Readers write

June 5, 2013 | Viewpoints

Money or God: Which do we love more?

Re: “Pastor concerned about financial health of wider church,” March 18, page 16.

I Corinthians 6:9-10 deals with a variety of sins. We spent years discussing the shortfalls of sexuality. Why have we conveniently missed the topic of greed? According to this passage, the greedy will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The honest fact is, we love our money much more than we love God.

Pastors who dare talk about money are encouraged to rather focus on God’s love. If they do not comply, ways and means are put into place to encourage them to move on.

Statistics show that 20 percent of any given congregation gives 80 percent of the budget. This is true of secular charities as well, according to an article published in Maclean’s magazine.

In view of this, probably 80 percent of us rob God! The standard for giving is found in Malachi 3:8, but the best is in Luke 9:23: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Olga Epp, Coaldale, Alta.

Capital campaigns not the real problem for MC Canada

Re: “A time of mystery and disorientation,” April 29, page 15.

I am studying donors among Mennonite Foundation of Canada’s constituency as part of my academic studies. I’ve travelled from B.C. to Ontario conducting focus groups and administering surveys on how and why donors give.

In response to Will Braun’s article, which suggests that building campaigns “siphon giving” from national and area churches, I think the image of a pipeline of giving flowing directly and automatically to Mennonite Church Canada, with some of the money being drained away for other causes, is inaccurate and unfair.

The T3010 data that every registered charity must file with Revenue Canada shows that receipted giving to MC Canada congregations increased 12 percent from 2004-11 (not adjusted for inflation). Local congregations remain well-watered, but less giving is flowing to the area and national churches. Why is this happening?

People give to charities that they trust and are familiar with, and to causes that they believe in. The national and area churches don’t fit that bill for many people. People trust their local church and they are familiar with its work.

According to my survey results, there is a measurable decrease in levels of trust and familiarity between the local church and the area and national churches. A few people did not know which area church they belonged to. I heard that giving to the area and national churches is like giving to a black hole: you don’t know where it’s going.

Mennonites continue to be very generous people, but the “pipeline” model of giving flowing automatically to the area and national churches certainly does not exist. Think, instead, of thousands of people and hundreds of congregations with watering cans, giving water where the flowers are ready to bloom.

MC Canada talks about how difficult the drought is for gardeners (national church staff), ponders the changing climate and reorganizes the flowerbeds. It fails to engage the people with the watering cans, many of whom don’t know about MC Canada’s garden or what is growing in it.

Fundraising is the joyful and holy task of telling people about the garden and inviting them to water it. Mennonites should be doing more fundraising, in my view, and the area and national churches especially need to articulate their visions.

Focusing on capital campaigns may provide a distraction, but will not address the underlying issues.

Lori Guenther Reesor, Mississauga, Ont."

Eat with the rich, and challenge them too

Re: “A tale of two speakers,” May 13, page 11.

In this column, Aiden Enns contrasts Willard Metzger with Mark Van Steenwyk. He writes how he cooked a meal with Mark, and then states, “I would have been embarrassed to share a simple meal like this with Willard; he was fancy, we were down to earth. He carried middle-class ostentation; Mark exuded lower class solidarity.”

I’ve never met Mark, but I know Willard, and he is a humble, down to earth, and, yes, passionate leader. I would love the opportunity to cook and eat a simple meal with Willard!

I heartily agree with Enns’s emphasis on solidarity with the poor, which leads to a life of simplicity, hospitality, prayer, peace and resistance, and acknowl-edge my need to grow more in this area. But even if a person were “fancy” and “ostentatious,” which Willard is not, didn’t Jesus spend much time sharing hospitality around the tables of the rich and powerful? He was never embarrassed to eat with them, or to challenge them.

Jesus loved and reached out to rich and poor alike. That is the kind of leader I want to follow.

Werner De Jong, Edmonton

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