Tradition of GivingOur founder John Wesley, felt strongly that the entire world was part of his "parish" and that he and his group of followers should do all they could to improve the lives of those they were called to care for through Jesus' words in Matthew 25:
There are many resources - print and multi-media - available that can help people better understand the United Methodist system of connectional giving. Links to some of the best resources for church members, clergy, church staff and local church leaders are shown below.
"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."
--Matthew 25:35-36, NRSV
In an article for the Interpreter, Bishop Ken Carder summarizes Wesley's theology of giving this way:
- Church Members - Getting started, information downloads, stories of sharing, FAQ
- Clergy - Getting started, sermon starters, talking points, video downloads, stories of sharing, FAQ
- Church Staff - Getting started, support materials, stories of sharing, FAQ
- Church Leaders - Getting started, support materials, stories of sharing, FAQ
Giving for Wesley was a way to express generosity, rooted in gratitude for God’s gifts and to fulfill the Great Commandment to love God and our neighbor. As Wesley said:
- Giving is rooted in God’s very being. Life is grace, a free, unearned gift from God, who invites us to share.
- Giving is indispensable to Christian discipleship. It is part of holy living. Wesley class meetings were organized as a way to collect money for the poor. As the money was distributed, it became apparent more than financial aid was needed. In response, class meetings became communities of grace in which people were loved and held accountable for holy living. Growth in discipleship inevitably includes growth in giving.
- Giving includes more than the products (the money) of our labor. We also give by refusing to take from others what is necessary for their abundant life. Simplifying our lifestyles and preserving the earth’s resources are forms of giving in the Wesleyan tradition.
- Giving involves friendship with the poor. To Wesley, regular visitation with the poor was essential for Christian discipleship. Renewal will come to The United Methodist Church when we welcome the poor into the church’s life.
- Giving involves building communities of justice. Giving in the Wesleyan tradition goes beyond individual charity to building communities of interconnectedness, justice and compassion. Wesley made no distinction between delivering medical care and proclaiming the gospel.
- Giving includes advocating on the behalf of the voiceless. Wesley spoke out against child labor, the inhumane treatment of prisoners, the slave trade and excessive interest charged to the poor.
“Money is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked … a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame …”
May we, the people called United Methodists, learn there is no Gospel without giving.