My Stewardship by Jonina Wright

I’m Jonina, and I’ve been a member of this congregation since 2015, almost four years. My husband, Aaron, and I started attending TUUC when we moved to Tacoma almost 5 years ago, and officially became members when we were expecting our son, Julian, who is now two.

When Tori asked me to give a stewardship testimonial to help the message of giving to TUUC monthly to help fund our expenses and mission, admittedly, it took me a day or so until I agreed to this. First of all, I’ve considered myself religiously-recovered for most of my adult life, and giving a public talk about giving money to a religious organization reminded me too much of “testimony meeting” and monthly 10% mandatory tithes from my Mormon days. They would tell us even if we perfectly adhered to every single rule set in place for us, but didn’t pay our tithing, then that was an automatic reduction of full access to heaven. It’s kind of funny now for me now to think about God dealing out tickets to heaven in American currency. I mean what even is the exchange rate for USD to heaven dollars, and who is their accountant?

When I was younger, I would work myself up the entire week just to get the courage to stand up in front of the entire congregation at testimony meeting simply to regurgitate messages that I had been told by other adults in the church. But as I started to think about Tori’s request longer, I started to try and change my perspective and put a different spin on my mentality.

My job is in retail. A trend that’s taken off in the business is subscription-based shopping. In the Nordstrom service, Trunk Club, for example, your monthly membership fee can be applied toward trunks of clothing you receive from a stylist who knows your style and lifestyle and applies their expertise to curate a look just for you. There’s also dinner subscriptions like Purple Carrot and Blue Apron for food and gourmet dinners sent right to your doorstep.

I personally have monthly subscriptions for dog food, diapers, wipes, vitamins, you name it. I pay Costco an annual fee to be able to shop their bulk items at a discounted price. There’s even wine of the month clubs that I’m trying to convince my husband to agree to join!

When I started shifting my mindset from being guilted into a tithing or making a donation for my salvation to more of a monthly subscription idea, it really helped me see all of the ways TUUC fulfills me with a cause and mentality that I love and thrive from. With my subscription to TUUC, I get the option to have someone as loving and patient as Claire in the nursery to watch my child while I take in the messages from that Sunday. With my subscription to TUUC, we had our gifted reverend, Linda to officiate our wedding. With my subscription to TUUC, I am invited into someone’s home for a Chalice Circle where I get to discuss ideas and philosophies of hope, community, covenant, and justice.  I am given the opportunity and invitation to sign my son up for the wonderful children’s programs here that will help echo my lessons and sentiments of inclusion, awareness, and social justice at home. There are countless events that I am given the opportunity to attend with this involved community. With my subscription to TUUC I am invited to join the Race Matters Book Group that gives me a stage and venue to discuss difficult but important issues regarding systematic racism, white fragility, and my lifetime of complicity within a white supremacist country. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a hard sell to get people to pay money to face their white fragility in a group setting, but to me it has been the best money I’ve ever spent.

These are just some of the ways in which I have used TUUC’s offerings to “subscribing” members. I know that there are many more benefits I haven’t even yet become activated in or attended that TUUC offers. There’s no way I can stand up here and tell you what all of those things break down quantitatively for me monthly or what I think the best monthly amount is. But what I can say is that changing my mentality and becoming a financially “subscribing” member of TUUC has been a very valuable investment for me and my family.