With Stewardship and Annual Giving Season upon us, we often hear the expression “giving of time, talent and treasure.” How many of us actually stop and give more than a passing thought to what this actually means?
Foremost of these gifts, of course, is treasure. While time and talent are vital components of our parish life together, in part because they represent a true giving of ourselves, at the end of the day we can only pay for our clergy and staff, or utilities or communion wine, with dollars. We take great pride in our outreach ministries, knowing we are aiding the lives of so many who are well outside the borders of COS. We revel in the beauty of our buildings and grounds as they provide us each with our own personal sanctuary every time we step on campus. We have come to rely on these elements that make up the whole of COS and would like to believe they will always be here, but given the reality that we are now smaller (but no less mighty), my belief is that we, collectively and as individuals, need to look at creative ways to give.
We all have varying degrees to which we can contribute to our parish. Some are fortunate to have more disposable income than others, while certain members of our congregation are no longer working and have more free time in their week. We are blessed to have folks in our midst who have skills or expertise from which we have benefited. The beautiful display case at the back of our church, the flowers lovingly grown in the Sacred Garden and used on Sundays, or the terrific COS finance presentation some of us took in at a recent Forum are just a few examples of gifts given by people with time and talent.
Maybe you have already gone through the exercise of determining whether you are pledging all you reasonably can. As a fellow parishioner, I thank you. However, I believe we are now at a time and place in the evolution of our parish where we all need to give of treasure AND time AND talent. I’d like to offer the idea that there are ways to give in the latter two ways that still equate to treasure.
The best example I can offer is the flowers for Sunday services that are grown in the Sacred Garden and purchased at the downtown L.A. Flower Mart, instead of the more expensive option of San Gabriel Nursery. They represent funds that are not spent but that are equal in importance to donations that are given. The dedication of our Altar Guild is the reason these savings occur, but what can the rest of us do in a similar fashion? The real answer is that anything any of us can contribute in time and talent that translates into dollars saved is noteworthy and represents creative giving. Creative giving can mean attending fundraisers whenever possible, contributing prepared food (which might otherwise need to be purchased) to parish events, or volunteering to help in the church office or on campus projects. Heck, even as I write this, members of the Stewardship Committee are making phone calls to folks who have yet to pledge, another great example of creative giving.
I would propose the premise that regardless of financial circumstances, age, or physical limitations, all of us can creatively give, with the only real limitation being desire and imagination.