You go to church and listen to the sermon every day. You sit in the pews and look around at all of the beauty within the beautiful building. Other church-goers sing and praise God. Taking communion, you thank God for all He has provided you with. Maybe you volunteer occasionally, maybe you attend meetings and luncheons, or maybe you are not the faithful member that comes every week. Whatever kind of member you are, you enjoy your church and the congregation. You love your church family; you trust the elders, deacons, and the church leaders.
After receiving the good word and an educational and moving sermon, the offering plate makes its way towards you. You give what you can, sometimes more than others. It feels good to give back to the church that guides you in your daily life. It also takes trust to hand over your hard earned money. You are assured that your money is being spent in the best interest of the church, the community, and of the congregation.
But, when do you ask, “where is the money really going?” Most churches ask for a certain amount of money every year in addition to what you can afford to drop into the offering plate every week. Trusting and obligingly, you give as requested. These churches also give a statement of where the money goes. But certain things can be vague, at best. Deacon’s fund, for instance, is a fund that you trust is being spent wisely. You assume that it is being given to families in need, to people that need help paying their bills and putting food on the table. To families that may lose their heat and electric.
But what would you say if someone that was a member of the church with children, one being an infant just home from the NICU, asked the church for help with heat and they were told to call the electric and gas company? Turned away, just like that.
That very same church bailed a person out of jail. This church used their money, that the members give unquestioningly, $250.00 of it, to bail a person out of jail.
How does this make sense? How can a church turn down a struggling mother, yet bail out a single man with no children? Does this sound like the church you go to, the church you support, the church you trust? Is this the church that takes your money and assures you that it will be put to good use?
But this did happen. It happened right here in Port Jervis NY. It happened in a church that says they are struggling financially and they need more money from their members. This church recently closed their sanctuary to save money on heating and electricity.
This church turned me down three years ago when I needed help. I had been a member there for fifteen years and was well known. I loved the congregation and they loved me. I had a new baby, had just moved, and needed help. See, my baby was very sick when she was born and was in the NICU. Because of that, my significant other had to take time off from his job. We lost some money and needed help paying the heating bill a few months after she came home. We had to keep the heat pretty high for her and it was very costly. So, I went to the church that I trusted. I went to the church that I had been giving money to for over fifteen years. They told me there were other ways to get help and gave me phone numbers to call. That was it. So, I took the phone numbers and learned that maybe this was just not the thing I could count on the church for. They let me know that even they were having a hard time financially.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I find out that they bailed another member of the church out of jail. I was appalled and livid. Though I had not been actively going to the church for quite some time, I still called it MY church. I still had pride in calling it MY church. When I volunteered in my community, which I do often, I tell them about MY church. My phone calls to the pastor went unanswered. It was very strange to me that he was available to bail a young man with no children and no wife just hours before he was unable to return my call.
I will withdraw my membership from my church. I will have a problem trusting another church with my time, money, and spiritual well being. If a church can not help a mother keep her home warm for her family and infant but can bail someone out of jail, it is not the kind of church I can force myself to have pride in or be associated with.
I am disappointed in the decision that has been made by my former spiritual leaders. It has shown me that sometimes a leader is not worth following.
Please be careful to know where your money goes. Because even churches make horrible decisions.