Excess Giving Returned to Members – and Multiplied!

Post a Comment » Written on September 5th, 2008     
Filed under: News
SIOUX FALLS, SD (September 5, 2008) – A group of members from Prairie Hills Covenant Church recently pooled $370 and with creativity and hard work turned it into $10,000 to help pay the medical bills for a two-year-old girl suffering from leukemia who attends their church.

The group sponsored a community-wide event that included a silent auction, food, and a carnival – all of that activity brought in $10,000 in revenue to benefit the child who was scheduled to begin chemotherapy the following day. Start-up costs for the event totaled $370. But, the story has another interesting twist.

At the end of 2007, Prairie Hills discovered that it had received $8,700 more in giving than the $404,000 that had been budgeted, says pastor Dawn Burnett. Church leaders decided the excess money should be returned to the congregation, who would then decide how to use the funds for acts of compassion.

The church gave each person (including children) $50 as long as recipients agreed to report back to the congregation what was done with the funds. Church members did not know of the plan until they arrived for worship on a Sunday in May. Leaders told them they would distribute the money that day and the following Sunday.

“They were surprised,” Burnett says. “You don’t go to a worship service expecting the church to give you money.”

The group that pooled its funds to raise $10,000 to help the little girl proved only the tip of the iceberg. Other members also eagerly went to work over the summer – individuals, families and groups of members – using the seed money in a variety of ways that ranged from purchasing medical supplies for foreign missions to helping a shelter that serves abused children and spouses.

A subsequent community event featured church members selling items they had made, including salsa and blankets. Each “vendor” gave profits to the cause of their choice. Burnett says it is impossible to calculate the total value generated by the initial $8,700 investment.

“It has been really fun to hear how people have been able to bless other people or organizations,” Burnett says. Especially fun have been stories such as what happened to the family of Tim and Beverly Jorgenson.

The couple, along with their two sons, Matt, 14, and Andrew, 11, had prayed what to do with the $200 they had been given. The next day Beverly received an email from a medical group with which she had a connection that had run out of insulin for the villagers they serve. The cost of the insulin needed – $200.

The church also has benefited from the compassion they have shared, Burnett says. “It’s helped a lot of our people to be more intentionally focused.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service lists South Dakota seventh in volunteering, and Sioux Falls has a reputation for being generous with giving so Burnett isn’t surprised by the congregation’s response.

“People are very giving here,” she says.

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