Friday, December 04, 2009

Would Jesus Withhold Mission Support?

That's always a good question, right? What would Jesus do?

Some of those who stand in great certitude about what Jesus would do are withholding their money from their ELCA congregations. Whole congregations are withholding mission support from the ELCA churchwide organization.

Forty-five people lost their jobs at churchwide, in part as a result of this withheld support. Budget cuts are more complex, of course--it's a bad economy and we continue to decline overall.

But a whole bunch of those people lost their jobs because of financial blackmail. Maybe that's harsh, but I don't think so, and if it is, then it is deservedly harsh. Our congregation disagreed with decisions made by churchwide for years, and never once voted to withhold funds. We would have considered it unjust. I would have considered it immoral. A good portion of the money that goes to churchwide funds disaster response, water programs in the 2/3 world, the ELCA World Hunger Appeal.

If we're going to call ourselves members of the ELCA, then we should commit to the organization, and that means supporting it with our dollars. It's no different than being the member of a congregation. If you commit to the organization, you are expected to support it. That's part of the commitment.

So, congregations withholding your money: please stop. Or withdraw altogether, as would be more honest and fair.

Money is a tool and we should definitely allow our values to direct our spending. But just as I don't shop at Walmart, I don't park in their parking lot, either.