Matthew’s gospel includes an interesting story in chapter 15. It is the story of a Canaanite mother. We know she had at least one child but very little is known about her otherwise. However, the fact that Matthew captures her story is amazing and we should not miss it. Matthew, who was a tax collector prior to meeting Christ, strikes me as someone who would debunk social norms.
Great is your Faith
Starting the Conversation on Impact
I may sound like a worried person when I say this is a turbulent time we live in, but I believe most of you will agree with the truth behind that statement. From the recent disturbing violence in Charlottesville to other protests, murders, and unimaginable events that are hitting the news waves daily around this great land of ours, times are challenging. As our pastor reminded us Sunday, eight people stepped off of the ark in Genesis 8 and we are all descendants of those people. The only race that matters in the image of God is the human race and we all should strive to ad
When Little Things Mean Big Things
Monday was my birthday. It was a bittersweet day as we lost my dear grandmother last week and her funeral was over the weekend. She was an incredible person; in fact, I shared a little about her a few months ago as I reflected on who first taught me what it meant to be generous (you can read that post here). As my cousin put it when our family gathered to share stories about my grandmother with her pastor, she was "incomparable".
Invest in HOW You Believe
Invest Where You Believe is the slogan of the Moravian Ministries Foundation. It is a slogan or mission statement that resonates with me and speaks to my personal belief as a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe that I should push a significant portion of my charitable donations toward Christ and His Kingdom’s work on this earth. That includes our church and various ministries that serve basic human needs but primarily spiritual needs by sharing the Gospel.
You Want to Tithe, Marvin? You've Got to Be Kidding!
There are events and experiences in our lives that bring God into sharper focus and make us more aware of God's gifts and our responses. The defining event for both Marvin and me was the sudden infant death of our daughter, MaryEllen, in 1960. I was made aware of how much of life I had taken for granted.
For Marvin the clearer focus came some time later when he attended a stewardship meeting in our parish. The speaker for the evening was a Lutheran layman who talked about tithing as an act of gratitude, as a response to God.
In Any Way You Can
I recently walked into a Moravian Church in Pennsylvania and saw a table covered with brightly colored knit caps. It was June, so I assumed they weren't meant for people to use to keep their heads warm. I quickly learned they were "chemo caps" knit by a group of women in the congregation who then take them to patients who are hospitalized at the local cancer center. Behind the table was a bulletin board covered in thank-you cards from people who had received a cap; one of the cards read, "This week has been the worst week of my life.
I am three weeks in and I absolutely love my new role as President of the Moravian Ministries Foundation. So far in my tenure I have met a team of talented people, Laura, Kara and our Board of Trustees, who have supported philanthropy at MMFA and who are committed to the work. I have encountered an outgoing president, Paul, who has welcomed me with such willingness to teach me and encourage me as I grow into the leader of this fine organization which he has loved and cherished over the past 20 years.
Journey to Generosity
Two weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending the Episcopal Network for Stewardship’s (TENS) annual conference at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. TENS has been a valuable resource for me since I started working for the Foundation, and when I took on our stewardship and capital campaign consulting service earlier this year, the time was right for me to attend a TENS program.
Standing With Our Sisters
For almost two years I have had the pleasure of working with the Rev. Patty Garner and Sallie Greenfield as they planned for a capital campaign in the Southern Province to support the work of the Unity Women’s Desk.
On Taxes and Giving Back
I have been talking about giving and philanthropy for a LONG time. Last night I did my taxes. It is a task I truly hate. It’s not the tax bill that bothers me, it’s navigating the process of pulling together three sets of returns – the US IRS and the states of North and South Carolina. I have to prepare two states’ returns because I work in NC, but am a legal resident of SC – the place of our retirement (my wife is already retired there).
Lift Up Thine Eyes
When I started playing field hockey in high school, I had a coach who was constantly reminding us to look up. As new players, we would hold our heads down and stare intently at our sticks and the ball, trying to master the skills needed to effectively move both our bodies and the ball down the field. I can still see and hear the coach as she stood on the sideline yelling, "Heads up! Heads up! Look where you're going!"
Living His Gratitude for a Loving Father
Most of our work involves helping faithful Moravians make their plans for remembering the Church and its ministries in their estate plans. It is rewarding and fun work, but one of the downsides is often the giver never gets to see or watch his or her generosity come alive.
Having Fun Now
Next week I will take four impressive seminarians to Charlotte to have lunch with a generous and faithful Moravian who created a permanent fund. While the original plan called for his fund to be funded from his estate, over a year ago he said, “I don’t want to die to help the Church and the ministries that are important to me. I want to do something while I am alive so I can watch and enjoy the benefits of my plan. I am 85 years old and time is not on my side, but that doesn't mean I can’t have fun now!”
Taking A Time Out
For the past four years, one of my responsibilities with the Foundation has been to work with everyone who invests in the Common Fund. Those files take up about three large drawers and contain set-up documents for the invested funds, any correspondence, yearly updates, and, for many of the funds, how withdrawn money has been spent.
A few months ago I was having a hot dog at one of my favorite places to have hot dogs. No, it wasn’t Fenway Park. It was a local shop. I was sitting there and there was a 9 or 10 year-old sitting near me. Apparently the schools were closed that day. She had two or three books and had her nose in them reading. Her father, the store manager, was nearby. Clearly, while it wasn’t the perfect location to be reading, he decided that it was best to have her nearby and supervised rather than at home alone.
I asked her, “Do you enjoy reading?” She said, “I love to read.”
I Like My Stuff
A few days ago I painstakingly wrapped glass Christmas ornaments in tissue paper and tucked them back into the large bins where we store them from year to year. Each ornament has a story; when my brother and I were born, our parents started an ornament collection for each of us, and those grew every year. One of our mother’s friends traveled frequently all over the world and brought us ornaments from every country she visited.
A New Chapter
I’ve been writing this blog for weeks and it just won’t get written. As my retirement date approaches in a little over a week, I’m not sure what to say about “goodbye” and my feelings are all over the map about it. But here’s what I know to be true: I have had the most incredible experiences and have been honored and blessed by the opportunity to work here at the Moravian Ministries Foundation.
