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.
On Sunday, October 23, we will begin a church wide worship emphasis called Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity. Over a period of five weeks, we will look at some of the financial challenges facing us as a nation and examine our own spending, saving, and giving habits. In addition to exploring biblical principles of financial management, we will learn ways to assess our financial situation and develop a financial plan that will allow us to experience the true joy that comes through simplicity and generosity. At the end of the emphasis, we will have the opportunity to make personal commitments of giving for the coming year. We will consecrate these commitments on Sunday, November 20. If you are interested in being a part of an Enough small-group study, there is a group that is meeting at 6:30 pm Tuesday evenings. This week the group will be discussing chapter 1. If you would like to participate in a discussion of the book online, visit our website, http://www.coffeyvillefirstumc.org, to sign up.
Stress. Anxiety. Fear. These words capture well the state of mind of many of us in America today. We have witnessed dramatic market losses, the collapse of the world’s largest insurance company, and many bankruptcies and mergers. Every day seems to bring another piece of economic uncertainty.
A recent survey found that over three in four Americans are stressed about the economy and their personal finances. Half were worried about providing for their family’s basic needs. Over half of respondents reported feeling angry and irritable, and reported lying awake at night worried about this. The report concludes that, “The declining state of the nation’s economy is taking a physical and emotional toll on people nationwide.”1
Join us in worship the next five weeks for a sermon series entitled Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity. Our nation is experiencing what many have described as the “American Nightmare.” Increasing consumer debt, declines in savings, lower income growth, and a volatile stock market are all a part of our economic insecurity. We have lived in a society that tells us “you deserve it now,” whether or not we can afford it or really even need it.
All of us have struggled with these issues at one time or another. They are important issues that we cannot ignore. This is why, over the next five weeks, we will be having a church wide study and worship emphasis called Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity. During this time we will explore what the Bible teaches us about financial management through corporate worship and small group study. We’ll hear expert advice and stories about what others have learned by working through financial challenges. Each week we will provide you with some practical tools you can use to assess your financial situation and develop a financial plan with a biblical foundation.
At the conclusion of the emphasis, we will have the opportunity to make personal commitments of our offerings to God through our church in the coming year. We will consecrate these commitments in the worship service on Consecration Sunday (see the schedule that follows).
We hope you will join us in the coming weeks as we look at how we can manage our financial resources and truly experience simplicity, generosity, and joy.
Schedule of Events:
Tuesday, October 18 6:30 p.m. — Book Study Chapter 1
Sunday, October 23 Faith in the Midst of Financial Crisis
Tuesday, October 25 6:30 p.m. — Book Study Chapter 2
Sunday, October 30 When Dreams Become Nightmares
Tuesday, November 1 6:30 p.m. — Book Study Chapter 3
Sunday. November 6 Wisdom and Finance
Tuesday, November 8 6:30 p.m. — Book Study Chapter 4
Sunday, November 13 Cultivating Contentment
Sunday, November 20 Defined by Generosity — Consecration Sunday
We invite you to both the “in person” book study in Room 102 and the online discussion. To join the Book Study online discussion, please go to http://www.coffeyvillefirstumc.org.
Regardless of whether or not you can participate in the book study, extra books are available for those who want them.
On Thursday, I learned from Vanco, the company that manages our online and electronic giving, that they’ll be adding a page specifically formatted for smartphones, iPads, etc. Hopefully, we’ll will be up and running within a week. They’ll provide a QR code that we can print in the bulletin to take your smartphone straight to it.
Our online giving page has been launched with Vanco Services. Donations can be made through a credit card, a debit card, a checking account, or a savings account. (Giving through your checking or savings account reduces the processing expense for the church.) Donations can be set on either a one time or a reoccurring basis. Yesterday, Jenny was asked if we will continue to accept cash and check on Sunday morning. Yes we will. We are simply hoping to provide electronic giving opportunities to those who prefer them.