At work, I'm part of the Employee Engagement Committee--we mainly plan festive events that we hope will keep up morale. We had been discussing a pumpkin decorating event. One of our members said he'd been to several key places, like WalMart and Publix and not been able to find pumpkins.
My muscles have only just begun to recover from our great pumpkin offload. I wondered if I should mention our church's pumpkin patch. I thought, why not? I sent the e-mail.
Why is it that I expect negative feedback? I expected people to write back and say, "Forget it. We are not supporting a church." I expected something even more negative.
Happily, that was not the case. People asked if I would be willing to buy the pumpkins, and I said sure. I was even given cash, so that I wouldn't have to pay out of my own pocket. Wow.
People were more worried about my ability to carry the pumpkins than about the possible ethical ramifications of using our school funds to support a church. Had anyone raised that objection, I'd have pointed out that these funds support Vacation Bible School, which helps to inculcate a love of learning and arts and crafts in 70+ children a year.
But I didn't have to offer my well-reasoned arguments about why we should support a church pumpkin patch. People were just happy to find a source of pumpkins and a person who would buy them and transport them.
I am part of the ELCA--the E stands for Evangelical, but I'm not evangelical in the most common use of that word. I don't proselytize. I am not quick to talk about my spiritual life. I don't witness, in the flamboyant sense of that word.
However, I think it's important to remember that there are other ways to witness. I talk about my church when it makes sense in conversations, and I hope that my references to it show it as the community resource that it is. I talk about our food pantry and our VBS programs and the ways we support home schooling groups and the drama troupe for students with learning disabilities. I hope to counter the mass media images of hysterical people demonstrating against this and that.
I must confess that I'm also happy to be able to support our church. It's a win-win--but I do realize that I'm biased.
And I'm also glad for this reminder that it's OK to speak in this way: that I won't always face negative reaction. On the contrary, I might be a welcome solution to a problem.
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