WES Blog — P Is for Pondering on Pledging

It’s spring! P is for purple-pinky red buds bursting out against neon-green, just-emerging tree leaves. And spring comes with a bunch of other P words…peeps, phlox, planting, plawn mowing, and pledging. Yep, spring is WES’s pledge cycle time and we are in the middle of it.

The classic MasterCard® ad, which poses the costs of various daily items versus specific other things that are priceless, starts looping in my mind during pledging. How easily we write a check to support the nuts and bolts that make up WES, but where’s the allowance for WES’s essential intangibles? Do we pledge just to cover the basics, like the mortgage or the coffee? Or do we pledge for priceless—the dynamic life of our beloved community inside the building with a mortgage or our engrossing conversations that nurture relationships around a cup of coffee?

Every line item in WES’s expense budget, I think, has such a priceless component. Consider Amanda’s salary, but she brings far more than “clergy-ness” via her wisdom, strength when we are troubled or ill, her platforms, her intellect, her leadership, her own growth. What about staff and their standard“above and beyond” daily ethic? Consider Balthazar’s maintenance contract, but also his unswerving dependability and ingenuity. Consider coffee (which we LOVE) that lubricates our conversations with each other, and pizza (of course!) that literally brings us to meetings. What about utilities for sound, AC/heat, sun shades, electrical sockets, but that allow us to eat waffles, sit in reflection on Sundays, and groove together on Wednesday@WES and jam sessions?  

Pledging to WES is not like budgeting for a gym membership or for a car note. And yet it is. But if a gym membership’s access to exercise equipment strengthened your ethical values or a car note to own a vehicle cranked out community, would their monthly payments reflect your true return on investment? Determining such value added to your life suddenly gets real tricky. How do you capture WES’s intangibles and their impacts on you in your home budget?

The Stewardship Team decided last year and this year on a new tact, to pull back the curtains on what it costs generally, and costs per person, to run WES and to hold our community. It’s been a revelation, I think, for everyone. And it’s set us all on a learning curve. How do we balance our personal resources, which keep us whole and hearty, with what we contribute for the safekeeping of our WES community—that supports us in good and ill, gives us safe space to wrestle with existential doubts, and nurtures the growth of our core ethical values? It’s a tough piece for the super car note and the beckoning gym membership models to encompass. But then, this is WES, where each of us comes to do the hard stuff, to embrace acceptance, to celebrate the worth of ourselves and each other, to revel in our beloved community.

Keep all these ephemeral gifts in mind as you pledge—these gifts that WES showers on you, that cascade from your community, and that spill from each one of us. WES is your ethical home and it has a budget that supports all of us, who reflect and share core values, and the building that holds us. And the love among us, in all dimensions and degrees, abounds. And it is priceless. And you are priceless.

by Kristin Hunter, Board Trustee