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Giving First

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by Amalia Vagts, executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries 

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This past Monday night, my partner David and I were driving to an orchestra concert at school. We had an “NPR” moment – those times when you are trapped in your car by a story you want to hear. This was a report about charitable giving and since Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries exists because of the generous investment of individuals and congregations, I was curious.

One thing that jumped out for me was the comment that most people do their charitable giving after they’ve paid for everything else – fixed expenses, savings, and personal enjoyment. Of course, I’ve always thought that the friends of ELM who write checks faithfully to us to support LGBTQ pastors and seminarians were a unique bunch. So I have to think we are different than the norm in this regard too. I’ve met many of the people who have been involved with ELM over the years.  And for most, supporting ELM is a priority.

I thought about David’s and my giving. The biggest charitable check we write each month is to ELM, second biggest to our congregation, and then we have a few other organizations we support. Okay, we don’t actually write the checks (it is 2013 after all), rather they are automatically deducted from our account. They come out each month, right after our paychecks go in. That way, they are just part of what we do every month. Every year, when we add all of this up, David says, “We gave THAT MUCH away?” I don’t say that to pat ourselves on the back for being generous or to intimate that David isn’t aware of what we give. Rather I share it for three reasons: 1) if I’m going to ask you to write a check to ELM, I want you to know that my family does it too; 2) making a gift each month really adds up to quite a surprising amount for the things we care about; and 3) since it’s automatically deducted we just give it without trying to decide each month if we can swing it or not.

It’s the season when you are being asked to give (you may even have a letter from me in your mailbox or on your table). For all who support non-profits at any level, I say THANK YOU. You probably hear from every organization that “we couldn’t do it without you.” And it’s true. And who would want to? Doing this work with all of you is way too much fun.

Advent Blessings to you. Thank you for all you do for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.