Don’t forget the ministries at home

October 12, 2011 | Viewpoints | Number 20
Janette Thiessen |

Throughout our world, disasters occur and urgent financial aid is needed to help affected areas on a constant basis. The pleas are unending from aid agencies, especially here in North America.

It is comforting to know that North Americans care about others and are willing to open their pocketbooks to help out. This is a good thing. It is also a wise decision to donate, especially when the funds are matched on a one-to-one or even a four-to-one basis. Good economics.

What has crossed my mind, though, over the past number of years, is how other charities are supposed to compete with these heart-wrenching pleas for aid. Other charities can’t use a picture of devastation or starving children to accompany their pleas for funds.

As we know, earlier this year Mennonite Church Canada had to cut $500,000 from its budget to stay true to its mandate of working with the amount donated in the previous fiscal year. This eliminated some positions entirely and reduced hours for others; as a result, people’s lives were changed. All this because funds are not being donated to our own Mennonite organization.

Most people will agree that MC Canada does good work. It is our global mission agency through which our Mennonite workers go out into the world. It provides resources for our pastors, churches and congregational members, as well as salary guidelines for congregations and area churches. It coordinates the pension plan to which most of our pastors and church staff belong.

As office administrator for MC B.C., I watch these worldwide pleas for financial aid and wonder how that will now affect the donations locally. I don’t for even a second suggest that people shouldn’t contribute to these pleas for aid. I would, however, encourage individuals to consider also giving to those charities that can’t attach an emotional plea to their request for funds. MC B.C.’s ministry isn’t glamorous or emotionally charged, but we do important work for our churches and denomination.

As office administrator, I attempt to be as frugal as I can be with respect to office resources and I encourage all our committees to be financially responsible with their budgets. We in MC B.C. do not spend money frivolously. We would, as I’m sure MC Canada would, love to do ministry without worrying if the funds will come in. This is the nature of charity work.

As you respond to the latest urgent appeal for worldwide relief efforts, please also remember those ministries at home that need your funds as well.

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