We all think that living our values is an important part of being a UU. We all agree that it’s easy to say stuff, but what we DO about it is what counts. And as we have been learning through the “Stories of Us” series that has been featured one Sunday a month this year, our members say they highly value UUCA. They have personally been supported, they have witnessed how their fellow congregants have been helped or how they have grown, they have experienced pride in knowing that a UU congregation is visible in Asheville.
The question is, if you say you value something, how do you show it? What do you DO? Great active responses include volunteering to do work the congregation needs to have done (membership, event planning, maintenance, singing, teaching, and most especially leading). But what may be the most helpful act of all is being as generous with your monetary contribution as you can be. THAT is a concrete and impactful way to live your values.
Every congregation, non-profit organization and for-profit company runs on money. Without adequate financial resources, organizations wither. They lose vitality. They become focused on their own survival rather than enjoying and sharing the abundance that comes with generosity.
Not coincidentally, our annual budget drive is coming up. It’s the time that we ask you to estimate your giving for the next fiscal year so that we can produce a balanced operating budget for the Board’s review in April, and your voted approval in June. It is a perfect opportunity to live your values.
On the spending side we have done a lot this year to improve our standing as a good employer. By losing a senior staff member (Joy Berry left after the budget was approved last June), this year we have been able to increase hours and pay for our RE staff, including the Director of Administration/Acting Director of Lifespan Religious Education. (Whew! What a title.) Now that Rev. Lisa has made the decision that moving up and out to continue her career climb as a UU minister is right for her, we will hire a Minister of Faith Development to lead pastoral care and faith development for all ages. (Rev. Mark will lead the Earth and Social Justice Ministry while Linda Topp will work with Venny Zachritz on Membership.) That will still result in just three senior staff members instead of four, providing room in the budget to pay those senior staff members more equitably.
Everyone is clear that a generous contribution of money from one member will be a completely different amount from another member who may be more or less financially able. No one is asking you to impoverish yourself to fund UUCA. What we ARE asking is that you deeply ask yourself if you are being as generous to UUCA as you can be. You’ll be getting more information about how to make this consideration in a few weeks. In the meantime, please know that UUCA’s health and vitality depends on the collective energies and resources of all of us. With everyone’s re-evaluation of their giving levels, both of time and money, UUCA can totally jump to a higher level of commitment and value for its members and the greater community.
By the way, if you would like to explore what money means to you, how it influences your feelings, attitudes and habits, plan to attend this week’s Wednesday Thing. Laura Amabile will be leading a session called “Financial Sanity: Creating a money plan that works for you.” The session is designed for ages 15 to 100, and will be fun and engaging, not heavy! It contains information for individuals as well as parents interested in helping their children understand money and values, with an emphasis on developing healthy and realistic saving, sharing, and spending practices.
Linda Topp, Director of Administration