Supporter, Sustainer, Visionary, Transformer?

I’m a believer in commitments but struggle to practice in any disciplined manner, which is one of the reasons I so admired my late wife Mary. Long before I met her, she tithed. In December she’d bring up her Excel of non-profits, make adjustments until it totaled 10% of her income, sort by amounts and write checks.

The Boston Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church, where we met, was on that list, somewhat below the Woman’s Shelter where Mary served on the board, and above organizations like the Equal Rights Campaign and NPR (we were not very unique New England lesbians!)

When we changed UU churches though, our combined Pledge climbed right up Mary’s list.

Partly because the new congregation was closer, so we became more involved. I became a Youth Group Advisor, Mary joined a small group. But mostly because the Pledge Team at that congregation introduced us to the UUA’s Fair Share Giving Guide.

“Huh,” I thought when I saw it, and then I nudged my wife and said “We have to do better.”

I was definitely the “church lady” of our partnership by then, but even I hadn’t thought much about defining the influence the church had on my life and perspective. So I liked the commitment level categories (as goofy as they may seem). More, I just liked knowing that all else being equal (Mary and I had no debts, no children, no outstanding expenses) exactly what equitable support of our congregation might look like for us.

I am a little embarrassed to say that although we doubled our pledge that year, we didn’t even quite meet the first level of support. Partly because Mary had her own longstanding commitment to match whatever she gave to the church with what she gave through the church via Share the Plate (the second offering plate tradition of her Catholic upbringing was deep in her!). Luckily we were in a position to increase both in a way that felt right enough to each.

The same chart helped me when my income as a family decreased on Mary’s death – and again when my conviction grew that not only is the UU church good for me and our community, but also for the world. Even I could see that a Visionary level of giving to First Church was the right goal for me at that point.

As always – everyone’s contribution to First Church is a personal private choice about what is right for their family. As always every single gift that helps support this wonderful community is meaningful and so appreciated!

But if you are curious—More information is available on the UUA Fair Giving Chart at

Lynne Jacoby, Director of Membership & Development

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