When I think on my history of pledging and giving at St. Mark’s the verse from 1st Corinthians 13:11 comes to mind: “When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” By God’s grace, my views on and response to pledging and giving have changed significantly since I joined in 2005—my first independent church membership as an adult.
I have always been well-intentioned but poorly disciplined with pledging and giving. I pledged every year but my follow-through was spotty. I’d often be sitting in church at the beginning of offering and realize, “dang, I didn’t bring my envelope or a check!” I felt bad but not enough to change my behavior since it seemed my small pledge didn’t make that big of a difference anyway. The advent of automatic deduction is just the solution for me and finally my actual giving will match my pledge.
The first Grace Upon Grace capital campaign began not long after I joined St. Mark’s. At the time my feelings about pledging to a capital campaign were more ambivalent than pledging to the General Mission Fund. I was really only involved in middle school Sunday school and Confirmation and from that limited perspective I didn’t really see the rationale for a 9,000 square foot addition. To be honest, I thought the whole project was a bit frivolous and inward focused. I grew up in a small church with 1.5 FTE and strong lay leadership in a building which hadn’t been significantly remodeled since 1950. All of which undoubtedly colored my views. On top of those views, I thought my career and education plan would take me away from Tacoma in a year or two. I didn’t see the reason to pay for a building I wouldn’t be using. Just writing these words makes me cringe now.
In the time since, I have become much more involved at St. Mark’s serving on ministry teams, attending Bible studies, Wednesday church night, and Sunday morning adult classes at 11:00. These activities and the relationships built through them have been a true lifeline during some very difficult times in my life the last two years. I can’t imagine where I’d be spiritually, emotionally, and mentally today without the St. Mark’s community. The variety and frequency of these opportunities is available due to both our new space and the size of our staff. My views on the new building and the size of our staff have done a complete 180. Another prime example of the benefit of the new space is the Christmas program and potluck. For the second year in a row, we’ve been able to have an all-church dinner. What a privilege for a church our size!
I now understand the talk about giving with an attitude of gratitude. This statement never rang true for me before. I mean who really wants to give their money. Now, I am so thankful for everything I have received from St. Mark’s and I want to help ensure those opportunities continue to be available. Whether I am at St. Mark’s for six months or six more years, I am invested in the future of this incredible place for grace. Thus I have decided to pledge to the GUG Mortgage fund for the first time. I humbly see now how the work at St. Mark’s, both internal and external such as Nativity House lunches, are all part of God’s work.