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Cutting Down the Old Oak Tree

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

by Donald B. Kraybill, Capital Campaign Co-Chair

I heard this story several times when I was growing up. A nearby church was planning to expand its parking lot as part of a building project. The chair of the board who was overseeing the project was adamantly opposed to cutting down an old oak tree in the parking lot. The tree’s fate was hotly contested. The majority of the board favored removing the tree and the congregation voted overwhelmingly to cut it down despite the chair’s ardent objections. Nonetheless, when the demolition began on a Monday morning the chair arrived early—chainsaw in hand—to take the tree down.

A member of our congregation recently told me, “Don I don’t agree with everything in our building plan, but that’s not gonna shrink my gift. I’m gonna give the same gift regardless of the plan.” That spirit of humility and generosity reflects our sense of family. We sometimes yield our personal preference to the larger body in our spiritual family.

As siblings in God’s family we seek to discern God’s guidance for our congregation. We are one body, a body with many voices, many views, and many perspectives. Even so, we seek common ground as we discern God’s calling for our body. We seek the mind of Christ and the spiritual harmony of our corporate body.

In the Christian community every gift counts, big or small. In the gospel story a widow gave her last penny toward the temple tax. Jesus commended her for making such an enormous sacrifice. Giving is about our spiritual priorities. Giving is about worship. Giving is about altars—at which altars we bow, at which altars we worship.

Our individual circumstances vary. Each one of us has different needs and resources. Unlike a corporation we don’t have a CEO to set our direction and make final decisions. We don’t charge tuition, levy taxes or sell products to generate income. We are entirely dependent on free will offerings, on the generosity of individual donors.

Over the next three months volunteers in our capital campaign will reach out to everyone in our church family. We will invite you to seek God’s leading as you discern the gifts that you can give to improve our facilities so that our witness for peace, service and openness to all goes far Beyond These Walls. photo by Karen Hodges

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