For good, or for ill, money has power, and it speaks for us. For this reason, we offer our financial giving intentionally. Just as in a growing season, from planting to harvest, we plan our giving upfront, so that it speaks to what we value, believe, and support. So where we give, you can hear our voices.
In 1981 we graduated from Goshen College. Since that time we have been annual contributors to express our gratitude and show that we value that place. As students we always heard about the “constituents” and the power they had. They wanted to do away with our radical Bible professors. Life drawing classes had to be taken in South Bend. We still couldn’t dance, not even the allowed folk dancing. Those constituents had control in part, because the college was dependent on their money.
In 2010, there was mounting pressure to accept openly LGBTQ faculty at Goshen College. As the hiring issue began to heat up, some constituents threatened to withhold their contributions if the policy became inclusive. As this issue was close to our hearts, a group of us, (counter constituents?) decided to let our voices be heard. Some of these people were from CMC. We chose to withhold our giving until the policy changed to inclusion. We informed the college board, President, and alumni association what we were doing. Several years later GC’s policy changed and we resumed our giving. We also made up our missing contributions. Our withholding of funds was not done lightly, and we know that no institution is perfect. We do not expect to love everything about a place and we do not intend to micro manage. But in this case, withholding money added volume to our other expressions.
CMC is an important community for us. We give out of gratitude for what it represents, and for the people, and missions that speak for us. Our offering does what we cannot do, and goes where we cannot go. Our offering supports the gifts of the staff, the passion and organization of the mission networks, and the regular operations of the building and community. So we plan intentionally, what our offering will be to CMC. First Fruits is a great visual way to think about what it means to offer our gifts. Imagine giving away the first tomato from your garden, one that you’ve tended and waited for. It’s an intentional offering of your work, of your voice, given with joy.