A Word about Benevolence
I want to be part of a congregation that is faithful to the ministry we share with the larger church. That faithfulness, which is often called Benevolence, has traditionally been thought of as a simple tithe (10%).
Now, let me tell you why we should all want this:
I grew up in a congregation that was established by the larger church. The first congregation I served as a pastor was established by the larger church. The congregation I currently serve was established by the larger church. New congregations today are being established by the larger church. The larger church helps congregations like ours design and raise funds for new buildings and remodeling efforts.
I have had many pastors over the years, each of them was prepared, screened and supervised by the larger church. When I felt called to ministry, I was prepared and screened by the larger church. I attended a seminary established and maintained by the larger church. That seminary’s faculty were trained and called by the larger church. Our next pastor will be someone who was prepared and screened by the larger church. Our intern is currently being prepared and screened by the larger church.
The larger church built hospitals, when no one else would (e.g. Iowa Lutheran Hospital). The larger church built colleges, when no one else would (e.g. Grandview, Wartburg, Luther). The larger church built orphanages, when no one else would (e.g. Bremwood Children’s Home).
As a child, I attended summer camps established and maintained by the larger church. My children attended camps established and maintained by the larger church. Every year our congregation sends children to camps established by the larger church.
As a child, my faith was nourished by a green hymnal (LBW) prepared and published by the larger church. My faith is now nourished by a cranberry hymnal (ELW) prepared and published by the larger church. For all of my life, my faith has been nurtured by curriculum, catechisms and Bibles published by the larger church.
When Jesus tells me to care for widows, orphans, the poor and refugees, I do that in part through the work of the larger church.
When our church wants to talk to the Governor or Legislature about an issue that is important to our ministry in Iowa, we send Bishop Burk and others to speak for us. When our church wants to talk to the President or Congress about an issue that is important to our ministry in the United States, we send Bishop Eaton and others to speak for us. When we want to talk to world leaders about issues that affect our ministry around the globe, we send our Bishops and others to speak for us.
When Jesus prayed that his disciples would all be one, it is through the ecumenical efforts of the larger church that we make progress toward this call. Through the larger church we have a relationship with the Ivuga Parish and our missionaries, Cynthia and Mark. Through the larger church we gather to pray with our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters.
The larger church coordinates pensions, health insurance and continuing education for our pastors and staff. The larger church steps in when congregations have trouble or conflict.
I want to be part of a congregation that is faithful to the larger church, because the work of congregations, synods and our national church office are deeply connected and intertwined. They are inseparable.
I want to be part of an ELCA congregation that is faithful to the work of the larger church, because without faithful congregations there would be no ‘larger church,’ no ELCA, no ELCA Synods and finally no ELCA congregations.
In 2013 Saint James gave less than 5% of its income to the work of the larger church.
When I was called to be your pastor in 2014, the Call Committee and Council agreed that they wanted to be a faithful partner with the larger church by systematically increasing our benevolence to 10%. This decision was shared with and affirmed by our congregation in subsequent annual meetings. We made progress toward this goal in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The proposed 2020 Budget which we will vote on at our Annual Meeting on January 26…
sets benevolence to the larger church at 9% of our pledged income.
and total benevolence (all benevolence divided by all income) at 9.7%.
We have worked hard and made steady progress toward our goal of a faithful 10%. We should thank our council for their wise leadership, and our members for their growing generosity. Thank you!
If you have any questions about benevolence or the 2020 budget, please feel free to call me.
Copyright © 2020 Pastor Bill Bernau. All rights reserved.