Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Miracle? Rick Warren, Fundraising and a Purpose Driven Wallet

Did you catch the news this past week that mega-church pastor Rick Warren sent out a hail mary-type message to his congregation letting them know that they needed $900,000.00 to get themselves out of the red for 2009. Yes, almost a million bucks filling Saddleback's Purpose Driven, er, God's coffers.

Well, breaking news this morning is: he did it. Announced on twitter this morning, Pastor Warren announced the following message:
Radically changed lives at Saddleback "vote with their wallet" to show their love for Jesus. $2,400,000 CASH given midweek.
Friends, what's wrong with this picture?

We all know that Warren has been all over the news in 2008-09. First with his support of Prop (hate) 8 in California, and then with his relationship to the proposed legislation in Uganda. And yet, in two days he can issue a call for what seems like an overwhelming amount of money (especially compared to our ask of $100,000.00) and not only did he get the asked amount, but literally had a loaves and fishes response.

But friends, I won't make this story about Rick Warren. I do not want to perpetuate the "us and them" line of thinking, I have no need to covet or be jealous of Warren and the ministry of Saddleback Church.  Rather, this news has caused me to put the focus squarely on me, a Jane Average member of IntegrityUSA.

I believe with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my strength that WE actually tell a bigger, more beautiful, more expansive story of God. When we say ALL the sacraments for ALL the baptized, we actually mean all. I think the work we have done from 1974-2009 is nothing short of remarkable. 2009 was a banner year for Integrity. We marched forward not only as witnesses to the Episcopal Church at General Convention, but as Christians worldwide. We have been a very loud voice in the public square, for LGBT people and for the Episcopal Church in matters of faith, marriage and equality.

Friends, we all work hard for good reason and cause: to be witnesses to God's inclusive love for all. This is our message. This is our call. We too are purpose driven.

As you may already know, we're asking our friends to share—either in text or video format—how Integrity has been a blessing to YOU during its 35 years of ministry.  Whether you are new to Integrity or are a long time friend, we want to hear from you. Your story is OUR story.

We're also asking you to express your gratitude with a financial gift. The goal is $100,000.00. We know that times are hard right now, but as the Saddleback community has shown, we too can vote with our wallets. What does Integrity's work of witness and inclusion mean to you? For me, it's my life as a member of the family of God and the LGBT community. And although I am one of the many who do not have health insurance or full time work right now, I think I can find a few dollars for this work that we do together. How about YOU?

Rachel Swan is a volunteer for IntegrityUSA and was a member of the communications team for General Convention in Anaheim California. She and her partner live in Minneapolis, MN. Rachel can be found blogging at The Sweet Bi and Bi and The Swandive.

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