The stewardship committee at my church asked me to say a few words recently in behalf of the annual fund drive. It was interesting, having the chance to speak as a lay member. Here is what I found myself saying:
When Chris asked me to speak this morning, she suggested I might talk about how I became a Unitarian Universalist and why I support this church financially. The first question I can answer easily-I was born a Unitarian, and grew up in a active UU family. I remember the first day I went to church in a sport jacket. Mrs. Bourland, who told stories to the children, greeted me: “Why Danny, you look like the president of a bank.” She meant it as a compliment-and I stored it up as part of the encouragement that every child deserves, and that UU children generally get.
Why do I plan to pledge to the Middleboro UU Church? So far as I can tell, this year’s fund drive is not especially sexy or dramatic. Our gifts will go for heating oil, construction paper, disability insurance, tuning, vacuum cleaners, pew repairs, books, snow shoveling, choir practices, hospital visits, children’s stories, rug replacement, counseling sessions, and light bulbs. All the ordinary things that go into sustaining this extraordinary place, this special group of people.
If there is any special drama in 2009, it is in the atmosphere of economic worry. No one is untouched. I feel lucky that so far, the recession has nibbled me around the edges-“paper” losses, kids and stepkids who need extra help. For some of you, I know, the hurt is more immediate, the fear more pressing. If that’s you, I hope you stick around, because I know how helpful it can be to be part of a congregation when the floor falls out of your life. I’ve been there. In fact, one of the reasons I plan to pledge is to make sure this church is here for people who-for whatever reason-won’t be able to give much at all next year.
Like you, I’ve had easy days and hard, and especially on the hard days I’ve been glad to be a Unitarian Universalist. April 15, 1997 was a bad day for me; I lost my job, and it was pretty devastating. I was slouching down Main Street to drop off my tax return, when like magic-or a miracle-a pale blue Volkswagen pulled up beside me, stuffed with men on their way to the Men’s Breakfast of the UU congregation I belonged to then. They scooped me up and took me to a restaurant where I had breakfast with eight guys, each of whom had been fired at least once. I felt buoyed by their support, I felt warmed by their care, I felt connected. And I knew I’d be OK. It was not the first or the last time I have been glad for a community that has faith in people and holds you tight even when you might feel inclined to slink away.
This year-knock on wood-I have a job. And so with Susan, I’ll do what I can to help make sure this church is here for everyone who needs it. And if you can, I hope you’ll do the same.