The annual Dickinson County Donate Day with matching funds from the Community Foundation of Dickinson County will be on Friday, March 18, 2022. Whatever you give to the First United Methodist Church in care of the Foundation will be matched up to $5,000. Checks should be dropped off at the Foundation at 418 NW 3rd from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on March 18, 2022, or you can give online on that day at donatedickinson.com. If Friday doesn’t work with your schedule, you can bring your check to the church office prior to that day. Make checks out to the Community Foundation with Abilene First UMC in memo line.
The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof. — Psalm 24:1, KJV
God created all that is and retains true, ultimate ownership of all of it. We were tasked to be God’s stewards—tending it and looking out for it. How we care for the earth reveals a lot about the true nature of our faith.
In Sunday’s stewardship moment, I encouraged those who could afford to do so* to tithe their stimulus checks, especially if you’ve been wanting to step up to tithing. I had a question from someone seeking clarification, and I want to share my answer with everyone. I did not mean for you to give the entire $600 to the church**. What I meant to suggest was that you take a tithe (10% = $60) of the $600 and give that to the church as a supplement to your regular giving.
*Allow me to use myself as an example as someone who could do this. The COVID-19 pandemic has not been a financial hardship upon me. The $600 stimulus check is an unexpected windfall. When I tithe it and give $60 to the church, I’ll still have a $540 windfall that I’ll be looking to put to good use.
**Speaking on behalf fo the church, we would not say no to the full $600, but I was in no way suggesting that.
Jenny and I have taken Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University.” It helped us a great deal, and it made a lasting change in our lives. But there were parts I was uncomfortable with because he encouraged people to move beyond good stewardship and to aim for great wealth. This came to mind recently because Dave tweeted:
“If you do rich people stuff, eventually you will be rich. If you do poor people stuff, you will eventually be poor.” 
I don’t think it’s that simple. Certainly, if you do “rich people stuff” like being born into wealth and privilege or inheriting a fortune, you will be rich. But the world is filled with too much inequity for everyone to be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps—especially since some people don’t have boots. Furthermore, the above statement seems to imply that the financial state we find ourselves in is the financial state we’ve earned, even if that were true it would still be problematic. Long before twitter, Jesus Christ said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20, NRSV)
and a few verses later,
“But Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” (Luke 6:24, NRSV)
Wealth is not one of the goals of the Christian life. We are called to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us, but storing up treasure for ourselves in this life is not the way of Jesus Christ. We are instead called to be good stewards that we might be good Samaritans.
  James Martin. Twitter post, March 7, 2019, 8:02 a.m., http://bit.ly/2U3qCFc.
This past Sunday, I announced that we’re beta testing an additional new system for electronic giving online or on your phone (we’re keeping all the current ways of giving right where they are). Here’s a 34-second introductory video. I really have found it easy to use. Please contact me if you’re interested in helping us beta test this new service.
The following was received from Nancy Gugler, the Chair of the Finance Committee:
The Finance Committee proposed an expendable fund that could be used to facilitate non-cash gifts to the church. The Church Council accepted the proposal and the “The Fund” has been established at the Dickinson County Community Foundation.
- This fund will be helpful for those who wish to give stock to the church. If they give the stock directly to “The Fund” it can be used twice as a tax deduction for the giver. (The giver will not need to pay capital gain taxes on the stock given and will reap the tax benefits of the charitable gift).
- Someone might want to give part of or all of their yearly withdrawal from their IRA or 401K. If they give it to “The Fund” directly from either of them, they have the same advantages as above for tax purposes.
- One could designate that their IRA or 401K be given to the “The Fund” when they die. This would supersede what is in your will.
- If a person designates in a will that they want a percentage of the estate or a set amount be given to “his or her” church, this is a great way to again avoid some taxes.
- You can make a charitable bequest of money, a specific property or even what’s left over after the rest of your estate is settled. This type of charitable gift may qualify the estate for special tax benefits. However, it will be part of the probate process so it might take some time and will be public.
“The Fund” has been established so that any funds put in it can be used at any time for expenses at the First United Methodist Church and the Church Treasurer can ask for whatever amount is needed from it to cover any expense of the church. The money in “The Fund” will grow, tax-free to make the most of each person’s gift.
