The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away much we share as a community of faith. What I miss most is the ability to gather in our sanctuary to worship and in our Fellowship Hall to enjoy a meal and companionship with church family. It has also brought a new sense of uncertainty and fear about the future as the economy and employment situation continues in a not so great place, and a vaccine and return to some sort of normalcy still seems far off.
To me, the year 2020 feels like a year of scarcity rather than abundance.
Our current predicament certainly was affecting my frame of mind as I thought about our money story here at GPPC, particularly the call to consider the resources we share alongside needs we perceive in the world around us - and to reimagine for a moment, what new thing(s) might God be calling us to address or do.
And then my work with the GPPC Endowment Foundation came to mind, and my perspective shifted dramatically. If you're not familiar with our Endowment: it was established in 1975 by church visionaries who wanted to encourage gifts and bequests in order to extend the mission and work of the church without diminishing regular giving. They also wanted to put in place a mechanism for responsible financial stewardship to support the long-range needs of our church.
The GPPC Endowment is an amazing part of our money story, and a tangible and constant reminder that God gives abundantly. Over time, it has helped us think more expansively about our local mission ministries (Block Party, community garden, Yoga classes) and support of global missions (special needs of Ruth Brown’s work in the DCR and Ghana, the Venezuelan Mission Food Network). It has helped us weather difficult financial times by providing support for regular church operations when needed, reducing the stress and narrow thinking which can occur in those times. And it has provided additional funding for important projects beyond our budget capacity which help us look to the future with renewed enthusiasm (renovation of the organ, the Capital Campaign). What a wonderful expression of the generosity of those who came before us, and the grace of God in our church life!
In my money story ruminations, I came to believe that our focus on the “long-term” has maybe led us to be too conservative in our regular annual allocation of funding to GPPC from the Endowment. And I wondered what energy could be freed up if we explicitly wanted to be known more for what we allocate from the Endowment than what we accumulate in it. (On average we have allocated 4% per year over the past 10 years. Many Endowments have followed a 5% payout rule for decades based on guidance from the IRS.)
Make no mistake, we are called to be and have a financial obligation to be good stewards of our Endowment for the benefit of future generations. And I recognize that we have made significant grants outside of our annual allocation for occasional extraordinary needs (such as the organ renovation and capital campaign). But might just a slight change in perspective to focus on allocating as much as we can help us look more boldly for opportunities, even prepare for opportunities, to be more generous with our Endowment funds? What impact could we have with an additional $10,000-$13,000 each year?
As Izzy Rogers would say, “We certainly don’t need “bigger barns.” And as Carla would say, “Jesus, I want to believe more in sufficiency, rather than scarcity and abundance. Help me with my unbelief!”
Amy and Rick Clark are long time members of GPPC. Amy has served as President of the GPPC Endowment Foundation Board for 20 years. She is particularly grateful for the talented and committed Board Members over the years who have helped make the Endowment such a vital and positive force in the life of our church.