Where Your Treasure Is...
We are pleased to share the following sermon from the Rev. Dr, Craig Troutman, pastor of Raleigh Moravian Church in Raleigh, NC. A graduate of Moravian Theological Seminary, Craig began his pastorate at Raleigh Moravian in 1985.
Thank You, Chi-Chi
At the end of this year, the Foundation and I will sadly see VP Chi-Chi Messick retire. I would like to spend a little time and space talking about Chi-Chi’s contributions.
Let me begin by addressing the often-asked question: How the heck could two vastly different people – personalities, life experiences, approaches to people and situations, non-work interests- work together and for so long?
It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning, the air is cooling, and we’re talking about stewardship in our churches.
In our office we have healthy debates about that word: stewardship. What does it mean? How do we respond to it? Is “philanthropy” an acceptable replacement? How do we better our understanding of our identity as stewards in God’s world?
In his book Stewardshift, Bob Sitze explains stewardship with three characteristics; he writes:
Handwriting on the Wall
I think we’ve all said it sometime or another, but I’m not sure we’ve actually seen it – really seen the handwriting on the wall. In most instances it means that this is what’s going to happen or maybe has already happened.
A History of the Moravian Ministries Foundation
My personality type is to always look and move forward. I honor the past but don’t dwell on or romanticize the “good ole days”. However, institutional memory is different! It focuses on the actions, decisions, issues and results of the development and operation of a business, organization or ministry. Too many times the institutional memory is held by the people involved in these things and is not passed on to the next generation.
The Giving Autobiography
What is your earliest memory of giving and of receiving? Mine involves my grandmother; she took me out to lunch every year on my birthday, letting me pick the restaurant (as a kid that was usually McDonald’s or Arby’s), and then we went shopping and I got to pick out whatever I wanted as long as it was under a certain limit. As an adult I can appreciate that her giving was how we all should give….selflessly. She didn’t make me eat where she wanted to eat (most likely the K&W Cafeteria or the Carriage House), and she didn’t give me something she thought I should have; she let me choose.
A few weeks ago, MMFA hosted our first Stewardship Roundtable here in Winston-Salem. We invited lay leaders from the Northern and Southern Provinces to join us on Friday, August 5, for a daylong discussion of money and the church. Our goals were to share best practices, learn from one another, and get input on how MMFA can improve our Grace, Gratitude and Generosity service.
Money and Ministry: Hand in Hand
We talk a great deal about giving and discuss the pros and cons about using the words “stewardship”, “faithful philanthropy”, or “grace, generosity and gratitude” to capture what people do when they are charitable and support their church or the work of Moravian agencies like the camps, missions, and seminary.
The other side of the giving equation focuses on the care and custody of these gifts. This duty has many dimensions, such as:
Go and Do Likewise
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law?
It Is Enough
Millions of Americans are tuning in to the Summer Olympics in Rio to watch our brilliant athletes as they compete, athletes like Kathleen Miller, the swimmer who won silver while living with Crohn’s disease, and Kristin Armstrong, who won gold for the third time just one day before her 43rd birthday.
That Was the Week That Was
OK, how many of you remember that 60s television show? As the “senior” member of the MMFA staff, I remember it well. Paul, who is a little younger than me, probably does; but Laura, at her young age, probably not.
As I look back on last week, it was certainly memorable and very special. Here’s what happened:
Eastern District Synod Reflections
A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in the Eastern District Synod. As is always the case, there was legislation and the like, but this Synod was quite different. The focus was on ministry: not only talking about it, but actually doing it.
To Live is to Give
We thank Jo Beth Boyles, a member of Bethabara Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC, for being our guest blogger this month. Jo Beth writes:
I was asked several months ago to speak on stewardship on behalf of my family. Since that time I have been in prayer asking the Lord to give me the words He would have me to share.
To Give, To Serve, and to Have Faith
Archbishop Fulton Sheen was an American bishop who became known for his preaching and especially his work on television and radio. In fact, in the 1950s into the 1960s, he may have been the most recognizable Catholic in the United States.
Konnoak Hills' Invitation to Serve the Future Age
For almost a year, we've had the pleasure of working with Konnoak Hills Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC. Konnoak Hills was "established in 1950 to serve the fledgling suburb south of Winston-Salem known as Konnoak Hills. Today the church is closer to the heart of the city as Winston-Salem expands toward the borders of Forsyth County. While its location is very different from its semi-rural past, many values of that earlier day remain unchanged.
An Exercise Program
I’m beginning an exercise program. For those of you who know me well, you might think that’s the last thing I would want to do. Unlike my husband, Jack, who exercises every day, I can always find an excuse to put off physical exercise – I’m too busy, it’s too hot, too cold, too – whatever.
Answering the Call to Do Good Works: Sallie's Story
I think people who make planned gifts are driven to do so because of an empathetic response to the people and conditions around them. They know, regardless of the size of their gift, that it’s their last chance to leave the world a better place than they found it. And, in the case of people of faith, it’s also their special response to the Gospel message.
Earlier this year we helped someone create a very generous planned gift in the form of a $2,500,000 Donor Advised Fund. It is my personal privilege to tell you more about that special person: Sallie Greenfield.
I've been thinking a lot about change lately. Change as my husband and I get ready to move into a new house. Change as my church begins the call process for a new pastor. Change as our country prepares to elect a new president.
Gratitude: There's an App for That!
In his new book “Smarter Faster Better”, Charles Duhigg writes about the importance of gratitude and how focusing on the positives in our lives not only improves our brains, but also improves our relationships and how we view the world. He writes, ”Just five minutes daily is all it takes to rewire your brain and unleash everything great in your life – and it starts with Gratitude! By practicing awareness of the positive things in life, we fight off the brain’s natural tendency to scan for and spot the negatives.
kindliness, humanity, benevolence, love to humankind
Why are faith and philanthropy so important? I think the place to begin is to understand the origins of the words. In this case, I want to focus on the word “philanthropy”. In Latin it is called philanthropia, meaning "kindliness, humanity, benevolence, love to mankind" (from gods, men, or things). Breaking the word down even further, phil means "loving" and anthropos means "mankind".
