Hi, I’m Marian Johnson, and this is Rebecca Guthrie.  We are your co-chairs for the Annual Budget Drive, which will be officially kicked off at the end of this month. We will be the “public face” of the drive.  A lot of people are doing work on the budget drive behind the scenes.  You’ll be seeing me and a more lively Rebecca up here for the next few weeks giving you progress updates.

The theme of our budget drive this year is “Count Me In.”

Today I’m going to share with you a little about my experience at WUUC and why this budget drive matters to me enough so that I agreed to overcome my natural shyness and stand up here in front of you all.

I was raised in the Methodist Church, but in my late teens I found that I no longer felt comfortable at my church.  For 36 years, I was content to sleep in late on Sundays and work on crossword puzzles.  Eventually, though, I felt the need for something more, and decided to try church again.  The first time I attended a service at WUUC, I found my church home.

All I wanted was to go to Sunday services and maybe meet some like-minded people.  What gradually happened was that I found a community that I had not realized was a missing ingredient in my life.  That was eleven years ago.

Since that time, I have volunteered in various areas at WUUC, all of which have enriched my life.  I have sung in the choir for many years and have been active as a Lay Pastoral Associate and a member of the Human Resources Committee. In each case, I have had the opportunity to contribute to something much greater than anything I could have accomplished on my own.

When preparing to present the Inquirers class on Pastoral Care, I read a quote from the Jewish Theological Seminary that expresses how I feel about what we do at WUUC.  “A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet.  It can be meaningless.  Or, it can be a part of a great meaning.”

I’m sure that each of you has experienced the exhilaration of joining your efforts with those of others to create something more meaningful than anything we could create individually, whether at church, at home, at work or in any part of our lives.

For me, the choir is an excellent example.  I am not a great singer, yet when I contribute my voice to those of the other choir members, we are able to create beautiful and moving music together.

In the same way, the Lay Pastoral Associates come together to listen and share deeply with each other and with others in the congregation, creating a connection that lifts us during times of joy and sorrow and everything in between.

So back to our annual budget drive theme of “Count Me In.” I particularly like it because it has the word “me” in it.  Not the plural pronouns “you” or “us,” but “me.”  Because each one, each individual has a crucial role to play in making WUUC what we want it to be. A role that can’t be played by anyone else.  Each one is that letter that joins with other letters to create a vision, a mission, a meaning: “C-o-n-n-e-c-t. Connect. Engage. Transform.”

When it comes to pledging our time and our money to WUUC, we all have many other demands on both our time and our money.  I admit that I sometimes struggle to keep up with my pledge and my other commitments to WUUC.

When it comes to donating money, there are many worthy organizations and causes that I would love to support, and it is hard to make choices.  I decided several years ago to primarily give to animal welfare organizations.  I reasoned that there are lots of people in the world who care enough about other causes to support them.  The animals do not have as many supporters.  So I give what I can to the animals and hope that others will give what they can to all the other worthy causes.

But there is no “somebody else” at WUUC.  We are it.  I am it.  Each one of us is it.  All of us, when we believe in and support the vision and mission of WUUC, become part of creating that great meaning.