Stewardship 2024: You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

Stewardship 2024: You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

MATTHEW 7:16
You will know them by their fruits…

November is Stewardship Month at University Church. By Pledge Sunday, which is November 19, we are invited to turn in a pledge card (or PLEDGE ONLINE here) affirming how we plan to support University Church time, treasure, and talents in 2024.

This year, the Finance Committee has asked us to meditate on the theme of “You will know them by their fruits” as we prayerfully consider our offerings for the coming year. These verses come from Matthew chapter 7 where Jesus is discussing how to distinguish true prophets from false prophets.

Our Pledges to University Church allow us to participate in bringing to harvest all the good fruit that the church produces. These fruits are seen in our church community as we worship and pray together and express love and fellowship. But these good fruits are also seen in our wider community.

As a part of our application to Illinois Solar for All to put solar panels on the church, we had to obtain letters of support from community partners. These letters brought home the extent of University Church’s impact beyond our congregation.

Letters came pouring in from groups including Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, South Side Together Organizing for Power, Maroon Tutors, ServSafe, the Blue Gargoyle, Boy Scouts, Restorative Justice Hub, and many others.

We can also see these good fruits in the current work that University Church has taken on in hosting and feeding asylum seekers who continue to arrive in Chicago.

Your Pledge for 2024 will allow University Church to continue to produce all of these good fruits.

—Stephanie Weaver
University Church Co-Treasurer

Stewardship 2022: On Christ the Solid Rock We Stand

November is Stewardship Month at University Church, and November 21 will be Pledge Sunday when everyone is invited to turn in a pledge card (or pledge online here) affirming how they plan to support University Church with their time, treasure, and talents in 2022.

The Finance Committee has asked us to meditate on the theme of “On Christ the solid rock we stand” as we prayerfully consider our offerings for the coming year. This theme was selected because of the changes and storms that we have come through in 2020 and 2021.

University Church is like the house built on the rock in Christ’s parable. The church has sheltered our community through these storms. We were physically separated from each other by the pandemic, but University Church, by moving into an online space, has allowed us to still experience the rock solidness of God’s promises of love and care and has fed our needs for spiritual sustenance and connection. The church was able to continue to reach into our lives every Sunday and bring us together in a virtual space.

This coming together still goes on, even now that some of us have returned to the sanctuary. We have continued to advocate for social justice through the ongoing work of committees and members. Our building has offered sanctuary to several migrant families even when we were not there. We found creative and COVID-safe ways to be together over the summer with Summer Fun activities (thank you to Valerie Lilley and everyone who helped plan these events!). And we were glad with Pastor Julian that he was finally able to take a sabbatical this summer as a season of renewal for the work ahead.

Please help us continue to build the University Church community grounded on the solid rock of Christ’s teachings and promises with your pledge as we enter 2022. Let us stand together on the solid rock!

Stephanie Weaver
University Church Co-Treasurer

Stewardship 2021: This Little Light of Mine

One of the biggest differences between my daughters and me is how we understand light. I mean this quite literally. They think light appears magically during the day: I know it’s about the sun and earth’s rotation, yada yada yada. They think there should always be lights on (even when no one is in the room!): I know lights cost money. They think light is how you get rid of darkness, and, well…they are spot on! When they are afraid of the dark, they call on their parents to make the light happen.

When you first observed University Church, or felt its light, you knew it was something special. But like those little kids, you didn’t know where it came from: it simply was. But if that light reached you, or anyone else, it had an origin.

If it was in 2020, it meant there was a Sanctuary Task Force dedicated to meeting the needs of immigrants in the city, even if it meant opening our building in a different way. There was a Finance Committee + a Housing Minister working with them. There was an abrupt stop to our regular rhythm (Really? What happened this year?), and a Worship team that moved entirely online. There was a pastor speaking into a camera, wondering if anyone could feel…that…light. There were thousands in benevolence distributed, clothes and food given away, activities for kids, new songs, new ways of being emerging, just like you ― figuring out, in this mad darkness, how to make the light happen.