The Church and Star Wars?
I read the best column today. It’s titled Holy Ship: Four Ways the Church is like the Millennium Falcon. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since the first movie came out in 1978, and just saw the latest installment, so when I saw this title I had to read it.
To condense this column down to its four points, they are:
1. It looks like it’s broken, but it’s not and it will get us where we need to be.
Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, tells the story of the little ocean fish who is swimming frantically and looking for “the ocean”. He eventually meets a wise, older fish and they talk.
“Excuse me,” said the little ocean fish. “You are older than I, so can you tell me where to find this thing they call the Ocean?”
“The Ocean,” said the older fish, “is the thing you are in now.”
“Oh, this? But this is water. What I’m seeking is the Ocean,” said the disappointed fish as he swam away to search elsewhere.
Good Things Take Time
About this time last year, conversations with Jeff Coppage, pastor of Covenant Moravian Church, York Pennsylvania, were really beginning to point in the direction of a capital campaign. We actually started talking in 2014, dreaming about a plan to celebrate the congregation’s renewed interest in mission and outreach. And a very important 50th anniversary would occur in 2015. In 1965, two congregations of modest means, Bethany and Olivet Moravian Churches, joined to form a new congregation, Covenant, a name to reflect their shared commitment.
These past few weeks have been among the most fun, rewarding, emotional and humbling during my time with the Foundation. We were involved in serving two individuals and a couple, all of whom asked for our help and guidance because they wanted to make gifts to ministries of the Church. At the end of the day, their combined generosity totals $4,500,000, with the possibility of more for more ministry in the years ahead.
It’s inspiring to see God’s love at work and each of these people’s desire to freely and unconditionally express their gratitude for the gift of Grace.
I write this two days before Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, which culminates in Easter and the Resurrection. It’s also three days before the vernal equinox and the beginning of spring. Both are powerful images of the triumph over death. Jesus has conquered death for us all and we have survived another winter.
Grace for All!
“Grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15
Mt. Airy, North Carolina is a small town about 3 miles south of the Virginia state line. Settled in the 1750’s, it was first a stop on the road between Galax, VA and Winston-Salem, NC. For Moravians, this area (known as “the Hollow” back then) was a place to stop as mission work began in the Virginia mountains in the 1830’s.
Learning to Lead
This past Saturday, Laura Watson and I attended the Board of Cooperative Ministries’ “Leadership Focus 2016”. Held at Fairview Moravian in Winston-Salem, this all-day event entitled “Living the Essentials”, attracted Moravian pastors and laypersons from across the Southern Province. After the keynote address by the Rev. Dr. Jill Crainshaw from Wake Forest School of Divinity, we could chose from eleven different workshops focusing on leadership for a variety of areas: music, mission, church communication, governance and much more.
Turning 65, Giving Thanks, and Giving Back
Turning 65 has not been as traumatic as I imagined it would be when I was younger, but I have begun to think about the time I have left and my legacy.
Certainly being 65 today is much different than it was for my parents and grandparents. I recently found a picture of my beloved maternal grandparents. They both look so old, yet when the photo was taken they were younger than I am today. Maybe I am in denial – I may really look as they did, but I don’t think so.
This week we're pleased to share the following from Michael Reeves, one of the authors of Creative Giving.
While the concept of estate planning is a relatively new idea, the principles of managing the assets God provides to us are biblical. Although it is not a biblical statement, the following comment, attributed to Andrew Carnegie, is certainly congruent with these principles: The man who dies rich dies disgraced.
This Beautiful Planet
A couple of weeks ago in her blog post, Chi-Chi Messick asked the question “Who am I and why am I here?” That’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot, because I had a health scare in the fall, and began to ponder my own mortality. Fall is a good time for that, because you’re surrounded by things that are at the end of their season. Leaves fall, short-lived annuals die, even the sun recedes from us.
“God’s people want to know that their giving makes a difference in people’s lives.” Charles Lane
While we give in response to God’s generosity, we also like to experience the joy that comes from knowing what kind of ministries our contributions have supported. No one wants to feel like his or her gift has gone into a black hole, but oftentimes that can happen when our churches hesitate to talk about money.
Just to Say Thanks
We're happy to share this post from Rev. Kent Millard, former senior pastor of St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Rev. Millard currently serves as a gratitude coach for congregations in the Midwest and was a part of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving's program that Chi-Chi and Laura took in 2014.
One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. He fell on his face at Jesus' feet and thanked him. Luke 17:15-16
Who Am I and Why Am I Here?
Back in December Jack and I worshiped with our “Greensboro” children at their church, Westminster Presbyterian. It was a special day – the first sermon from their newly installed pastor. The sermon title was provocative: “Who Am I and Why Am I Here?” It was a really great sermon and left me thinking about my own answers to those questions.
Isn’t it interesting, no matter who we are, no matter how old we are, no matter what the circumstances, these two questions are pertinent, relevant and, quite frankly, hard to answer.
The Grandparent Principle
At the Moravian Ministries Foundation, we often suggest to churches and agencies that they tell their stories: who they are, what they believe, their history, the missions and ministries they value, and where they see themselves heading. All of us think, “If I know who we are and what we do, then everyone else does”. Well, despite all we do to tell our stories, the process is continual.
Since October of 2014, I've had the pleasure of working with a dedicated group of individuals at Home Moravian Church who recognized the importance of incorporating planned giving into the Church's year-round stewardship ministry. At our first meeting, the conversation centered around the following questions:
Joy is at the Heart of It
As I reflect on my work with Calvary Moravian in Winston-Salem, a quote from Henri Nouwen came to mind: ”Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” The Calvary congregation has been choosing Joy for the last several months as we’ve worked together to understand grace, generosity and gratitude and the joy it brings to us.
