Last Thursday, the sky was only beginning to lighten outside the window of my second-story studio where I sit each morning, write, drink my green tea. A single bird chirped three times. I could not identify the bird by its call, but I knew what he was saying. It’s the same song that each of us sings over and over—I am here; I am with you; I am part of this community.
I think that planned giving is a way to say the same about our church.
I pledge every year to Heritage Church because this church is important to me. I do my part to keep its doors open—selfishly for me, unselfishly for others. This church accepts all of me—my gifts, my limitations, my beliefs, my presence, my periodic absences, what I can offer, what I cannot. The church accepts me much as my family does. When I go to either, I find the doors open.
When drawing up my will a number of years ago, I did what many of you have done, or will do when you take the steps to put your financial affairs in order for the end of your life. I designated my family members as the recipients of most of my holdings upon my death. And I did something else: I named Heritage as a recipient as well, because just as my family is my home, so is this church.
Planned gifts, which are what arrangements such as bequests are called, do not need to be large amounts, and they certainly are not the obligation of only people of great wealth. A planned gift of $500 or even less adds to the well-being of our church community as much as any larger gift—because the gifts add up. So the amount does not matter. The gift does. It says, as the little bird chirping outside my window said the other day: I was here. I was with you. I was part of this community.
Just as my family members add immeasurably to my life, so does this church. I’ve made arrangements to provide for my family upon my death, so how could I not do the same for my church? Both are the essence of what I call home—not my house, my home. Both provide a place for me to belong.
I recognize that in my living, and I will recognize that in my dying.
May it be so, and may each of you do the same.