Your church makes light. And it’s not because ??? makes it happen: WE make it happen. By God’s grace. Together. This time every year, we use our time, talent, and treasure to create a little light where the darkness reigns, to keep the lights on, and to contribute to the warmth and glow of God’s Beloved Community in this city, nation, and world. We are University Church, a little light that happens to be a mighty light, and it’s Stewardship Season.

I’m calling on you to help sustain our work for love and freedom. We are asking you to make a pledge this year that will help us continue to reach people in their homes each week. We are asking you not to help us be the church, but to BE THE CHURCH with us. Be God’s Love and generosity, and let’s be more than little lights; let’s use our collective light to cast out the great darkness.

Enclosed is a pledge card, which we will use to determine next year’s budget and possibilities. Be prayerful over your finances as you prepare to turn in your pledge card. For some, a 10% “tithe” of your income will be what you write, and less for others. What we ask is for 100% participation: full participation of our congregation, of any amount that is significant for you. If you’ve been blessed, be a blessing!

Stewardship Sunday this year is November 15 (when we’ll also celebrate my being your pastor for 10 Years! Time flies!), and we’ll receive pledge cards through the end of November. You can also call or email the office with your pledge, or make your pledge ONLINE.

THANK YOU for being part of this place, because we know that it isn’t enough to wait on the light: we must make light happen. Take care over there. Love.

―Pastor Julian

Pledging Our Time, Talent, and Treasure in 2020

Pledging Our Time, Talent, and Treasure in 2020

For many, University Church represents a beacon, a warm light that welcomes and embraces all who enter with love, full acceptance, and support in times of need.

Won’t you take a moment to consider how the path has been made a little easier or brighter?
How can your contribution help to keep that beacon shining for our 126th year and beyond?

In 2019, your pledges and offerings have made the amazing work of the church possible — from our dynamic and inspiring worship services, to our beloved annual retreat, to the salaries and benefits for our amazing staff. We couldn’t do it without you!

Our youth had a fantastic year, and we are grateful that we have an amazing youth minister on staff to coordinate activities and programs to strengthen their faith and connection to each other and to this church! In addition to offering Junior Church and Sacred Circle every Sunday, this year our youth have been able to:

  • Go on a service day volunteer opportunity at Chicago Food Depository
  • Celebrate Harvest Festival in October
  • Choreograph and participate in liturgical dances

God’s justice and mercy has always had a beacon in Hyde Park thanks to UChurch. Because of your support, this year we have been able to:

  • Host the Social Justice Fair in September
  • Give contributions to our allies/friends
  • Provide small cash gifts to people with immediate material needs (benevolence)

In 2020, UChurch plans to keep growing in both our mission and our faith. Your pledge will help us not only sustain our current programs and events, but increase our impact by:

  • Raising all staff salaries
  • Supporting the continued education of our staff and lay leadership
  • Purchasing curricula and other materials for spiritual/theological development
  • Offering a modest budget to ALL committees, increasing their ability to explore new opportunities for ministry in our congregation and neighborhood

If members like you pledge faithfully, we should be able to do all that we’re hoping… and more!

How can I pledge?

You may pledge online, on cards inserted in your bulletin each Sunday in November, or at the office. You are invited to reflect on what you can give to University Church in 2020 and affirm your commitment on November 17, Stewardship Sunday. All pledges count!

Also, please mark your calendar for our Annual Congregational Meeting Sunday, December 15, immediately following the service, when the budget will be approved.

(Did you know?)

