Early June–the season of Pentecost–is my favourite season of the Church year. To me, Pentecost is more than just the gift of the Holy Spirit, bestowed during that original biblical celebration. Pentecost also reminds me of all God’s blessings and how God is present in my life. When I view it this way, the question becomes how I am using what God has given me.
Looking back now at myself as a young person, trying to figure out how God had gifted me and exactly how I would live out my faith, I marvel at how people shared the gifts God had given them with me to support me in my journey. My grandfather gave his compassionate heart, lay leaders and clergy gave unselfishly of their time and skills, and my parents loved me unconditionally. All of them really shaped who I was becoming.
When I left my home province for the first time to attend theological school, I was excited to discover professors and mentors who also graciously offered their knowledge and experience. Then there were others who shared encouragement, hospitality and necessary feedback. All in all, as I prepared for ordination in the United Church, I was truly blessed by others sharing their God-given gifts with me.
In fact, my whole theological education might not have happened without the generosity of others. You see, when I went to the Atlantic School of Theology, my tuition and books were paid in full by forward-thinking donors to the Pine Hill Divinity Hall Endowment Fund. Our Church has been made stronger by their gifts, because through their generosity, I and hundreds more aspiring ministers have been able to live our dream of sharing who we are and what we have been given with others.
Today, over 30 years later, I am still discerning how to best use God’s gifts, both in response to God’s presence in my life and as a thank-you for the kindness of others. Like the Pine Hill donors who saw an opportunity to live their faith through a lasting legacy gift, I want to do likewise! I have always contributed my time, talent, finances and leadership to the church I love, but now I have found another way to make a difference – through the assets I have accumulated during my life, and through my Estate.
No, I am not rich by any means, but I have discovered I don’t have to be rich to offer a meaningful planned gift. Through the work of The United Church Foundation, I am learning that there are many different ways for me to make such an offering, now or when I die. Truly, recognizing how God has gifted each of us and how to use those gifts is a life-long process!
How has God blessed you and your life? What gifts have you discovered? As a way to use those gifts to make a difference in the world, have you considered leaving a lasting legacy to your life with a Planned Gift? It is never too early to arrange such a gift. Find out how.
The world God loves is waiting.
By Rev. Roger Janes, Community of Faith Stewardship Support for First Dawn Eastern Edge, Region 15, Fundy St. Lawrence Dawning Waters, Nakonha:ka, Eastern Ontario Outaouais, and East Central Ontario Regions of the United Church of Canada