A Pastor's $40,000 Challenge
The Associated Press is carrying the story of The Federated Church, a United Church of Christ' church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Their pastor gave away $40,000 to his congregation in a challenge to have them double the money. Preaching on the Gospel of Matthew's account of Jesus' Parable of the Talents, The Rev. Hamilton Coe Throckmorton gave each adult $50 and each child $10 with a challenge to double that amount. The money was on loan from congregation members and the profit would go to charity. As the article reports,
Talents began multiplying at such a rate that the church held a bazaar after services on two consecutive Sundays for people to display - and sell - their wares.When the October 28th deadline came the church had raised $38,195 over the initial $40,000 with more money coming in later and still trickling in. The final sum will be divided among three groups in the community.
The pretty little village on the Chagrin River falls had never seen anything quite like it. Everyone seemed to be talking about the talent challenge: over the clatter of coffee cups at Dink's restaurant, at the Fireside bookshop on the green, sipping drinks at the Gamekeeper's Taverne. Even members of other churches weighed in: Have you heard what's happening at Federated?
"Anyone can open their wallet and give cash," Kris Tesar said. "This was just an extraordinary process of exploration and discovery and of challenging ourselves. It became bigger than any one of us or than any individual talent."
Throckmorton is asked all the time if the talent challenge will become an annual event, but he is doubtful. It was a special time and a special idea, he says, and he is not sure it could be re-created or relived.The full text of the AP article is online here: Pastor's Challenge Shocks Congregation. The sermon is online here: Sermon September 9, 2007.
Yet in a very real sense, it lives on. Church members who never knew each other have become friends. And orders for applesauce, flip-flops and Rudolph pins are still rolling in for Christmas.