Moment for Stewardship: Joe and Barb Elm
We are Joe and Barb Elm. I (Barb) began attending Central Union with my parents and siblings in 1960, and Joe began attending with his parents and siblings in 1967. In 1974 Joe and I were married here at CUC.
We love this church, and here are three of the reasons why:
First, CUC follows Jesus’s three instructions to us. Jesus said: (1) Love God; (2) Love each other; (3) “Follow Me”, meaning do what Jesus did: Help the poor, help the needy, help the sick, help the despondent, and help the other marginalized groups. That’s all! Nothing else – there is no number four!! Jesus never said hate this group, discriminate against that group, oppress this group, dominate the other group.
Our second reason for loving CUC is that over many decades, our congregation has carried out many worthwhile missions and ministries that help people.
And our third reason for why we love CUC is that the makeup of the congregation reflects the makeup of our state of Hawaii. That is, CUC has people from every economic group, every educational level, every political party, every social level, every age, and every ethnic group, which happens to mean that no one ethnic group is in the majority at CUC just as in our state of Hawaii.
For several weeks now, we have all been hearing different people talk about “The Three Ts”, right? Barb and I, too, give of our Time, Talent and Treasure because we believe that God has blessed us so much that the only response we can give is to be generous with our Time, Talent and Treasure.
However, it hasn’t always been like that. In the early years of our marriage, we struggled financially, despite working multiple jobs!! We mistakenly believed that if we didn’t have extra money to put into the offering plate, then we weren’t worthy to come to church. Later, we realized that giving money was not the only way to give to the church. So, various family members did volunteer work. We discovered that the Time and Talent parts are just as important as the Treasure part.
Decades since then, we of course have learned that it’s not the amount of money you give; it’s the “regular commitment”, no matter how small. Let me say that again: It’s the regular commitment!! Some people will pledge $1000 a month; some will pledge $500 a month; some will pledge $50 a month; and some will pledge $20 a month. However, if you can only afford $1 a week, that’s great, and make it a regular commitment! That one little dollar adds up to $52 in a year! Is that still more money than you have to give? Then, how about 50c a week? And make it a regular commitment!! You are still loved by God just as much as the person who can give $1000. Regular commitment is the key, so pledge what you can afford, no matter how small an amount.
Stewardship is about being grateful and responsible stewards of the gifts we receive from God. The tradition of giving back to God and to the church comes from the Biblical practice of “tithing,” which means to give back a tenth of our earnings to God. But in Hawaii where we have such a high cost of living, 10% is really hard to do for many families, especially when the two or three incomes in the household can’t even cover the basic necessities. However, stewardship is more than simply contributing money to the church; it’s also about contributing our time and talents through volunteering for ministry and mission with a spirit of generosity.
There are so many opportunities to volunteer and share your time and talents, such as the “Serving Aloha” food distribution every Wednesday, preparing hot meals for our neighbors with Community Ministry on the second Tuesday each month, helping at the Thrift Shop, helping the Flower Committee, supporting the Children or Youth Ministries, helping with “welcome and engagement”, helping with reception at the church office, reading in worship… Do you have another skill or gift that you can offer? Maybe there’s something you’re interested in doing that’s not happening at the church now, but you could be the one to start it!
Stewardship is about reaching out to build relationships from a perspective of abundance instead of scarcity. Generosity is the spirit with which we respond to the needs around us, including but not limited to finances. Stewardship and generosity intersect in the simple fact that stewardship depends on the resources provided by generosity.
As you know, Pastor Rushan’s theme for this month has been “The Heartbeats of Our Church”. As we reflect on how we can support the mission and ministry of Central Union Church, let’s think about the focuses of each of his sermons so far about the heartbeats of our church: (1) Worship. (2) Service. (3) Caring. (4) Mission.
Our challenge to you is to take the time to pray and reflect about the ways in which you can give generously of your time, talent and treasure to build God’s kingdom of love, peace, healing and hope in our world today, as we seek justice for all people!
Aloha Ke Akua!