Tax time is that time of year we gather all our financial information together to figure out just how much income we made and how many deductions we can find. It is a great time to see just what our GQ – our “Generosity Quotient” - really is. What percentage of our income did we actually give away last year, and to whom?
If you itemize your deductions, take the total charitable deduction number from Schedule A and divide by your adjusted gross income from line 37 of your 1040. This will give you the percentage of your income you gave away last year. The average for all Christian givers is 2.9%. For Christians who attend worship regularly the average is 4.1%. How do you compare? Where would you like to be? What would you be willing to change in your spending patterns to be able to grow your giving to where you would like to be?
The first step is to have a plan. Paul advised the Galatians to set aside something on the first day of each week. Whether it is weekly, monthly or quarterly, a regular pattern of giving will do wonders for our GQ, and we will gain great joy in growing our generosity.
I was once taught that the essence of our work as a Conference and as a denomination is to “minister to the ministries of Jesus Christ in and through our churches” At our national UCC offices we have a Ministry Development Council which holds that same purpose. They are asking for our help so that they can better fine tune their work and develop the resources our churches, clergy and laity need for those ministries. Below is a request from them. Could you take some time before this week ends to respond to their request. Your insight and perspective would be invaluable. Blessings, Don
Do you consider yourself a leader within your church? The Ministry Development Council needs your help!
By Wendy Vander Hart
Associate Conference Minister
A blog by Ann McCann of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
Galvanized by the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and continuing gang violence and murder throughout Massachusetts, many faith communities, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), and nonprofit organizations banded together in January 2013 to form the all-volunteer Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. The goals of the Coalition are to increase public awareness of gun violence and to work for strong, common sense gun laws in
In my own church, First Church Cambridge, UCC, we were drawn to the work of the Coalition in the wake of Newtown and the Boston Marathon bombings and also because of an already existing concern about violence in our city. We wanted to raise our voices and join others in working for safety on our streets and in our schools by all possible means—legislative, social and all others. We realize we must counter the efforts of a well organized and well funded gun lobby that objects to many common sense steps that would make all citizens safer. As one of the
Although Massachusetts has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, and, as a result, the second lowest rate of gun deaths in the US (behind Hawaii), many aspects of existing laws regulating the purchase and licensing of firearms need to be strengthened, to reduce the number of illegal guns in circulation and limit access to them by unsuitable persons. The Mass Coalition identified five priorities for new legislation:
Universal background checks at point of sale every time a gun is sold, including private and gun show sales.
Limit handgun sales to one per month to deter straw purchases and multiple purchases by traffickers.
Share records of adjudicated commitments for mental health and substance abuse with the federal National Instant Check System to prevent sales to individuals committed involuntarily.
Expand the existing suitability standard that currently applies only to the issuance of a License to Carry to the issuance of FID cards as well, so that all information known to law enforcement will be used in determining suitability for gun ownership.
Require law enforcement authorities to attempt to determine, every time a gun is involved in an injury or death, the owner of the gun and where it came from; and to maintain and share that data with public health researchers, policy makers and the general public.
As I write this, we are waiting for action by the
In the meantime, we are preparing to lobby for the five Mass Coalition priorities, and we would welcome new members to the Coalition to join in this effort. The work and influence of the Coalition would be strengthened by many more churches and groups joining, particularly from central and western
We anticipate that Coalition members will be called upon to contact legislators, to ask them to support certain provisions of the anticipated legislation or amendments to it. Such contacts can be brief phone calls and email messages, for which the Coalition will suggest language. These calls will not take much time but do carry tremendous weight. Legislative staff tally them, and legislators seem to pay close attention to what their constituents are telling them. We can be sure that GOAL, the
No matter where your church or home is, your voice is important. Please contact Rachel Lewis of the Mass Coalition at email@example.com if you are interested in supporting the Coalition and this lobbying effort. Please contact me or our minister, the Rev. Dan Smith, if you would like to know more about how this work is being organized in our church.
Submitted by Ann McCann firstname.lastname@example.org, on behalf of Witness Against Gun Violence and Inequality,
Endorsed by the Justice & Witness Council
The United Church of Christ is calling for a day of justice and peace, advocacy and activism. Let’s call our representatives, talk to our neighbors, sign a petition or plant a tree on March 4th and show what enormous difference can be made in small, simple action as we continue to seek to make God’s love and justice real! Learn more here.
Watch this video for inspiration:
This fall, our National Disasters Ministries of the UCC called a new executive director. Zachary Wolgemuth has already begun this ministry. Zach comes to us from the Church of the Brethren’s Disaster Ministry and has served on the national Board of NAVOAD (National Association of Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters). He brings a depth of experience and insight to this work that is extraordinary. We are grateful for his ministry with us.
For the last couple years, the Disaster Resource Team has used its experience with disasters here in New England to develop and fine tune a Disaster Response Protocol for our Conference (read the protocol here). Now we are focusing in on the resources, education and support that our pastors, churches and communities will need to prepare for disasters and trauma.
If you would like to help develop these strategies and resources join us on March 6 from 5-8pm at our Conference center on 1 Badger Road in Framingham. If you can join us, RSVP to Karen Methot at email@example.com.
For the Disaster Resource Team; Don Remick, Jim Tilbe