  • UChurch is supported by, and supports, two social enterprises that bring in revenue: Our monthly re-sale shop contributes $9,000 a year to our general budget, and Covenantal Community of University Church covers nearly all of our property manager’s salary. Covenantal Community is a 20-unit affordable rental co-op at 61st and Woodlawn that was started by UChurch members in the 1960s.
  • Over the years, UChurch has built up a social justice endowment fund of nearly $39,000. Interest from it is available for controversial causes. And it has a general endowment fund of about $47,000.
Homecoming: Stewardship 2019

Homecoming: Stewardship 2019

Each year we spend the month of November committing with our time, talent, and money for the next year. We each make a pledge, and then use that to set our budget for 2019. It is how God and our dream of the Beloved Community is made real in this space, and it cannot be done without you. As a bonus, this October 2019 we’ll celebrate our 125th Anniversary as a congregation, which we will almost certainly use as an occasion to welcome back old friends, throw some parties, and play some games. It is — you guessed it — “Homecoming,” that great fall tradition of returning to one’s alma mater to celebrate, renew old friendships, and turn over sacred memories. Next year for us will feel a lot like that, in the best sense.

Yet while there is usually a football game, many of us went to schools without celebrated football teams, and “Homecoming” means something more than a game; it means being in community again. To be clear: we are doing more than asking you to pitch in on a birthday party. We’re asking you to help us continue being a HOME for the wider community; a hearth of hospitality to strangers; a place of Sanctuary (in every sense); a safe space to wonder and reflect; a community to grow in and help the community grow. All of the things University Church means to you.

We are asking you to help sustain our work for love and freedom; our push for increased access to health care (trauma centers!); the counseling program that began October 28th; affordable housing; partnerships in Chicago, Guatemala and Angola; our (exponentially-growing) youth ministry; our creative and dynamic worship. Your pledge, of whatever size, helps reinforce the hospitality that makes us great…no. That makes us home.

Be prayerful over your finances as you prepare to turn in your pledge card. For some, a 10% “tithe” of your income will be what you write, and less for others. What we ask is for 100% participation: full participation of our congregation, of any amount that is significant for you.

Stewardship Sunday this year is November 18 (Come! We’re planning a Bonfire) and we’ll receive pledge cards through the end of November. You can also call or email the office with your pledge, or make your pledge ONLINE.

THANK YOU for being part of this place, as we continue to call on the love of God in celebration and sacrifice, in affirmation and challenge, and in community. Welcome home.

—Pastor Julian and the Stewardship Committee

Stewardship 2018: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Stewardship 2018: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Imagine a loaf of fresh-baked bread: warm and soft yet filling and sustaining. Even the thought ignites your senses: it’s the best. What causes bread to possess this power over us is the living yeast which, when added to the flour and a few other simple ingredients, grows and rises into a loaf. During our upcoming Stewardship Sunday, we’ll watch this transformation take place during service and then enjoy the results during Coffee Hour.

Church done well is a sort of “living yeast” that acts on the wider community, bringing out the good and sharing God’s love in important places. And churches — especially small, powerful ones like University Church — need yeast of our own to rise to the occasion our times demand. This is why we pledge.

Each year we spend the month of November committing with our time, talent, and money for the next year. It is how we set our budget for 2018 and how the dream of the Beloved Community is made real. Our Pledges act like this yeast and can create a nourishing church home that feeds the minds, souls, and spirits of our Congregation. With our church home we can also help provide literal sustenance to our community through the work of the Sanctuary Café — which serves “daily bread” — and provides employment and a meeting place for our neighbors.

Our Pledges also allow us to help nourish our young people through our youth and children programs, and the Blue Gargoyle, which does youth programming and outreach to the community.

We can sustain our Social Justice Ministry as it works on issues such as affordable housing, Fair Trade, racial and immigrant justice, along with partnerships in Guatemala and Angola.

When we make our Pledge for 2018 we do so with faith that God will give us our daily bread — much as God provided manna to the Israelites when they were in the desert — and so we will be able to provide the yeast and the means for the church to share this bread with our brothers and sisters in the Congregation and with the world.

Be prayerful over your finances as you prepare to turn in your pledge card. For some, a 10% “tithe” of your income will be what you write, and less or more for others. What we ask is for 100% participation: full participation of our congregation, of any amount that is significant for you.

 Stewardship Sunday this year is November 19, and we’ll receive pledge cards through the end of November. You can also call or email the office with your pledge, or make your pledge online. THANK YOU for participating in the making and sharing of the Bread of Life.

