Story shared in service on October 9, 2016
Good morning Bishop Wright… welcome to Incarnation. Good morning to Rev. Washington and to my Incarnation family.
Let me start by saying that this is MY STORY!
I’ve been asked to share with you why I give to Incarnation. There are several reasons why I give to Incarnation, however, the greatest reason is because I love the Lord and I love this church: the building, the courtyard, the garden and the Parish Hall. I recognize, as we all do, that we need repairs but I also know we’re working out how to accomplish the needed repairs. I love each and every one of you. Like it or not, you are my family.
Several years ago I served on the Incarnation Vestry as Sr. Warden. Also for 3 years I served as Jr. Warden during the renovation of the Nursery and both bathrooms off the back hallway. We also painted the Parish Hall. We completed repairs to the Education Building including putting in their metal roof. I served as President of our Episcopal Church Women and currently serve as: A Lay Eucharist minister, Chair of the Incarnation Finance Committee and as a member of our Stewardship Committee. I also represent the Church of the Incarnation by serving on the Diocesan Commission on Ministry.
Because the Episcopal Church fully believes we should give of our time, talents and treasure I give my time and talents abundantly as my treasures are limited.
I was raised and educated in New York City and as a child I was a member of Bethany Baptist Church. I graduated from Virginia Union University and received a Masters Degree from Harvard University.
I was blessed to have 2 husbands, one at a time, 2 sons, 1 step son and 8 grandchildren. My boys have been happily married for many years. I did have challenges in my life – like raising my boys as a single mother in the New York City area but those challenges forced me to return to church. I needed God to guide me through their maturation
My greatest blessing was to have my parents in my life as my best friends and travel companions. Most of you know I was blessed to travel and did so, around the world.
Our family moved to Atlanta in 1989 and became members of Incarnation in January 1990. Every year we committed to give, financially, to Incarnation through our pledge. My family and I were not tithers.
As the U.S. economy began to collapse in the early 2,000 out of ignorance I continued to travel, and shop, and charge.
4 years ago I began attending workshops sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese and was intrigued to hear speakers share how they transitioned into tithing. I’d return home after these workshops and sit down with my “bill book” and start rethinking how I might begin to tithe. Month after month, year after year I’d end up not seeing how I could manage to tithe. I then moved on to sharing my desire to tithe with my closest friends who, in turn, would share that they tithed. Yes, it was a struggle for them to meet God’s demand, but, they did it!
One day, very recently, I was talking on the telephone with my girlfriend for the umpteenth time about why I couldn’t tithe and my doorbell started to ring. I thought I knew who might be at the door so I asked my friend to hold on so I could answer the ringing. I jumped up and went to the door. I opened the door but no one was there. I opened the glass screen door and looked up and down the street but no one was on the sidewalk, no cars were driving up or down the street and no cars were parked in my neighbors driveways. I stepped out onto the mat and felt something soft under my feet. I looked down and saw I was standing on an envelope. I picked it up, saw my name on the envelope. Closed the door and I tore open the envelope as I made my way back to the telephone. As I returned to the phone I tore open the envelope and pulled out a check made out to me for a modest amount of money and I heard a voice say “This is your opportunity to tithe! You’ve got to stop procrastinating and start believing! It’s time! Do it now! I quickly looked around to see who was speaking to me! I was dumbfounded! I don’t ever recall having God speak to me so clearly. When I returned to my call couldn’t stop crying as I told my girlfriend what happened. I ended the call and immediately began writing checks to Incarnation. One for 10% of the check I had just received and the other for 10% of my monthly income.
God has been good to me now and throughout my life.
Several months ago I began making great changes in my life:
- I sold my house and downsized to a smaller stair less house;
- I paid off 90% of my credit card debt and threw away the cards;
- I traded in the larger vehicle and now use a small car;
- I’ve reduced my visits to local restaurants and cook at home more frequently;
Now, when I sit with my “bill book” my bills may not always add up on paper but somehow they do get paid. That’s God making a way. With joy I say that I’m at peace with myself; I’m learning to adjust to a new normal; I’m able to tithe; I practice being a joyful giver; and I truly have full faith in God.
Tell us your Incarnation story: