Hanover College sits on the banks of the Ohio River. Founded in 1827 by Madison Presbytery, it is a vibrant place. From the end of WWII to 2005, our Synod held an event there each July called Synod School. My older son John and I could hardly wait until the time would come that we could go there be- cause of all the stories we’d heard about it.
We lived in dorms and most of our days were focused on worship, classes, food, swimming, intramural events and lots of fellowshipping. It’s kind of like going to 24 hour a day intergenerational Vacation Bible School and you become totally immersed in the community which stretches your heart and your brain. Some of my best friends are people that I see only at this or similar events. In time, I became chair of the Synod School Task Force. These days, I participate in a successor event called Covenant Gathering that shares the same values.
I love talking to our Doughboys because you never know what will come
up. We’ve discovered that we used to spend hot July days elbow to elbow on the banks of the Ohio River at Synod School - Libby Rasmussen, the Pughs, the Bremners and my family. Jim (which one?) told me that he got in trouble his second year at Synod School because he brought a window AC unit with him, removed the screen from his room’s window and set himself
up for comfort! It’s hot in July on the Ohio! The reason I laughed so hard is I’m grateful he did that BEFORE I was in charge of the event and would have had to be the one to make him remove the air conditioner and put the screen back in.
For me, one of the delights of being Presbyterian is this interconnectedness we have with each other. Because we value lifelong education for pastors and church folks, we have spent per capita dollars, for more than a century, on expanding people’s minds and hearts and practices at events like Synod School. We believe we get the most value for our dollars spent by training leaders, who in turn go into the field and train others, maximizing our investment.
When we contribute to per capita giving we are supporting the operating of the levels of the church above us. The amount of $34.22 per UPC member supports the presbytery in its’ work with congregations and pastors, supports the Synod in its training and education focus and sup- ports the Office of the General Assembly in its ecumenical work, global commitments and partner- ships and governing. When we choose to give this voluntary offering, we are not only helping UPC’s budget, freeing money to be spent in other areas, we are also saying “I’m in, I belong and I want to support my church.” Presbyterians never live in isolation. Personally, I like our interconnectedness, the support pastors freely give each other, the sense of community and being caught up in larger purposes with others. I like working in different parts of the Synod and finding every- where I go people who I’ve been with without knowing it – at Synod School, at Triennium, at conferences – having their lives changed while mine was also being changed. I’m not sure what Jim learned about Jesus when he had to remove his air conditioner from his window, but I know that even today he is very glad he spent time with his family living as Christians are meant to live – in a rich, intentional, loving community where everyone is treated like the valuable equals they are in the eyes of God. It’s made him a better person to have his life shaped by per capita dollars used to teach us how to be more like Jesus. That’s why I give. How about you?