My Three G's
We have been focused on faith and philanthropy within the Christian understanding of grace, gratitude and generosity, so I decided to do some reading about grace, and found this quote:
What is a Blessing?
This week we're pleased to have Rev. Jenny Moran, pastor of Christ's Community Church in Maple Grove, MN, as our guest blogger. Pastor Jenny writes:
When our son, Evan, was four he was sitting in a Children’s Chat led by my mom. Mom asked the kids, “What is a blessing?” Evan piped right up and said, “A blessing is something that falls into your heart!” Poor Mom almost couldn’t finish the Children’s Chat she was so touched.
A Name Changer for Clemmons Moravian
My March 2015 blog was entitled “What’s in a Name?” Working with Clemmons Moravian Church this year, I can tell you more about how changing a name has given energy and a new vocabulary to the church committee, formerly known as the Stewardship Committee. I am delighted that the Grace and Giving Committee decided to begin a year-round focus on Grace, Generosity and Gratitude.
Our staff member Laura Watson has the task of keeping after the rest of us about writing our blogs for the website. It is not an easy task, but her work and the work of the rest of the staff is something I marvel about everyday.
Journey to Contentment
We're pleased to have Charles Forrest, a member at Calvary Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC, as our guest blogger this week. Charles writes:
"But godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6
Which would you choose: contentment or $1,000,000?
Making Good on a Promise
I want to make good on a promise. I promised to share the story of Maxine Gail Garrett, a Moravian woman who lived grace, gratitude and generosity. Her story was one of the focal points of the workshop Laura and I presented at the 12th Moravian Women’s Conference held earlier this year. Many of the women who came to our sessions knew Maxine and some even added stories of their own.
The Foundation's Annual Report to the PECs
This may seem like this an “inside baseball” story, but is very important, because while the Foundation serves the Moravian church, it is also a $150,000,000 non-profit corporation and must act accordingly.
This afternoon I'll pack up the car and head to Laurel Ridge, the Moravian Church, Southern Province's camp, conference and retreat center. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Laurel Ridge has beautiful views, soaring pine trees, star-filled night skies, and so much more.
I write this on September 11, 2015, the 11th anniversary of 9/11. I opened Facebook this morning, as I always do after reading my emails, to find a flood of commemorative postings urging us to never forget. The events of that tragic day have become a symbol, evoking the kind of generalized response that phrases like “Remember the Alamo” call forth. When we read them, we think of the big picture – a nation under attack, evil abroad, the fear that we are not safe. But we sometimes forget the individual details and what the experience must have been like for the people who were
The Balcony View
When I work with congregations in our “Grace, Generosity and Gratitude” stewardship program, I’m often asked these questions: How do we move forward? How do we grow ministry? What do we have to continue to do? What do we have to stop doing? What should we add?
In our churches we often talk about what’s broken – what needs to be fixed. Then, if there’s time left over, we continue to do what we’re good at and what we do well. And what happens? You guessed it. Nothing changes.
An Inspired Conversation
Periodically the Foundation needs a reality check. This is a time when we talk with our stakeholders about our work, share our view of the Moravian world, present information about giving and philanthropy in a larger context, and, most importantly, listen. In the business world some might call this market research. Whatever it is called, we do it to more effectively serve the Church.
Giving AND Living Generously
I recently stumbled upon the following reflection on giving and living generously from Jay Link. Mr Link shares:
"I was ready to board a plane to return home from a business trip. I was first in line and was looking forward to getting comfortable in my first class seat and then “zoning out” on the flight home. (I often get upgraded for free.)
Finding Your Tribe
I had the funniest conversation the other day. I had lunch with a friend. We were going to meet at 1 at a restaurant a block away from the office. That morning, I started working on a spreadsheet gathering data for analysis. It was a bit complicated, and I got completely wrapped up in getting everything in the spreadsheet in an order that would help me come up with the numbers I needed. It was so interesting and I love doing that sort of thing.
Gratitude and Blue Cars
Have you had the experience of learning a new word or having a new understanding of a concept, and suddenly it appears everywhere, all around you? That’s what has happened to me as we’ve begun to use the word “gratitude” as an anchor for our stewardship focus.
Trying to Do Good
Life has been incredibly good to me. Sure, there have been bumps in the road, but no craters. I wish I could say I lived a perfect life, but that would be a lie; I was never bad but I wasn’t always good. For example, there was my summer during college when I worked with college buddies who included an eventual star for the Boston Celtics at a restaurant on Cape Cod…well, maybe that summer recollection is better kept a memory. We all have these stories and experiences; some I laugh about and others I thank the Good Lord for the gift of grace that helped me persevere.
Quietly Finding Space for Grace
I've always been a big fan of Henri Nouwen, Catholic priest, professor, and author who wrote over 40 books on the spiritual life. In his Genesse Diary, Nouwen shares what it's like to live in a Trappist Monastery (where he spent seven months); more specifically, he reflects on his struggles with silence. He writes, "If I could just live the day quietly, then my mind would be more vacant for God and freer for the simple things of every moment."
Gratitide is Riches, Complaint is Poverty
“Gratitude is riches, complaint is poverty.” Isn’t that a wonderful quote? It’s attributed to Doris Day. I ran across it while doing a Buzzfeed quiz online, thus proving that you can learn something valuable from even the silliest things.
Shining Our Light: Moravian Women and Transformative Giving
Recently Laura and I had the privilege of being a part of the 12th Moravian Women’s Conference at the Sandy Cove Conference Center in North East, Maryland. More than 350 women from all corners of the Moravian world came together for 4 days of “Walking in the Light”. Sisters from the Northern and Southern Provinces of the United States were joined by sisters from Canada, Tanzania, Nepal, Albania, Nicaragua, the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Barbados, the Virgin Islands and on, coming together to share what it means to walk in the light.
A Generous and Grateful Response
This past Sunday, June 28, Paul spoke at United Moravian Church in New York, NY. Here is part of his message.
Today I want to talk about three words we at the Foundation have spent considerable time discussing: Grace, Gratitude, & Generosity.
