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Practical generosity

Celebrating Pentecost with great joy

by Gina Yeager-Buckley

Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky

What is practical generosity?

Some churches have faced confusion about how to utilize their share of the Pentecost and Peacemaking Offerings. In some cases, this has led churches not to receive those offerings at all. So, in order to get ideas flowing across the denomination, we asked our social media followers for examples of how they were utilizing these funds to make a difference in their own communities. This month’s example of practical generosity comes from Gina Yeager-Buckley of Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

At Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, when our youth group is “big” we have around 10 people. By conventional—and somewhat unhelpful—measurement standards, I guess we’re small. But you would never guess that from the enthusiasm and support of the adult members for the youth of Central. This is demonstrated in a number of ways: fundraising for special trips, gleeful support when young people lead worship, attendance at youth’s school functions and special events. But I am particularly proud of my “small” church’s encouragement, promotion, and use of the annual Pentecost Offering. Without fail Central Presbyterian receives this “special” Special Offering each year. Central celebrates Pentecost with great joy! This joy is visible in the decoration of the sanctuary, the congregational call to renewal, and the receiving of an offering that benefits youth, young adult, and children at risk.

One of the really fun and helpful aspects of the Pentecost Offering is that a congregation is encouraged to keep 40 percent of the offering to use for ministry supporting children at risk, youth, or young adults. Central has used its 40 percent in a number of different ways. We have used it to send young people to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium, a national youth gathering for high schoolers that happens every three years. We have used it to send children and youth to Camp Cedar Ridge, a fantastic Presbyterian camp in the beautiful woodlands surrounding Louisville. And we have used it to encourage and assist adult volunteers to further their knowledge and skills in youth ministry by sending them to Pathways Youth Leader Seminars or Godly Play training.

Some years we choose to use proceeds to benefit children or youth who are not necessarily immediately found in the church building but who live in the neighborhood near the church. These children have attended summer camp with Central’s love and hope traveling with them.

I am grateful to Central Presbyterian Church—for its vision and its practical support of our younger members. It is a gift to have that 40 percent. The funds provide a unique opportunity to plan and care for young people in a creative way informed by theological reflection. It is also a very real way to carry out a congregation’s vow at the time of a young person’s baptism. To care for someone and see to their spiritual education and formation is to find ways for them to connect their gifts with God’s wide world and deep community.

If you would like to share your story for publication in the Special Offerings newsletter, please email us.


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