When I read Elizabeth O’Connor’s book, Call to Commitment, I was deeply moved by it and shared it with my husband Dave, but only in retrospect have I realized how much it has affected our lives. The book is about the Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC, which was founded as a single congregation in 1947 and is now a network of eight independent, ecumenical Christian faith communities.
As impressed as we were by their ministries, it was their attitude about money that reverberated in our souls. When that little band of Christians started a new ministry they pledged both their time and their money to it, even getting bank loans if need be to meet their financial pledges. Never more than 150 members, the Church of the Saviour community has birthed more than 70 outward missions with current total annual operating budgets of more than $25 million and real estate holdings worth more than $150 million.
That church’s requirements for membership include meeting God daily in scripture reading and prayer, worshiping weekly, being a vital contributing member of one of the mission groups, and giving proportionately, beginning at a tithe of their incomes.
The requirements – and that isn’t all of them – have kept many people from joining the church although they have affiliated with it and worked side by side with members without making that commitment. Like those non-members, I know myself well enough to recognize that I am not disciplined enough to consistently meet the daily scripture reading and prayer requirements, nor to see to it that I attend church weekly regardless of where I am in the world. But both my husband and I have found the direction we needed for growing in our faith through long-term membership as contributing members and leaders of mission groups in our own church in Oregon, as well as through proportional giving of our income.
It is those two disciplines which have given us the courage we needed to take on projects which initially had us saying, “You’ve got to be kidding, Lord. You want us to do what?” Once we recovered from the shock of being asked to do something we felt totally unprepared to take on, the experiences that followed our saying yes have helped us grow in our faith while providing a wonderful, joy-filled retirement for us. Part of that post-retirement includes serving on the Board of Directors of Faith and Money Network, one of the 70 ministries birthed by the Church of the Saviour.
Margaret Meade, the anthropologist, is reported to have said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” We at Faith and Money Network are committed to changing the world by changing attitudes about money and the uses of it. Information on all of our programs and publications is available on this website.
If you would like to join us on our June Trip of Perspective to Haiti as we explore what it means to be a “have not” in that poor but beautiful country, or if the discussion of finances is uncomfortable for you for any reason, we invite you to walk with us down this road of coming to grips with and understanding our culture’s attitudes about money and the way it is used, as well as how to use it to make a difference in the world.
Blessings for the Journey,