If I had a magic wand, I would use it to rid the word “stewardship” from the church dictionary as it relates to encouraging your support for the ministries of the church. It is, quite frankly, the wrong word.
Good Treasure of the Heart
Last week my husband Mark and I spent time in the mountains of Grayson County, Virginia. I'll admit that one of my favorite things about going up there is I don't worry much about what to pack. We go hiking, canoeing, and biking, so I don't need special outfits to look nice. When we aren't out exploring God's beautiful creation, we're reading, playing board games, or watching birds from the front porch. It's a very relaxing and simple vacation, and I find it refreshing not to think about what I'm wearing or whether my hair is a mess!
My last blog post was about driving to the mountains in the western part of the state. On Saturday, we're heading east for a week at the beach. That's one of the great things about this part of North Carolina - you're only a few hours away from some gorgeous scenery in either direction.
A Delightful Surprise
Isn’t it wonderful to find something you weren’t expecting to find in a place you weren’t expecting to find it? This little bit of serendipity happened for me last week. It was the right thing at just the perfect time.
I’m an avid reader – 1 or 2 books a week – all genres – all authors. I read books that are good for me, that teach me something, and then sometimes I read just for the pure pleasure of it.
Bank CDs Versus the Stock Market
Recently, a church board asked me:
We have our investments in bank CDs. We know they are down now, but we remember when they paid 7%, 10%, or more; also, they are insured. When the stock market bottomed, a lot of people lost a lot of money. So, why should we invest the church’s funds in the stock market?
How Glorious a Greeting
The first week of May had a lot going on this year. The Foundation’s Board of Directors met on Saturday, the 2nd, and, of course, there were the preparations for Star Wars Day, May the Fourth. (As in, May the Fourth be with you. Okay, I heard the groans out there. Knock it off.) I actually managed to find a connection between those two events, which I have to say surprised me a little bit.
ECRF: We Did It!
Laura Watson and I completed our work to each earn an Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising from the Lake Institute of Indiana University School of Philanthropy. Proof of this came a few weeks ago in the form of a congratulatory email from Bill Enright, Director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving. I was reminded of it more recently when I placed the beautiful framed certificate on the wall of my office. I reasoned that if I kept this representation of accomplishment in front of
What Have the MMFA Trustees Been Up To?
I will briefly talk about something that may not seem as exciting as images of Moravian churches and stars, stained glass windows, or Moravian ministry all over the world, but it is vitally important in all we do: the governance of a $150,000,000 and growing charitable organization called the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America.
On Saturday, May 2, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees met at Grace Moravian Church in beautiful Mt. Airy, NC. They meet twice a year, rotating between the Northern and Southern Provinces.
Sing a New Song
For the past two weeks I've been driving up to Mt. Airy, North Carolina, each morning to work with Grace Moravian Church. As I make my way north, I find myself flipping through radio stations and not recognizing a lot of the songs I hear. I also find myself longing to hear songs I know, as they are ones I can sing along to, and that remind me of a person, a particular time in my life or a feeling.
I’ve been thinking about church management lately. That has been prompted partly by staffing changes at my own church, but also by some discussions we’ve had in the Foundation office recently. Just in general, it’s a topic I find interesting, in large part because the bulk of my working life has been spent working in non-profit management in some form, and church management is a form of non-profit management.
King Moravian: Looking to the Future
It's after 8:30 pm on a Wednesday evening in March and I'm finishing up the sixth day of interviews with King Moravian Church members, gauging their interest in and support for a capital campaign. As I walk to my car, I see that the sanctuary doors are open. As I walk closer I hear music wafting through the air - “Bethany, thou peaceful Habitation". It’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s just days before Holy Week begins and the 30-plus member choir is rehearsing for Holy Week and Easter Services.
On the Road Again
Recently I was on the road, traveling to Deforest, Wisconsin (via Milwaukee) then to West Salem, Illinois (via St. Louis). It was a long trip with connecting flights in Atlanta and Detroit. Frankly, the flying part was for the birds, but the visits and work with Christian Faith Moravian Church in Deforest and West Salem Moravian Church are very exciting.
Rich Toward God
This week, as I was culling the internet in search of thought-provoking quotes for the Foundation's Facebook page, I found two that really spoke to me. The first is from John Wesley, who we all know as one of the founders of the Methodist Church.
We are happy to share Rev. Christine Johnson's reflections on John 2:13-22 from the 3rd Sunday in Lent. Rev. Johnson is the pastor of Fry's Valley Moravian Church in New Philadelphia, Ohio.
What's in a Name?
I’ve been working with the Grace and Giving Committee of Clemmons Moravian Church. Pretty nifty title, I think, and I don’t remember hearing a church committee with that name. It was, however, formerly known as the Stewardship Committee. Now that’s a name you are familiar with, I’m sure.
This energetic and “can do” group was inspired not only to choose a new name, but also to choose a new way. Together we have strategized and planned activities to promote generosity and gratitude throughout 2015.
Kernersville Moravian and the Three G's
Grace, Generosity, and Gratitude. These were the focus of our season of Stewardship this past fall at Kernersville Moravian Church, and we are grateful to Chi-Chi Messick of the Moravian Ministries Foundation who led us through this process. Each Sunday School class was given an opportunity to experience a special education session with Chi-Chi, and this was a time of learning and sharing insight into Grace, Generosity, and Gratitude at work in our lives and within our congregation. People of all ages were encouraged to participate in this special time of prayer, education, and planning.
Meet Dave and Miriam Devey
I was in Bethlehem recently and I stopped by to see my dear friends Dave and Miriam Devey. Dave had become ill and was in the nursing home wing of Moravian Village. And, his companion and loving wife Miriam was at his side, carrying for her beloved husband.
If you don’t know the Deveys, you are missing out on special couple. And, if you do, then you know what I mean.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
February is my favorite time of year at the Foundation. Why? It's the month when we mail out distributions from the permanent funds we manage. These funds benefit Moravian churches and agencies, as well as other ministries and organizations which were or are important to the people who established the funds.
