Assistant Minister's Corner - Rev. Monica Dobbins

26 February 2018

It’s pledge season at First Unitarian! I really love pledge season. This is the time of year when the congregational community comes together not just to pay the bills for the coming year, but to affirm that this religious community belongs to us – and then to determine what that is worth to us, and how we will account for that worth.

We live in a time of mega-merchandisers like Amazon and Walmart that fight to offer us the lowest prices – but we know that prices don’t adequately measure the cost or the worth of a thing. Some of my very favorite things have cost next to nothing – a handmade gift from my child, my favorite coffee cup that was a gift from a public radio pledge drive.

And, I find that the older I get, the more satisfaction I get from investing in people and places. I don’t need lots of new things, really; what I crave is connection and relationship. I am grateful when I can spend a little more to make a purchase from a locally owned business or service, when I can spend my entertainment dollars in local bookstores and outdoor activities, and I’m extremely grateful for public transportation. Putting my money into people I know and see every day is a spiritual practice for me: it brings me closer to my vision of a just and peaceful society.

Most of a church’s budget goes into what the corporate world calls “labor”: the wages and benefits of the people who work for it. Yes, that includes the ministers, of course; but it also includes the other religious professionals who fill our lives with hope and opportunities for growth and service, and the professional support staff – one of the finest I’ve seen anywhere, in any denomination – who do much of the behind-the-scenes work of keeping the church going. It is one of the greatest privileges of my life to work with these wonderful people and to see all the amazing things they do for this church community.

Much of the rest of the church budget pays for the things that support these people and make their work possible: supplies, operating funds, building and grounds support. Our board of trustees earns that name: trusted, trustworthy, a group of experienced and mature people who take their role of managing the trust of the congregation seriously.

I can think of few ways to better invest in people and places, with the goal of advancing our values, better than to make room in your personal budget for a generous pledge to this church. The church plays a unique role in society, whatever one’s beliefs: a lifeline for those in crisis, and a laboratory for making our values manifest.

If you are new to the congregation and aren’t sure what to pledge, or if you’ve been around for a while and want to review your pledge and make sure it’s right for you, I strongly encourage you to have a look at the UUA’s Fair Share Giving plan. Fair Share Giving is a sliding scale pledge plan based on a percentage of income, and is designed to make it easier for families of all income levels to find a pledge level that is economically just and financially sound. You can learn about it here:

Yours in faith,

Rev. Monica