The Abilene First UMC online giving page has been launched. This secure page has options for viewing on a mobile device and is hosted by Vanco Services. Donations can be made through a checking account or a savings account. (Let us know if you’re interested in giving through a credit or debit card. If there is enough interest we’ll consider expanding the range of payment options) Donations can be set up on either a one time or a reoccurring basis.
We will continue to accept cash and checks on Sunday morning and regular direct EFT contributions through the church office. We are simply hoping to provide online giving opportunities to those who prefer them. You can learn more about online and EFT contributions on the “Giving” page of the church’s website.
To be counted for the year 2014, contributions must be brought into the church office before noon on Wednesday, December 31, 2014, so that the money can be deposited prior to the New Year’s holiday. Any contributions received after the noon deadline on December 31, 2014 will be counted as a contribution for year 2015. If you choose to mail your contribution it must be postmarked by December 31, 2014 to be counted as a 2014 contribution.
This year’s stewardship campaign will be different than in previous years. Instead of the usual campaign which lasts four Sundays, we’ve been preaching on stewardship throughout the year. For this reason we’ll simply use the Sunday before thanksgiving as consecration Sunday and allow people to make a commitment for 2015.
For those who aren’t able to attend, we’ll follow up as we always do. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
It is November, and we are in the middle of a sermon series on stewardship. Because we will soon be encouraging you to carefully consider your giving to the church in 2014, it seems only fair that we share with you what our commitment will be. We believe you deserve to know whether or not we are practicing what we preach. We are committed to giving $8,400.00 in 2014. This represents a tithe on our income in the amount of $7,200 and an additional $1,200 because the church provides us with a parsonage rent free.
Dan Dick has a great post on learning to love as God loves. An excerpt:
“to love as God loves, we must learn to give as God gives – not conditionally or when it is convenient, but sacrificially, consistently, and abundantly.”
The post is well worth your time.
The following is a column by Bishop Scott Jones that was posted on the conference website.
When we ask people to commit their lives to Christ as disciples through membership in The United Methodist Church, we ask them to do so in five ways: prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. By “gifts,” we need to be very clear that we are talking about giving money to God and God’s ministries.
John Wesley’s three rules for the use of money are worth memorizing.
Make all you can. Wesley taught that one must earn a living honestly and without harming others. But gaining wealth is a good thing. One pastor noted in his sermon that the Good Samaritan was only able to be helpful because he had the money to do so. Money is not evil. Indeed, it can be a great force for good.
Save all you can. By this, Wesley did not mean establishing a bank account or a retirement fund, although such frugality is good. He meant reducing your expenditures to the bare minimum. Modern Americans are choked by too many things. Our closets are full, we rent storage units, and we struggle to keep our basements orderly. Adam Hamilton’s book, “Enough,” was a great reminder that most of us have enough and buying more will only create more storage problems for us.
Give all you can. Wesley did not discourage tithing, but it was not the focus of his teaching. He believed that tithing was too legalistic. The real problem with it was tithing may be too much for poor people and tithing may be too little for others. After making all we can and reducing our expenditures—saving—all we can, we should then give all we can.
One of the greatest inspirations of my life was a United Methodist lay person who served on a conference committee with me. After a successful career leading a non-profit organization, he was retired. One night after a meeting, we got into a conversation about money. He told me he was giving away 30 percent of his income. He hoped to increase the percentage in the years ahead.
Another inspiration was my Methodist-preacher grandfather, Arthur Schuldt. He left each of his grandchildren $1,000 with the request that we tithe on that amount. He was teaching us Christian stewardship.
The reason I preach in favor of tithing is that most United Methodists—both preachers and laity—give away far less than 10 percent of their income. We make lots of excuses about why we “need” more things. Thus, I believe tithing is a goal for most Christians. Once you reach that goal, it is time to set a new goal and move toward being as generous as possible. My wife, Mary Lou, and I are giving away 20 percent of our income.
I believe pastors should preach about money and do so regularly. Giving is a spiritual issue that is an important part of our Christian discipleship. When church leaders discourage their pastors from talking about giving, or when local-church practice prohibits pastors from knowing how much which members give, we are blocking an important part of our spiritual lives. Every church should have an annual stewardship campaign that focuses not on what the budget requires but on the joy each Christian should have in giving to the Lord.
Bishop Robert Schnase in his books on the five practices lists “extravagant generosity” as one of the marks of fruitful congregations and fruitful disciples. We should be encouraging each other and challenging each other to be more extravagantly generous this year than we were last year.