I hope that you do the same.

Andy McAliley

JUC uses a year round pledge system in which each household is asked annually during their pledging month to consider their pledge for the following twelve months. I’d like to share with you why I give to JUC, by way of a story.
In 2010 I quit my job. It was wonderful. I was beholden to no one, and the possibilities were endless. I backpacked in the Appalachian mountains. I took my sister on a trip across Europe. And when I settled down from adventuring, I started honing my skills for my newly chosen profession: video game creator. As I spent my days in my apartment cheerily learning the rudiments of object-oriented programming, something happened. Without structure or support, I lost direction. The endless possibilities began to seem paralyzing. Each day I spent less time learning how to make games, and more time playing them. Over the course of a few months, I changed from a budding programmer to a game addict. We’re talking World-of-Warcraft-bad, if that means anything to you. I withdrew to the point that I rarely left my room. Isolation bred isolation. I was turning away from life.
Fortunately, friends and family invited me back into life. My aunt asked me to watch her children for a week. Friends joined with me to start a running club. I was invited to play music with adults with disabilities once a week. Unbidden, community had pulled me back into living with meaning.
That experience taught me how much I need community to live a complete life. This church offers me those much-needed connections in abundance. Joining a small group let me forge deep and meaningful friendships and explore my values. Choir rehearsals provide a sacred oasis in the middle of my week, and singing with others as one voice to share in worship with you is one of the most profound experiences of my life. Ringing in the handbell choir is a joy (plus joining it scored me a solid “in” with my future partner’s mom).
Pledging affirms my connection to JUC. It is both a symbol that I belong to the community, and a concrete act that supports all those things I love about JUC. Giving to the church reminds me that my life is inextricably interwoven with those around me, and that embracing that connection leads to greater meaning and unexpected possibilities.
Increasing my pledge renews my commitment to this church, reminds me of its gifts, and binds me more closely with it. I give because I need community. I give to support this community. I give because the act of giving itself joins me with this community that I love. As my connection with JUC has grown, I’ve grown my pledge amount as well. 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.

Trinity Saffer

JUC uses a year round pledge system in which each household is asked annually during their pledging month to consider their pledge for the following twelve months.
I could tell you that the Saffer family pledges generously because we believe in the mission of the church, and we want it to continue to exist to do its good works in the world, and that would be true. But, the real reason is much more personal. About six or seven years ago, Sue Parilla called me and asked me if I’d like to be a Coming of Age mentor. Since I had previously worked as a middle school English teacher, I thought this would be a good role for me in the church, but for reasons I won’t go into, it was failure for me. Still, I was honored that Sue had even thought of me in this capacity. I feel like I’m the sort of person who, for whatever reason, just doesn’t get recognized much. I’m the type of person who can hang out in the commons without a single person coming over to talk to me. But Sue saw me and was actively trying to find a spot for me in the church-something rare in my life.
After the COA failure, I assumed that I had disappointed Sue and that she would give up on me. To my surprise, she called me, just as my son was entering kindergarten, to see if I wanted to be a volunteer office assistant two mornings a week. She was still working to give me a real role in the church. And this time it turned out NOT to be failure. Five years later, I’m still working in the church office. And even though it’s a volunteer position, I call it “going to work,” and it’s given me meaning and purpose in my life.
Working at the front desk, I often get calls from people who’ve lost a loved one, and they don’t have a church home in which to have a memorial service. They didn’t realize how much they needed a church until they did. And that’s made me realize that I don’t keep pledging because of what the church does for me now. I keep pledging for what I hope it will provide me in the future when I experience the inevitable losses life offers. My church membership gives me the hope that I won’t have to go though the losses on my own – that I’ll have people I consider friends to help me though it. Moreover, I keep supporting the church for what it will offer people I haven’t met yet. Through my pledge, I’m supporting an institution that will be there for others in the future when they need it. It’s awe-inspiring that I’m helping people I don’t even know find the hope they need to navigate this uncertain life.
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.

Brennen Flood

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.

Craig Williamson

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.

Jef Fugita

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.

Paula Reed

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.

Carol Wilsey

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.