Changing That Light Bulb
You know all the jokes about changing light bulbs:
How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.
How many Zen masters does it take to change a light bulb? None. The universe spins the bulb and the Zen master stays out of the way.
How many optimists does it take to change a light bulb? None. They're convinced the power will come back on soon.
Come and See
We thank Justin Rabbach, Director of Mission Engagement for the Board of World Mission of the Moravian Church in North America, for allowing us to share his message, which was given at Home Moravian Church a few weeks ago.
Scripture: John 1:43-51, Psalms 139:1-6, 13-18
Looking Back and Looking Ahead
I like January and the excitement of the New Year. I like looking forward to a new day, a new year, a new chance. It’s the gift of a new start and contemplation of new opportunities.
But it’s also a time to look back and take stock. What have we learned? How can we do better and do more? As I take a look forward and back, I’m excited and challenged. Here are a few highlights from 2014 and a look ahead to 2015.
In Memory of Maxine
On Christmas Eve the Church lost a leader and benefactor, and I lost a dear friend. Her name was Maxine Garrett.
Maxine grew up in Indianapolis where she entered banking and was active in the Moravian Church. While in Indianapolis, she became friends of then Mayor Richard Lugar, who eventually served in the US Senate. It was a friendship that would last for years.
On Vikings and Going Under
There is a story about a group of Viking warriors who were ordered by their king to join him when he converted to the Christian faith through the waters of baptism. As they waded out into the nearby river to be baptized, they all went under the water while holding one of their arms high above their heads. If they had been asked why they were doing this, the warriors would have answered that they did not want the arm and hand that bore the sword to go under the water, for they had been taught that whatever goes under the water belongs to God.
Yes, I know it's still Advent, and a few days early to be wishing anybody a merry Christmas, but I'd better say it while I have time. This is an insanely busy time of the year for everyone. We all have so much that has to be done to prepare, and Christmas seems to come around faster every year. My church choir does a big Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols the last Sunday before Christmas, which requires us to prepare a lot of music, and we're at the "will it EVER pull together?" stage right now. It will - it always does - but we always go through a panicky week or two getting there. A
A Little More on Grace, Generosity and Gratitude
In the coming weeks you will hear more about our 2014 Adamson Forum during which we talked honestly about money and the Church. Be watching for articles by Mike Reiss and Laura Watson in the December issue of The Moravian magazine. We also plan to share comments from participants who shared their views and takeaways for our time together.
At this time of year it's normal for us to look back at all that's happened (and to wonder where the time went!), but today I want to talk about the future and what we hope and still need to accomplish. Here are a few of the MMFA's goals for 2015:
Make a Joyful Noise
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100
We thank Rev. Rick Sides, pastor of Home Moravian Church, for allowing us to share what he wrote for the church's November newsletter. From Rev. Sides:
I Love To Tell The Story
Growing up in the Baptist church, I frequently played and sang the hymn "I Love to Tell the Story". We sing it in the Moravian Church as well, though not with the same frequency. We Moravians may sing it occasionally, but we don't "tell it" enough.
Moravians Doing the Lord's Work (and Not Making a Big Deal About It)
Non-Moravians love the Moravian Church! So let me share a story. Throughout the Ministries Foundation's history, we have helped a number of Christians make gifts to Moravian churches and agencies. Recently, we helped a Baptist (who attends a United Methodist Church) to create a gift annuity which will eventually benefit Sunnyside Ministries, the Moravian agency funded entirely with private donations that serves Winston-Salem, NC's South Side.
When I hear the word "belongings", I immediately think of my 3rd grade teacher at Brunson Elementary School. She was ancient, of course (although probably only in her 40's!), and wore her hair in a bun. At the end of every school day, she would stand at her desk as we were getting ready for dismissal and say, "Be sure to collect all your belongings and take them home with you. I don't want to see any of your stuff left behind on the floor." As an adult I can appreciate that sentiment; as an 8 year old, however, I found it stressful.
I've Been Lying About Money
This week we're sharing a thought-provoking post from Tim King, Chief Strategy Officer for Sojourners.
I’ve been lying about money.
No, I’m still lying about money. But, I’m getting better.
Couples fight, families fight, and our nation fights over what we do with our money (or lack thereof). Take a look at political campaigns. Story after story is written about who gives, who doesn’t, and whether it matters.
Gratitude and Whole Hearted Living
There's been this thing on Facebook the last month or so in which people are challenged to three (or five, or seven) days of gratitude. They're supposed to list a certain number of things each day for which they are grateful for however many days they are given. It's a nice exercise, and one we might want to extend beyond the days we're challenged to by our friends.
"We're Ready. Let's Do It!"
17 years ago this past August, I started work with what would eventually become the Moravian Ministries Foundation, and I have felt blessed every single day. Often I say I feel like I died and went to heaven; it is amazing and I know I am fortunate. But why? It comes down to two things: the people and the work itself. This week I had another experience where these two “things” intersected for seemingly the zillionth time.
Moravian Women Shining Their Light
Next June, from the 25th to the 28th, Moravian women from across North America and all over the world will come together for the 12th Moravian Women's Conference in Sandy Cove, Maryland. The conference theme is Walk in the Light, from Isaiah 2:5, which says, "Come...let us walk in the light of the Lord."
It's Time to Talk About....
Paul, Laura and I have had two very productive meetings with the South Branch RCC. For our Northern Province readers, the 2010 Southern Province Synod created Regional Conferences of Churches (or RCCs), which are small clusters of congregations and fellowships that meet together to enable communication, build unity and expand community throughout the Province.
A Gift That Benefits Both the Church and You
If you are considering making a gift to a Moravian church or agency, and you have stock which you have held for more than one year which has appreciated in value, thus making it capital gain property, you might want to consider making a stock gift. In most cases, contributions of capital gain property can be tax-deductible at the fair market value on the day the gift is made. For more specific information, please see page 11 of IRS Publication 526 - Charitable Contributions. Please note that we are no
A Call to Serve Comes to Life
For almost 17 years the Moravian Ministries Foundation has focused on one goal: generating more financial resources to support the ministry God calls the Moravian Church to do. Through 2014, over $100,000,000 has been given or committed to this purpose. And the cost of doing this has been less than 6.5 cents for every dollar raised!
