Posts Tagged ‘Charitable organization’

Op-ed piece on our brothers and sisters in homelessness (2000, Herald)

Lose the Soul, Lose the Community: The Role of Community in Healing & Ending Homelessness (Eisner Institute & The Mustard Seed, 2010)

Short-Term Mission Reasearch Committee (Canadian Theological Seminary, 2006)

ASQC Training Manual (1996)

The Problems with Killing (Theatreblitz 1996, Alberta Theatre Projects)

The Great War (Cecil Swanson School Library 1988)

BMX & Me (Cecil Swanson Newsletter 1986)

As well as thousands of stories, novels, plays, and a short-movie from 25+years of storytelling 🙂


Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611

Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan’s Purse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Worldvision Enterprises

Worldvision Enterprises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew 6

Do Good to Please God

6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.[a]

What are the boundaries on giving? What is the way we are to do this? This passage in Matthew during the Sermon on the Mount is jarring to our 21st century ear. Where we are used to be rewarded for our good works, or “charity” (and yes I cringe at the word C-H-A-R-I-T-Y for it implies that I know better than those I am trying to build community with, it is a power word and yes we need to acknowledge this).

So this came passage came up in the adult Sunday School class today in our discussion around Hospitality (a lifestyle for Christians is the underlying ethos of this educational series).  But the words of this passage struck me.

For it is so counter to what we are used to.

I remember as a youth pastor terminating my youth groups relationship with WorldVision, not because we did not believe in what they did (we actually still did a 30 hour famine for a non-profit), no the relationship was ended because, simply, the one that reached certain levels of donations were given rewards.

There was two things wrong with this:

1) It rewarded those of higher socio-economics

2) It built a discipleship mechanism that we are too expect to be rewarded or given something tangible for our willingness to give.

These were 2 messages I found counter to the Gospel of building a just world.

But there are so many other ways in the church we perpetuate this you must receive to give, and do to get, here are a few short examples to reflect on:

1) Tax receipts: do we give to our church because we believe int he mission? Feel called? or know that we will receive a kick back at year end tax season? What if the churches lost their tax exempt status?? Would we still financially support our church?

2) Building projects and fundraisers where we do door prizes and other prize draws to “reward” those who give… what is the underlying message here?

3) How do we share our stories when we do good work? Do we celebrate the individuals or the community? Is there a difference?

4) How do we do missions? At one point (I do not know if they still do this) Samaritan’s Purse required the families and children receiving shoe boxes to have to attend church to receive the present. Is this right? Should we expect someone to do something to receive blessing?


Just points to ponder…with one final quesiton:

Are we called to charity or to justice?

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Rev. Debra W. HaffnerThe Religious Institute is in the fight of our lives, and we need your help.
Please donate now!
On February 21, 2012, the Religious Institute received shocking news from its fiscal agent, Christian Community Inc., that it had ceased business operations, and that it was shutting down immediately. In its capacity as our fiscal agent since 2001, Christian Community Inc. was responsible for processing all donations to the Religious Institute as well as managing its financial obligations. We were notified that all of the Religious Institute funds already obtained for fiscal year 2012, and all of the Religious Institute reserves and fund balance, were gone. With the exception of $3800 in a bank account in Connecticut, the Religious Institute’s foundation monies and reserves for the end of 2011 and all of 2012 had been used by the fiscal agent.

We immediately severed all ties between the organizations.

We are pleased to announce, effective immediately, The Unitarian Church in Westport (TUCW) is the new fiscal agent for the Religious Institute. In this role, it will receive tax deductible donations to the Religious Institute. (I have served this congregation as a Community Minister since 2003, and I have been a member there since 1988.) Additionally, the Religious Institute has started the process of being recognized by the IRS as an independent nonprofit organization, and is managing its own finances, under TUCW’s supervision. Once the Religious Institute receives IRS recognition as an independent nonprofit organization, it will no longer need the services of TUCW.
The ministry of the Religious Institute will continue. We are open, working 15 hour days, and are committed to our ministry. The work of the Religious Institute is too important, too vital for us to do anything but continue. We have done great work, changing the landscape of how denominations, faith communities, seminaries, and clergy approach sexuality issues. If you are not familiar with our work, please go to our web site at
If you have ever considered supporting the Religious Institute, now is the time. In the past three days, we have begun to receive donations ranging from $1.45 from a seven-year-old to commitments from foundations. In total, we must raise $425,000 in the next three months to implement the plan for 2012 activities. I am confident we can do so.  Every donation, no matter the size, will have a profound effect on the Religious Institute.

If you support sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and want to preserve the progressive religious voice in the public square on our shared issues, please make the most generous donation you can. A generous private donor has agreed to match every dollar until $10,000 that comes in from this appeal. Please ask your friends and colleagues to donate as well. Help us spread the word on Facebook and Twitter!

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Donations to the Religious Institute/TUCW are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donations can be sent to the Religious Institute at 21 Charles Street, Suite 140, Westport, CT 06880, or can be made online at
Please pray for us. Your support will not only allow us to survive but once again thrive.
In faith,

Rev. Debra W. Haffner

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