—Pastor Julian and the Stewardship Committee

Stewardship 2017: Home

Thank you for making this HOME.

 “…Or as close as it can get,” is what Jose Juan told me about a week after we had welcomed him into Sanctuary. That was April 2016, and he was fighting to remain with his family in America. We were helping him. One reporter that came to interview him asked, “Why do they want to send you home?” and he corrected them: “My home is here.” For the better part of this year University Church has been helping Jose Juan get back home.

And students have made this place home – a new young adult group has started – and your church has become a faith community for many that are missing the warmth of home.

Whether HOME is a feeling or a place (both, right?), University Church has aimed to be more than a house of God, but home for the community. It worked in 1894, and it is working today. You have felt it personally and the city is feeling our extravagant welcome.

None of this happens on accident. In the ancient days, the people committed to giving a portion of their harvest to sustain the temple and care for the poor. It was called a “firstfruit” and a “tithe” and an “offering” – all the things we still call it. The idea of a “pledge” is simply to anticipate and get started working BEFORE the harvest. The people of faith wanted to work together to make the temple a home.

This church has been passed to us after 122 years of revered history in the city – as an advocate, a public witness, and a place of spiritual healing. We believe in transformation – inside and out – we believe in opening doors that seem locked. Especially right now.

God is still calling us to do our part. Last Stewardship season, we added our piece to the puzzle. From your piece came the support of an immigrant family; community forums; a new youth pastor; a Fall festival; more families; deepened spiritual practices; new energy and gifts being put to use. All because of you. In 2017 we’ll do even more, with God’s help and your contribution.

Be prayerful over your finances as you prepare to turn in your pledge card. For some, a 10% “tithe” of your income will be what you write, and less for others. As pastor, all I ask is that we have 100% participation. Full participation of our congregation, of any amount.

Stewardship Sunday is November 20th this year (my 6-year anniversary as pastor!). We’ll receive pledge cards through the end of November. You can also call or email the office with your pledge.

Thank you for making this HOME. With your help, we’ll get a little closer!

— Pastor Julian & the Stewardship Committee

Everybody In, Nobody Out: Stewardship 2013

What’s your favorite Jesus miracle? Feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish? Turning water into wine? Raising Lazarus? Each of Christ’s wonders speaks to us in different ways, but they share a common setting: miracles happen in groups. Miracles happen when people come together under a common purpose. You’ll notice in Matthew 14 that it’s not Jesus’ own food that he multiplies but that of the disciples: he takes what the people give and increases it. The disciples aren’t watching God; they are now participating in the miracle, simply by giving.

Last year, 65% of you who call this place “home” made a pledge, and we did some amazing things. We’ve hired a new music director; expanded our youth programming; renovated the nursery -and- the basement (to prepare for a new resale shop!); created a new fellowship group for folks in their 20s and 30s; a music studio and a voice in the struggle against poverty; thriving social justice activities; new signs up along with a revamped web presence; and trust me…MORE! All of this on 65%…praise God! What if 100% of our church community made a pledge to University Church for 2013? We are growing now, but what is possible when we ALL make a commitment? Miracles.

University Church is in the miracle-making business. But to do that – as in the miracles of Jesus’ time – we have to come together. That’s what this year’s Stewardship Campaign is all about. 100% participation.

During the entire month of November we have been discussing the root meanings of stewardship – what is a “treasure”, what does “tithing” even mean?, and so on (and sermons are available online!) – so that we will stop thinking about stewardship as “how much $$$ we will give away” and start thinking about what we want to cause in the world. To do that requires a 100% effort. Everybody in, nobody out.

So this year, make a pledge. It doesn’t matter the amount – 10%, 1%, or one penny a week – if God has blessed you, then bless others. Pray about your commitment this year, fill out a pledge card, and on November 18we’ll collect our five loaves and two fish and present them to Jesus. Then, on November 25, we’ll make commitments of time. Because stewardship isn’t only about $$$: it’s about coming together in faith. With God’s help we can participate in some miracles next year!

—Pastor Julian and the Stewardship Committee