Generosity Propelled by Purpose
June 22, 2021
For some congregations, the pandemic was merely a time to push pause and embrace technology while they were waiting for more normal routines to return. For some churches, this crisis helped them discover new missions and chart potential ministries they had never considered. But for a handful of others, the pandemic reinforced what they already knew God was calling them to accomplish in their communities and solidified their commitment to that call.
“The pandemic strengthened our resolve to follow the path God laid out for us,” Pastor Stan Whites shared. “It offered an opportunity to hone skills that God invites us to practice such as being patient, loving our neighbors regardless of what is happening around us, and living with compassion.”
Four years ago, Sierra Vista UMC in San Angelo, Texas began the Holy Conversation process with TMF Area Representative John Thornburg to discern their strategic purpose, the difference God was calling them to make in the coming season. The church, full of community educators, knew they were particularly called to children and education. As a result of these conversations, they intentionally developed ministries around this call, like their summer literacy program. They fund teacher salaries for a special three-week initiative that helps close the gap for children who are struggling to read.
They also fully empower their laity to lead as God is calling. For instance, one member of the congregation heard that the Church of the Resurrection had a ministry that provided beds to children. She did some research and determined that many children in San Angelo were also going to sleep in makeshift or uncomfortable shared spaces, which she believed was a problem that could be solved. Through her leadership and passion, the church has given away 1,200 beds to children in their community!
With a renewed sense of purpose, the congregation decided to expand their building to better serve the community and align with their mission. Over the last two years, they have added onto their early childhood development center, created multipurpose spaces, expanded the narthex so it could become a gathering place, and expanded their ministry spaces.
“We used TMF as our lender for these building projects because TMF helped us develop a lending plan that would grow our giving base over time,” Stan began. “This flexibility was not something other lenders could offer us. It was a creative approach to support our calling. TMF makes loans to churches on a regular basis, so they fully understand the potential churches have and the challenges churches face. In a financial business, it can be hard to find those who are sensitive to external realities, but TMF’s heart is for this work. It is a ministry, not just a business.”
While TMF offered a loan assistance program during the pandemic, Sierra Vista UMC never had to participate in it. With a congregation fully invested in purpose, giving stayed steady and strong in 2020. Their transformational work demonstrated in the community propelled generosity and faithfulness to their calling throughout the difficult year. Now, as the congregation welcomes the beginnings of a post-pandemic world, a world that has changed and evolved, they are contemplating how they too will be different. What opportunities will be open as a result of the pandemic? What new ministries will be created as they live into their call in this changed world? However they answer these questions and ponder new ones, their God-given purpose will guide them and their faithful generosity will ensure they explore every possibility for the benefit of their community.
If you are interested in working with an Area Representative to walk through the Holy Conversation process, like Sierra Vista UMC, or would like to learn more about this work, please visit our website. You are also invited to reach out to our VP of Area Staff, Carol Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss all the ways Area Representatives work with congregations in Texas and New Mexico.
If you are interested in lending options at TMF, we invite you to visit our website to learn more or to speak directly with one of our loan staff.