Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church, Harvard, MA
Imagine walking into beautiful Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church one Sunday morning. It’s autumn and today is the kick-off service for the church’s annual stewardship campaign. You are warmly greeted and handed an envelope with instructions not to open it until prompted to do so during the service. When the time comes, you and the other congregants are asked by your minister, Rev. Wendy Bell, to open your envelopes very carefully.
What’s inside these 150 envelopes? MONEY—a total of $1,020. The envelopes have varying amounts of money: two dollars, five, ten and twenty dollar bills. The message conveyed is: It’s our money, the church’s money. Not a gift, exactly, and not a loan. The rules for the use of the money in the envelopes are as follows:
- You can’t give it back to the church. (It’s not a loan.)
- You can’t spend it on yourself. (It’s not a gift.)
- You have to spend it on something the church thinks is important based on our mission, covenant, and Unitarian Universalist principles and purposes. (It’s the church’s money.)
Why are the amounts in the envelopes different? Not everyone is the same, even though everyone is valuable and each of us is good at some things, not so good at other things. Everyone has something to give, even if it doesn’t seem like much. We can each make a difference if we think about what we have to give, get creative, and do something to make the most of what we have.
Rev. Bell asked everyone to record what they did with the money they received that morning on an index card and return the card to her within a couple of weeks. The possibilities were endless, the congregation rose to the challenge, worked together and individually to make the most of what they had received. It was a memorable experience, with lasting effects in the lives of many individuals and families.
For example, one family made the decision that instead of simply donating their money to a local food pantry, they would go food shopping together, bring the food to the pantry in person and volunteer there for an afternoon. Another family pooled all the money they received, chose a worthy cause to contribute it to, then wrote to their extended family and friends to invite them to join with them in making contributions.
Most recently, Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church (HUUC) has found new ways to express its generosity through a new program of donating the undesignated weekly offering collection to causes the church cares about. Rev. Bell reports that in beginning the program, the church anticipated giving away about $5,000. In actuality, the generosity of the congregation’s offerings far exceeded the estimate, with over $14.000 in contributions given away in the last fiscal year.
The HUUC is in the midst of preparing for a major capital campaign for the construction of a new fellowship hall and program facility, which kicked off on September 30th. The congregation has pledged their full fair share contribution to the Annual Program Fund, which will be the fifteenth consecutive year as one of our esteemed Honor Congregations.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.