“Called to be the Church – Loving Our Neighbours” is the United Church’s 2019 giving program theme. At Deer Park together with St. Andrew’s, we have been loving our neighbours in significant and life-giving ways – everything from food security to programs for children and youth to support for the LGBTQ community and so much more. Our love for each other is experienced in worship, small groups, embraces, quiet conversations, and warm hospitality. We connect and come alive because in those relationships love grows. We “follow the way of Jesus” who is the Lord of Love and love becomes our way.
What you are about to read I think holds true in Canada as well. Jeff Jacoby says in “A Less Religious America Will Be a Less Generous America” (Boston Globe, January 22, 2019), “Religious faith and institutions, whatever may be wrong with them, are the strongest drivers of philanthropic works in US society. If religion in this country is going down, charitable giving and volunteering are likely to go down, too.”
Jacoby quotes Karl Zinsmeister (editor of the Almanac of American Philanthropy), “Religious practice links us in webs of mutual knowledge, responsibility, and support like no other influence. Religious practice is the behavioral variable with the strongest and most consistent association with generous giving.” A report from the Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy says that religiously affiliated households on average give $1, 590 per year to charity compared to only $695 of religiously unaffiliated households.
Religious people “are more likely to adopt children, to resettle refugees, to rehabilitate prisoners, and to help the homeless” (Jacoby). This is our story. This is our good news. For Christians, the faith and love we know imbues existence with meaning and purpose. People of faith seem to live and thrive in doing good, reaching out, being kind and generous, and enjoying simple pleasures. Of course, there are others with no religious affiliation who also live in such a manner, however, I want to recognize and honour the people of faith, the people in our congregations and faith communities who know what it is to love God and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. We are on a great journey! Thank you!