Bottom Line: I, like many of you, have been told people don’t read fundraising letters, especially if they’re more than a page long. But I’d love for you to read to the end and hear why I believe you should pledge to support the work of our congregation monetarily. If you already know you want to give, you can skip to the end and find out how to do so.
I worked at the University of Chicago before coming to Union Church two and a half years ago. I loved being on campus, but I began to sense that, in a time of growing inequality and brokenness, the work of healing the world needed to be unconstrained by a university bureaucracy. I listened for God and I heard a call to return to the local church.
In the years since, I’ve seen the work and spirit of God building Union. As Confirmation students serve meals and spend time with their elders at the Golden Appreciation lunch, and as they pile on couches together, growing into Christian community. As grandparents act out the Christmas story for their enchanted grandchildren, and as folks of all ages sing carols for the grieving and homebound. As church members place signs of welcome and inclusion in their front yards and work with DuPage United for more just communities in our county. As we worship and pray together: in innovative and moving ways, through storytelling and music, from the 15th century and Broadway to the original songs of our own Ryan P. Keane. We have fun at Union Church. We laugh and love and sing and play.
Union has also continued a deep commitment to mission ministries through the years. Did you know we give about $93,000 annually to support the work of groups who serve the poor and vulnerable in Hinsdale, Chicago, and beyond? We gather weekly to make soup for the San Lucas church in Humboldt Park and ministry teams trek to feed and serve the North Side’s homeless each month with A Just Harvest. When some 255,000 children in Cook County go hungry each day, this is important work.
And yet, feeding a couple hundred folks each week or month does nothing to combat the complex problems that leave 800,000 people in our area wrestling with food insecurity. Eight hundred thousand people.
Lots of churches do things like this. What sets Union Church apart (other than the amazing staff and music and gorgeous physical plant and nationally recognized preschool) is that we insist that our Christian witness needs to be more than a drop in the bucket of basic needs. We know our communities and our nation are desperately in need of a watershed moment, and we’re trying to learn together how we can make a difference: to provide not just a band aid, but real healing. For ourselves and others.
In an age of anxiety and uncertainty, we have hosted critical conversations with award winning journalists on truth telling and media, and with academics about privilege and race. We have, as a congregation embarking on our Before We Get to Mars project, started to read and study and plan for a mission and justice focus. A focus that is not just for the coming month, but for the years that will see our kids from preschool to young adulthood. How will it shape them to be a part of a community seeking to be more healing and loving, more committed to justice, more willing to ask questions and serve others?
We inhabit a broken hurting world, and, honestly, a broken, hurting nation. But the God we worship is present in this world, grounding us in trust that our brokenness can be, is already, overcome.
How? In our life together.
It’s easy to feel defeated by the countless shootings, the realities of women harassed and assaulted, the children betrayed and hungry. The anxieties of parenting kids in this world. We could turn away. Stop reading the news. Stick our heads in the sand. I get so defeated sometimes, by how entrenched injustice is, by how big the problems are.
And yet. I come to the 9:07 service and Galen, nearly 5, comes up to me each week, tugs on my rainbow stole, and says, Pastor Bromleigh, can I do the offering today? I watch parents who work so many hours sit by their kids in the chapel pews and sing silly songs of praise with their smiling kids. I sit on the colorful rug, reading stories of God from the Bible and the best children’s publishers, and a toddler whose family started worshipping with us this summer waddles over and just plops in my lap.
On the first Sunday of each month, I invite kids and their parents to crowd around the communion table, and we remember how Jesus told us of God’s love for all people, and told us to eat and drink so that the power of his love could be inside us, making us strong; when I see the tiniest kids serving that strength and love to their parents and friends, lifting up the chalice and bread while the recipients bend down, I see the power in the powerless, hope born again, the work of God beginning.
If you’re already pledging or giving, thank you for your support of our work. You contribute to staff salaries, program expenses, the cost of being the church. If you’ve not yet been giving regularly, and you also see the work of God in this place, if you also want to be a part of making the world more like Jesus wants it to be, will you make a pledge to support this congregation? Our budget is roughly $1.2 million for 2018. We’re growing and we’re serving, and we’re poised to do so much, but we also, practically, need increased giving to keep moving in the right direction.
Below is a pledge card that I hope that you will download and return to church as soon as you are able. You can also pledge and setup secure, automatic giving online with this link, which we encourage. And you can give a one-time gift securely online with this link. For a little extra motivation see the video messages from your fellow members on the church website (available soon). But however you want to give, please do. We cannot do this work, cannot build a community of faith and support for you, your children, or others, without your support.
For a little extra motivation see the video messages from your fellow members on the church website (available soon). You can also set up secure, automatic giving online, which we encourage. But however you want to give, please do. We cannot do this work, cannot build a community of faith and support for you, your children, or others, without your support.
Your sister in Christ,
Rev. Bromleigh McCleneghan
Associate Pastor for Ministry with Families
The Union Church of Hinsdale, U.C.C.
PS: Help shape the world you want for others. Show them what’s important to you. Give generously to the Union Church General Fund in 2018.