Generosity – ‘Paying It Forward’ to Another in Need

Post a Comment » Written on April 21st, 2009     
Filed under: News
KEENE, NH (April 10, 2009) – In 2005, Pastor Garth McGrath received a phone call that would change the congregational life of Monadnock Covenant Church in Keene, New Hampshire. The call was from longtime friend Pastor Steve Armfield of Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Armfield’s church had committed to support a series of mission offerings to help Monadnock pay its mortgage and expand. Thornapple ultimately gave more than $75,000.

Now, four years removed from Thornapple’s generosity, Monadnock is “Paying it Forward” to Parkside Covenant Church, a young congregation in Clifton Park, New York. Monadnock collected a Palm Sunday special offering of $2,300, says McGrath.

“We take the broader picture of scripture that we’re called into a community of faith. We share in that journey together.”

McGrath initially hoped the congregation would raise $500 and was amazed when he learned how much the members had donated. The church raised roughly $1,700, spurred on by church members who anonymously offered to match up to $500. Money has continued to come in.

The church donated the funds even though the congregation is not yet meeting its own operating budget, McGrath says. He likens the church’s attitude to that referenced by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:1-3.

McGrath, who served as associate pastor at Thornapple for almost nine years before moving to New Hampshire, was floored by the generosity of his former church.

“We were at a crossroads in our church at the time when I was first contacted,” McGrath recalls. “It was a critical stage of making the decision of whether or not we had the resources to continue moving forward (with our construction plans).”

The church was considering whether to expand and build a new ministry center. Armfield’s call was part of the discernment process.

“I received the phone call as an affirmation from God that he wanted the project to move forward,” says McGrath “It wasn’t something we sought; it just came to us from that church. The timing couldn’t have been more significant.”

Monadnock built the new ministry center, a space they already are outgrowing. When McGrath heard about the financial hurdles Parkside Covenant faced, he saw an opportunity to pass Thornapple’s generosity on to another church in need.

“My heart really went out to them,” McGrath says. “I know the anxiety that’s attached to that process. When I heard the condition they were in, it just occurred to me – Thornapple came alongside us – we can do something for Parkside.”

At McGrath’s request, other conference churches have made financial or prayer commitments. He hopes to raise more than $30,000 for Parkside.

“The whole of scripture prompts us to ask who’s our neighbor,” the pastor observes. We care for our neighbor when they’re in need,” says McGrath. “We take the broader picture of scripture that we’re called into a community of faith. We share in that journey together. When part of the body’s strong, we celebrate. When part is weak, we help out. “

Parkside also obtained its property through an unusual gift. A woman who wasn’t part of the congregation donated the land. To read the story, click here.

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