I’ve become accustomed to the teasing, and I assure you I don’t mind. Recently, a family member inquired if I planned to collect an offering at my daughter’s upcoming wedding! I assured them I had not planned such…but now that they had mentioned it…
A lot of ministers—television ministers, reputably—talk about money out of greed. I talk about money from a context of poverty, need, spirituality and principle. I spent the greater years of my childhood below the poverty line. I see the needs in our church and community. I know that generosity is a spiritual practice that strengthens our dependence on God and our connection with humanity. I do not make money a matter of conversation out of personal greed.
It is also a matter of principle…Baptist principle. Many of you have asked if our church will take advantage of the government assistance programs being offered to businesses and non-profits. The church staff, deacon officers and core committee chairs have all discussed this option and have decided not to apply for these funds. The reasoning is as follows:
1) In principle, it breaches the cherished Baptist idea of separation of church and state. We do not judge other churches who feel differently, but we do not feel the church should lean on the government for her support.
2) Ethically, there are other businesses and non-profits who are not as solvent as we are. If we took funds—when we really do not need them—we would be depriving other entities of needed funds.
3) Practically, if funding is received by businesses and non-profits, and they are able to retain their employees, these employees can in turn support the work of their respective faith communities with their tithes and offerings. This is as it should be.
We are each feeling the impact of the Covid-19 crisis to different degrees. If you are able, continue to be faithful in your regular gifts or give a little more than you typically give. I am not comfortable asking our government for money, but I do not mind encouraging you to support the work of your church. She is at the height of her relevance and efficiency during times of crisis. We are faithfully continuing to create spaces for God to do God’s work.