Giving Thanks for Moravian Education
Our story begins 248 years ago when a group of young Moravian women walked more than 500 miles from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to join the new community of Salem in North Carolina. Today it is difficult for us to imagine what that journey must have been like, but we know it took incredible courage, strength, and faith.
Yesterday my colleague Laura Watson shared her excitement and joy in receiving a thank-you note from a donor she had assisted in making a gift to her church. As she read the note to me, I shared Laura’s joy almost as if I had received the note myself. Thank-you notes are that powerful.
What Has Grace Meant to Me?
There are so many meanings to the word "grace". As a famously accident-prone person (six broken bones and counting) who frequently walks into door frames without noticing they're there, it's definitely not my name. "Grace" might mean that it's only six broken bones and not eight or ten or sixteen. "Graceful" can mean not only moving in a coordinated, elegant way, but presenting a graceful figure, one that is well-proportioned and pleasing to the eye. Grace can be a form of address - "Your Grace" - or a prayer said over food, or a note used as a musical decoration - a grace note - or any
2nd Quarter Performance Commentary
We are happy to share the 2nd Quarter Common Fund Performance Report, which coincides with the 10th Anniversary of our relationship with Kaspick/TIAA-CREF. It is a relationship we are delighted to have and maintain.
Thank you, thank you, thank you
If you were asked to make a list of the most generous people you know, who would be on it? Why? Are they people who give of their finances, time and talent, or both?
Bad News Good News
The line goes: “What do you want to hear first? The good news or the bad news?” Most of us want the good news first, so here goes. According to “Giving USA 2014”, a report published by the Giving USA Foundation and its research partner, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, charitable giving is up for the fourth consecutive year. The report shares that Americans gave an estimated $335.17 billion (yes “Billion” with a B) to charity in 2013.
Investing Where I Believe
September of this year will mark thirty years since I started my last year as a full-time student. The 1984-85 school year saw me complete a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Texas to add to the Bachelor of Music I earned at Salem College. While these haven't been completely useless degrees - I've taught voice lessons and done some professional singing since then, as well as holding a church music job from shortly after I returned home to Winston-Salem until just last year when I finally retired from it - let's just say that I have had to add to the skills I
The Meaning of "Invest Where You Believe"
Invest Where You Believe is the Foundation’s new tagline, but it is also more than that. It speaks to what we as followers of Christ are challenged by the Gospels to do: give of ourselves as we live and spread the Good News. This is not a passive process; it requires each of us to give it our all. It is an investment, not for personal and financial benefit, but of something deeper. It is the manifestation of our calling.
I Have To. I Want To.
One of my favorite things about being an adult is being able to do what I want to do. Long gone are the days of forced piano lessons, drinking a glass of milk with dinner (yuck!), and having to help my dad pick up pine cones in the backyard (which, given how my brother and I reacted, you would've thought was corporal punishment). Now I'm in my late 30's and I get to do what I want all the time. Right?!?
A New Challenge for New Beginnings
Over the past month, I have been spending a lot of time at New Beginnings Moravian Church in Huntersville, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte. Our Morning Star Campaign Services is providing assistance as the church plans renovations to their facilities.
This congregation is unusual in our Moravian world because it was chartered less than 15 years ago. Its growth has been slow and steady, with each step well-planned and well-executed. Here’s a brief outline of New Beginnings’ history:
So You Need a Website - Part IV - What's New in the World of Website Goodies
In 1996, I created my first website. I had just opened my private voice studio, and I needed a marketing tool to let people know I was in business. I had no idea what I was doing, and I had very few tools with which to do it. I don't think I even had any pictures on the site, just text with a very simple logo I was able to create in an early version of Photoshop. I could do background colors, but if I wanted to use anything other than the simplest fonts, in headings, for example, I had to create the heading as a jpg file in Photoshop and treat the entire thing as a graphic. I can remember creating graphics for the menus as well...very primitive.
In 1999 I met Mr. Franklin Fulton of New York City. Prior to the existence of the Moravian Ministries Foundation, Franklin had made plans to leave everything he owned to the Moravian Church Northern Province as an unrestricted permanent fund, so I was eager to meet him. But there was more to Franklin than a future bequest. He deeply loved the Moravian Church, its traditions, and its music. In fact, Franklin served as organist at First Moravian Church on Lexington Ave in Manhattan for over twenty-five years.
Let Us Adore Him, Let Your Light Shine: Growing Gratitude and Generosity at Calvary Moravian Church
On July 1, 2013, I received an email invitation from Lane Sapp, pastor of Calvary Moravian Church, to meet with him, the Vice Chair of Elders, and the Chair of Trustees.
Lane and I have been friends since serving together on a Synod planning committee in the 90’s. Since that time we’ve collaborated on a number of projects as well as worked together on boards and committees. I was delighted to be asked to meet and discuss how Calvary could more effectively talk about giving and budgets, as well as talk frankly about money and the church.
Last November my husband and I visited New York City and stayed at a place for people involved in Christian ministry. As we checked in I noticed a table full of brochures; some advertised nearby restaurants and attractions, but most were clearly homemade pieces printed on different colors of pastel paper. I didn't think much about them but noticed one had fallen to the floor so I bent down to pick it up and put it back on the table. Its title caught my eye: "Contentment".
So You Need a Website - Part III - Updating and Maintaining
Updating and maintaining websites has historically been a problem, particularly in small offices. When there are only two or three or four people in your office, odds are that one of them is not going to be a webmaster. And so what we've always done has been to farm updating our website out to a contractor or a volunteer, which means we've had to wait until they got to us in their work flow or until they had the time available from their real job to make our updates. Or if we happened to have someone in our office capable of making updates, it's always been one
Remarks to the 2014 Synods of the Moravian Church
Paul addressed the Southern Province Synod last week and hopes all pastors, lay leaders, and members will consider the questions he poses at the end of his remarks.
