How does your personal faith inspire you to give? 

This is the story of a creative response to God’s call to be generous. In this case, the faithful giver wishes to remain anonymous, so we will call him “Gene” (for “generous,” get it?)

Gene knew that he wanted to make a significant gift to the church, and he felt God calling him to somehow alleviate some of the suffering we have all endured during this pandemic. He recognized that some people in the congregation may have lost jobs, or had their hours reduced, or quit jobs altogether to be at home with children, or incurred new medical expenses, or new caretaking expenses. All these things might prevent one from making or fulfilling a pledge commitment. Gene was sensitive to the fact that people experiencing economic hardship or uncertainty might feel ashamed or guilty for being unable to give as much as they wished to.

Perhaps, he thought, his gift could take some of that shame away—provide a little sigh of relief for people caught up in more immediate concerns. So he decided to pay off the “debts” of as many as possible of the people who didn’t finish paying their 2020 pledges. These people will no longer receive giving statements showing an outstanding balance. 

Gene wrote about his idea thusly:

“Importantly, because the Gospel is also about the forgiveness of our debts, and the unexpectedly gracious gift of Jesus…[I wish my gift to be used] for a Distribution for the Wellbeing of Third Church Parishioners,…and allow others to join with contributions of their own, making this an ongoing and welcoming feature…of church life.”

If you are someone who was unable to finish paying your 2020 pledge, you may soon receive notice that your “debts” have been forgiven. An anonymous donor has stepped in to cover you. If you find that you are able to contribute the remainder of your 2020 pledge after all, then I encourage you to please pass the generosity forward. Your gifts to the church can then alleviate someone else’s burden.

Thanks be to God!