"Askings" for more generosity this season

"Askings" for more generosity this season


“Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver.”        2 Corinthians 9:7
I bet you have been flooded with year-end requests for giving from nearly every possible organization for just about every cause under the sun. Many of those requests came unbidden. Some are from organizations you never have or never would support. Others come from groups connected to your passions, your deep sense of what needs to happen to make the world right. While others come from the institutions and organizations that you feel deserve your support, those you feel an obligation to support.
I will confess, I have often felt the church to be in that last group, the group I feel obliged to support. I wish I had a magic keyboard that would produce just the right words that would make what I am writing jump off the page and inspire you in ways that reach deep within your soul and make you feel compelled to respond. I don’t have such a keyboard. I don’t have great and inspiring words to motivate you. What I have is a simple appeal. A few words that ask you to consider a way to give that might make a difference.
Many of you have heard of “The Askings.” This is a short list of Annual Conference approved special funds set up so that important and vital ministries can happen across the conference but are not included in the “regular” budget of the Annual Conference. They are funds for Campus Ministry, the Vital Church Project,  Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Hispanic Ministries, and District Church Extension Society. Many of these ministries used to be part of the budget which is apportioned to the churches, but they ended up being moved from the budget to the Askings in order to keep the budget within a reasonable range. The hope has always been that churches would want to step up and support these ministries.  They are listed every month in your church's monthly remittance statement from the Annual Conference.
The sad truth of the matter is that most of these funds are lucky to get 25% of their approved amounts in any given year. I must confess that when I was in the local church these Askings were not seen as critical and were often left to the end of the year to be considered if we had any money left to give. Most years I would ask the Finance team to include them as one of the highlighted items in our annual “Christmas” letter. I cannot remember serving a church that paid their full Askings every year.
I don’t want to put pressure on you and your church. I am not trying to make you feel bad or guilty or in some way like a failure. What I want to do is hold up one possible way to have your extra holiday giving make a difference. Please consider the Askings if you are making an extra gift at this time of year. Pick one of them or all of them and on your check to your local church simply use the memo line “Askings.” If your church finds itself in a place where you have some surplus, consider using it for your Askings.

All these ministries deserve our support and I pray that you and your congregation will give to them with a cheerful heart.
A blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to all!

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Tim Overton-Harris

The Rev. Tim Overton-Harris is the Cascadia District Superintendent, supporting 47 congregations and two Hispanic ministries.

Boldly Making Disciples of Jesus Christ - Vitalizing the Church - Transforming the World