Inspired by the biblical image of the Israelites giving the “first fruits” of their harvest back to God (e.g. Lev 23:9-‐14; Prov 3:9), at our 2011 Annual Meeting, we made a commitment of allocating five percent of our income to “Giving Beyond Ourselves.”
What is “Giving Beyond Ourselves”?
In subsequent meetings, the Parish Council became aware that “Giving Beyond Ourselves” had not been adequately defined, and as a consequence, there was some confusion in the church community regarding what this meant. After substantial discussion, the Parish Council decided that it understood “Giving Beyond Ourselves” to refer to ministries, organisations, or areas of need which are not part of our Highgate ministry, in which we have no control over how the resources we give are managed. Examples of such ‘Giving Beyond Ourselves’ we have engaged in during recent years include contributions toward Christchurch Earthquake relief, the work of Christian World Service, and the Servants Health Centre in Dunedin.
How is the 5% portion calculated?
The Parish Council understood the commitment of “5%” made at the 2011 Annual Meeting to refer to 5% of the monetary offerings (loose and envelope) received each year across the parish. This portion is now being calculated monthly, and each month, 5% of the offerings received is transferred into a separate account to be used for “Giving Beyond Ourselves” (though it will not necessarily be distributed on a monthly basis).
We clarified that money received for special offerings (e.g. a special Christmas appeal) would be given over and above this 5%, in order to be consistent with the concept of ‘first fruits’. However, in the case of our recent appeal for the Christchurch Earthquake relief, in which the Parish Council committed to match parishioners special contributions dollar for dollar, we believed that it would be appropriate for the “Parish Council portion” to be drawn from the “Giving Beyond Ourselves” fund.
The decision to direct 5% of our offerings toward Giving Beyond Ourselves was made for an initial period of one year, and will be discussed again at our 2012 Annual Meeting later this year.
How do we distribute the “Giving Beyond Ourselves” fund?
The Parish Council agreed that it would be helpful to identify general criteria we can refer to when making decisions about distributing these funds, and that the parish as a whole should be invited to help determine these criteria. For example, we might like to consider the proportion of funds we distribute locally v.s. globally, or whether we prioritise giving to Christian ministries over other organisations, or whether there are particular areas of focus (e.g. the Pacific, or microenterprise schemes, or initiatives caring for children) that are deemed to be important by the congregation as a whole.
The historic and relational mission commitments that Highgate At Ten and B@tCH each have were acknowledged, and the importance of honouring those was noted. In addition, the Parish Council has discussed whether it is best for the leadership of each hub to oversee a portion of these funds, or whether the distribution should be by the Parish Council (for the remainder of this financial year, it will be a combination of both).
Interested in further discussion?
As noted above, the Parish Council believes it is important for the wider congregation to be involved in shaping the criteria we will refer to when distributing the “Giving Beyond Ourselves” funds. Accordingly, you are invited to participate in a discussion to be held on Tuesday 5 June, 7.30pm, at Highgate Church (580 Highgate). If you’re unable to make this meeting, but have ideas you’d like to contribute, please contact the church office.