Small Congregation Issues Big Giving Challenge

Church of the Brethren Newsline
November 29, 2007

Who said, “Be careful what you pray for, because you might get it?” To paraphrase: Be careful what you propose to a congregation because it might happen.

So it was at the Sunnyslope Brethren/United Church of Christ in Oregon and Washington District, a congregation jointly affiliated with the Church of the Brethren and the United Church of Christ. One member of the congregation was inspired by a recent letter from Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board, and Ken Neher, director of Stewardship and Donor Development. The letter raised concerns about the General Board’s $150,000 giving shortfall for 2007, and the subsequent $15,000 offering received at the General Board’s October meeting given by General Board members, staff, and visitors.

This member proposed to the congregation on Nov. 18 that the next Sunday they take a special offering to “do our part in addressing that deficit.” The congregation decided that this was something they indeed ought to do. A women’s group in the church sponsors an annual Christmas Bazaar and said, “Great! We’ll match whatever the congregation raises.”

On Sunday, Nov. 25, the special offering was collected and it totaled a few dollars over $1,300. With the Christmas Bazaar match, it became $2,700 toward erasing the General Board ministries’ giving shortfall for the year.

Now, for the rest of the story. The Sunnyslope Church is a congregation of just 55 to 65 worshipers, but we are serious about challenging the rest of the 1,030 congregations and fellowships in the denomination to do something similar yet in December. We feel this was a God-inspired miracle, and believe other churches could be similarly inspired when they hear our story.

–Galen Miller is a retired pastor at Sunnyslope Brethren/United Church of Christ in Wenatchee, Wash. In the interest of full disclosure, he also is father-in-law to Ken Neher, but claims that he had the initiative for a special offering going “before he even heard about it!”

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The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to Submit news to the editor at For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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