A Theology of Money, Giving, and Stewardship in the Covenantal Community

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and enables our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision.   As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.*

Our living tradition draws upon the wisdom and teachings of religions and human experience around the globe and throughout history.  We seek to liberate minds to search for truth and pursue deeper understanding of our world and our place in the universe.   Our Unitarian Universalist principles call us to act in ways that transform lives and ultimately our world for the better.  We stand boldly on the side of love and justice, breaking through barriers of oppression and intolerance.   Our vision of a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all is an expansive and worthy pursuit.

As Unitarian Universalists, we dedicate ourselves to one another, to promise our mutual trust and support in and among our congregations. It takes a high level commitment of money, time, and leadership to realize our vision and sustain our ministries and programs.  One of the ways we provide support is through our financial giving.   Whether we commit ourselves to a proportion of our income, a weekly contribution through bill pay, or make a generous contribution to the weekly offering, our giving matters.

In community, money flows from and through our interconnected relationships, rich with complexity, attitudes, and motivations.   Money is another form of energy; and at its best, money is dynamic, empowering, and generative, an instrument of transformation.  We do not have to possess a lot of money in order to use what we have in ways that are beneficial and life-sustaining.  Abundance is realized when we appreciate all that comes into our lives and share what we can with intention and good will.   We are blessed and so we are called to be a blessing.

Stewardship is a ministry that involves money and giving.  However, stewardship is much broader in scope than fundraising, and requires a highly relational and pastoral approach in dealing with people and their relationships with money.  Hospitality, careful management of resources, and the pursuit of a clear vision and mission are essential practices in congregations practicing effective stewardship.

Giving and generosity are matters of the spirit and at the heart of stewardship.  Giving is a spiritual discipline, a practice that reflects one’s religious values, spiritual depth and maturity.  Becoming a generous person involves a lifelong, developmental process which begins in infancy and evolves with each experience of receiving and giving.

Giving money tends not to be a rational process; rather it is an emotional response to being asked to contribute or the impulse to give out of gratitude.

Being generous is a way to help take care others and a way to say thank you to the universe for everything we are given.

There is a direct relationship between one’s deepest held values and the motivation to give.  We contribute our time and resources to those things that matter most in our lives.  Therefore, our money and our giving have greater impact when we are intentional about how we express our beliefs and values.       

Bank ledgers and budgets are moral documents and testaments of our values.  Giving grows as commitment grows, and even more often, commitment grows as giving grows.

Our congregations are communities in which the economy of grace invites us all to do all we can with joy and gratitude to be able to offer our gifts.

May it be so.

*An excerpt from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Covenant to affirm and promote its principles and purposes.  http://www.uua.org/beliefs/principles/index.shtml

With sincere appreciation to Ellen Skagerberg, Rev. Naomi King, Kelley Housman, Jim Mason, Gretchen Haley,  Kelly Belanger Harris, and Rev. Katie Farrell Norris  for the quotes used in this essay (italicized lines), and to the many participants of the UU Stewardship Lab on Facebook, who so generously contribute their ideas and resources.