Opening Words from Sun. January 6 by Lance Finney

As you may have noticed, with the start of a new year, we’re also at the start of a new pledge campaign. While I was thinking over how much I should pledge, I thought back over my charitable donations the past few years.

When I was single, I donated money to a few causes I liked, but I wasn’t part of any community, and my giving wasn’t particularly organized.

When I got married, I still wasn’t part of any community that expected big donations, but my wife was. We decided to continue her tithe of 10% of her income to her church, but I didn’t have anything comparable even though our salaries were similar. We ended up making enough outside donations to be giving about 10% total to a bunch of different groups, with her church the largest recipient, followed by our alma mater.

A few years later, we decided to start a family, and my wife changed careers to one with lower pay and fewer and irregular hours. However, she still wanted to support her church regularly, so we decided to change her tithe to be 5% of my regular income. We continued with a variety of other smaller donations to keep our total giving around 10%. However, I didn’t have a big beneficiary because I didn’t have a comparable community of my own.

And then I found the Ethical Society.

I’ve been a member here for almost three years. When I first joined, I knew I could afford to give more than the absolute minimum that was stated at the time, but I wasn’t sure enough about the community to invest the full recommended amount, so I split the difference.

After a couple years, though, I knew I wanted to contribute more.

I saw the way that the Sunday School, Coming of Age, and Youth Group were giving our children an ethical and religious education without the guilt- and dogma-based messages I got in my youth. I saw the effort to build a Humanist community bolstered by over a century of history. I saw a community that recognized that working together for good didn’t require a theological component.

So, last year I increased my pledge to the recommended level.

In the year since then, I’ve been elected to be the Secretary the Board of Trustees and have seen more of the actions and activities of the Society, from tending to the needs of our elderly and sick members to supporting the Nursery School that has educated both of my children. I’ve seen the Society rally to support the creation of a co-ed, inclusive outdoor learning alternative to the Boy Scouts (by the way, our next general meeting is next Sunday, and our next outing is on the 19th).

And I’ve seen that the foundation for all of these activities is an overworked professional staff that we can’t expand without more pledge support from the membership.

So, this year, I’m increasing my pledge again. This time, I’m increasing to the new Benefactor level (in case you haven’t looked at your pledge packet yet, this is the middle of three levels the Board has instituted with progressive donation suggestions). This level indicates that “the Ethical Society is central to my identity and I would like to help increase the quality of its programs and activities.” This is certainly true for me.

To increase my pledge, we’ve changed some of our other donations to make room, but I think the community and the services of the Society are worth it. And I hope that I will be able to increase my pledge again to the Visionary level in the upcoming years.

As you look at your pledge packet, please consider what the Ethical Society means to you and what support you can give.

Thank you.