Good day, friends and colleagues. I am delighted to bring you greetings from the Trustees and staff of your Moravian Ministries Foundation.
There is Fun in Fundraising
So I'm a "fundraiser". I'm happy to be one; I think it's a great profession. However, not everyone agrees with me. When I first came to the Moravian Ministries Foundation, a church member (and someone I didn't know at all), read an article about me that appeared in The Moravian magazine. He telephoned me and his first words (not even a "hello"!) were, "So they gone and done it. They've (the church) hired a gunslinger to round up all the money." Those were his actual words.
Growing Generosity and Gratitude
A few weeks ago Chi-Chi and I had the pleasure of leading a session on Growing Generosity and Gratitude at the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries' Leadership Focus held at Friedberg Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC.
We All Have a Story to Share
At a recent staff meeting we talked about the Foundation's Facebook page and website; we are very pleased with how well each is working. As we discussed new ideas to write about, our chat turned to the question, “Would it be fun and helpful for each of the staff to talk about what our ‘jobs’ really mean to us?”
So You Need a Website - Part II - What On Earth Is a Content Management System?
Part I of this series discussed the website software Drupal and Wordpress; both applications create what are known as content management systems, or CMS's. When we first started creating websites, we thought of them as online brochures with static pages that didn't change much. We might update an "Our People" page, if someone left and we hired a new person. Or, if we posted quarterly earnings reports, we'd update it every quarter. But most of the content on the site stayed the same.
Is Now a Good Time?
A church in Wisconsin gets a new roof. In Pennsylvania, a new entrance and elevator provide accessibility to the sanctuary for all members. A new summer camp kitchen for a Moravian camp, conference and retreat center in North Carolina provides hungry campers with delicious meals and allows the camp to meet new state health and safety requirements. These are a few examples of how Morning Star Campaign Service has helped with capital fundraising for immediate needs.
So You Need a Website, Part I - The Software
I think a lot of organizations with limited resources, such as smaller churches, would like to have websites, but are hesitant to start one because they think it will be expensive and difficult. And it certainly can be. But it doesn't have to be.
2013 Common Fund Performance Review
The 2013 performance numbers are in and it was another great year for the Common Fund, our pooled investment and endowment management vehicle. When comparing its performance to the benchmarks made up of similar asset classes (the so-called "Blended Index"), the Common Fund delivered superior results in both the long and short terms. For example:
Moravian Music Foundation Receives Incredible Gift
In 1947 the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra hired Thor Johnson, son of a Moravian minister, as its first American-born conductor. Thor, a native of Wisconsin Rapids, attended Friedberg Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC, as a youth. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, went to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor for his graduate degree, served in the U.S. Army, and then joined the faculty of the Julliard School of Music. While at Julliard, at the age of just 33, Thor was appointed musical director of the Cincinnati Orchestra.
Laurel Ridge Moravian Camp, Conference and Retreat Center's Friends Forever Annual Appeal
It has been my pleasure to work with Laurel Ridge to develop a Friends of Laurel Ridge program for the camp. I remember initial meetings in 2002, as I was a member of the task force created to determine how a Friends organization might benefit Laurel Ridge and its important ministries. In that first year more than $22,000 was raised.
2013: Year in Review
From Moravian Ministries Foundation President Paul McLaughlin's annual report:
In 2013 we took huge successful steps to more clearly address the topic of money and the church by talking about generosity and gratitude. We launched a Facebook page, ran ads and published stories in The Moravian, redesigned our website, and refreshed our logo and print materials.
As far as results for our specific services, I will breakdown them down by major area of work and ministry.
Welcome to Our New Website
The Moravian Ministries Foundation was founded in 1998, so 2013 was our 15th anniversary. To celebrate, we decided to refresh our public appearance. We redesigned our logo, our brochures, our letterhead - everything that presented us to the world. And all of those pieces rolled into the final piece, which was our website.
Is Receiving as Important as Giving?: Reflections from the Lake Institute
The Lake Institute on Faith and Giving explores the many connections between faith and philanthropy within religious traditions. Chi-Chi and I are taking part in their new Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising program and we spent three days this week at the Christian Theological Seminary campus in Indianapolis to complete the classroom portion.
$177,354.19 That's a lot of money. That's how much was distributed in 2013 to Moravian churches and agencies through planned gifts, such as annuities and trusts, and donor-advised funds we manage. What does that dollar amount really mean? How was that money turned into ministry?
Communication and Thanksgiving
In September 2013 a small group of Moravian clergy from the Northern and Southern Provinces gathered in Winston-Salem to discuss the important connection between money and ministry. We later asked those pastors to reflect on the conversation, and Rev. Russell Williams shared these thoughts:
Mission and Ministry - What's Yours?
Since 1997 the Moravian Ministries Foundation has been helping individuals who want to support their churches and favorite ministries through gifts from their wills and via other forms of “planned giving”. In recent years we have seen growing interest in creating what we call a Mission and Ministry Fund.
Investing Where They Believe - Thank You to Our Pastors' Forum Participants
Money and the church. This is how we opened our meeting on Wednesday, September 11 with 9 Moravian pastors who came together in the Saal of the Single Sisters House (part of Salem College's campus) to have an honest conversation about generosity and the church, how good churches can be great, the services of the Moravian Ministries Foundation, and how we can do more to help Moravians Invest Where They Believe.
Faith Is a Verb - Raleigh Moravian Church
On Sunday, September 29, 2013, I was privileged to have been asked to speak at Raleigh Moravian Church. The text of that talk follows:
Good morning and thank you for inviting me back to your delightful church.
On behalf of the Trustees – including your own Keith Kapp who serves on the Moravian Ministries Foundation Board – and along with the staff of the Foundation – I bring you warm greetings.
Today, I want to briefly talk about two words we at the Foundation have spent considerable time discussing – Gratitude and Generosity.