Abundance vs Scarcity: Why We Should Fully Fund the APF

By Rachel Maxwell, Stewardship for Us

Anxiety makes us fearful and fear brings on a sense of scarcity. How do we cope with the thorny aspects of stewardship in high anxiety times? We look for the abundance. And it is there.

I see abundance in the acts of every day human kindness and courage. Not just the heroic doctors and nurses caring for the sick in terrible circumstances but bank tellers, grocery store clerks and delivery people. I see abundance in the willingness of a 93-year-old to learn how to use Zoom. I see abundance in the young adult using their 3D printing prowess to make masks and the folks contributing to the fund for materials. I see it in the teamwork of organizations, volunteers calling the elderly, and the collaboration happening everywhere from States to families solving new problems, together, with great generosity of spirit. I see it in the Italians singing to each other from their confinement and the New Yorkers making noise every night at the shift change in the hospitals to express their appreciation. Now is a time to witness the abundant beauty of our humanness.

As UUA regional leader, Connie Goodbread says,

at this time, relationship and humanity is everything.”


Our seven principles and sources include this promise we make to ourselves and each other: “As free congregations we enter into …covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.” This covenant requires a sense of abundance, that support requires something of us, even when times are tough. And we UU’s are remarkably good at supporting each other for we are a generous people.

Our mutual support has looked radiant these past weeks.

Our UU congregations remain in covenant with their members and staff by reaching out individually, in Zoom gatherings and online worship. Reaching out to each other with care and concern. We remain in covenant by maintaining staff pay levels through the pandemic. And by giving more when we can because we know there are others who have lost jobs.

The UUA have been keeping covenant with the congregations they serve through the amazing services they have been offering — Zoom meetings about accessing funds through PPP and CARES, weekly Stewardship Salons, trainings and access to technology, worship resources and deeply pastoral messages from leadership.

It has come into very clear focus that, in these extraordinary times, our need for the values of Unitarian Universalism, for our fellow congregations and for the Unitarian Universalist Association is greater than ever before. And we are finding creative ways to shine our light.

So when I am asked, How should congregations weigh the amount they contribute to the UUA’s Annual Program Fund (APF) with other budget elements such as payroll, programming, and building maintenance? 

I say, when we support the APF, we are supporting all UU congregations, not simply our own. We give this support so that all of our congregations can transform their communities– so that our collective voice is amplified and so that through our gifts we bring more love and more justice to life.

I say, our stewardship of the UUA is not transactional, it is transformational. Only together can we change the world.

My simplest answer to the question is, funding the UUA is part of the covenant we make with each other, with our fellow UU congregations and with the world. 

For assistance in navigating these times and further resources we encourage you to join the Stewardship Salons hosted by the UUA Stewardship & Development team offered weekly through May on Mondays at 4 pm Pacific/5 pm Mountain/6 pm Central/7 pm Eastern. To access the Salon: Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/6506789566

About the Authors

Rachel Maxwell

Rachel brings communities together to finance the things they value most. She is committed to stewarding our Unitarian Universalist communities toward healthy relationships with money and value. Her TEDx talk focuses on how we might create value together....

Stewardship for Us

The Stewardship For Us (s4us) Team, is based on a simple principle and a long history. The principle is that stewardship is important to all of us....

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