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Message from our Moderator

by Anne Malmquist

"Where your treasure is, there your heart is also." (Matthew 6:21)


I grew up in the American Baptist tradition. I was baptized by immersion when I was 13 and joined the church. I’m 13. My father is the minister of the church. A member of the stewardship committee came to my door and made me fill out a pledge card. That is my first memory of Stewardship campaigns. They still make me feel creepy.

However — as your Moderator on behalf of the cabinet I have to present to the congregation a budget that again runs a significant deficit. So despite our Old New England sensibilities, we have to talk about it.  

First, there is no diocese or larger church denomination that gives the church money. Many people that were raised in different traditions believe that churches have lots of money that comes from THE CHURCH or some other source and so the church doesn’t really need my money (I feel that way about Boston University when they send me slick postcards asking for donations). Our church runs 100% on donations from church members, fundraisers, and a dwindling endowment fund [see page 2 of the Treasurer’s report on page 15]. We make all of our governance decisions ourselves and we are responsible for the entirety of the running of the organization. It may seem like we have some secret fund because we have run on a deficit budget but that just meant we are depleting our endowment, and we can not continue to do that. I have been surprised when talking to people that a lot of people don’t realize that THE CHURCH does not provide any financial support, but they don’t. In fact, we give money to the conference. 

In the first part of our reading this morning, Jesus tells us we should give alms in secret, and not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3). Far be it for me to question Jesus, but this is not good business advice. Since we make our business decisions together, we need to be transparent about what all the hands are doing. This concept is baked into the Congregational Church tradition. It is why we have clear glass in the windows of the sanctuary. This is why pledging is so important. If we have a commitment of funds we can make better business decisions. Your pledges are not public information and should remain between you and God, but the sum total of pledges are what drives our ability to minister to the communty, and keep our building open.

At this moment in time in our world, talking about church and talking about being a Christian comes with a lot of qualifiers. The concept of church and Christianity has been hijacked by groups that call themselves churches but do not follow any of the teachings of Jesus. 

Several months ago, a student asked me if I was a Christian, and I paused before I answered them. What they were asking me was if I objected to their pink hair and their pronouns and their struggles with mental health issues. I don’t remember exactly what I did say, but what I wish I’d said was that I am a follower of Jesus. 

All of our services begin with the assurance that you are welcome in our church no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, political persuasion, or immigration status. This is not true for all organizations calling themselves Church. I said earlier that I was raised in the American Baptist tradition. Please do not confuse them with the Southern Baptist Conference that has recently been exposed as engaging in very unChristlike behavior. My Dad was one of the only pastors in the Boston area who was willing to participate as a clergy person in healing services during the AIDS crisis. People were hurting and dying and looking to have their humanity affirmed, the exact people Jesus tells us to minister to, and Churches refused them. And many still do. These are the hypocrites that Jesus refers to in our reading this morning.

And this is why it can feel weird to ask people to donate to church causes. Our church works very hard to follow the teaching of Jesus. If you are hungry, our food pantry will feed you. If you need clothing, the Women’s Guild can hook you up with the best clothing in town. If you are sick, the care team will try to meet your needs, whether it’s a meal, a ride, or the comfort of prayer. 

When I was talking with my friend Kathleen about how much we love this church, she said that at our church “A seat at the table has no wait list, no seating chart, and no dress code.” That truly is who we are. 

So, we are going to have to get creative in the coming months and years with how we use and solicit our resources.


Congregational churches are typically located on the town square so that the building can be used as a community center.

* Every week, many recovery groups use this space to meet and heal.

* Several scout troops meet here to build character and fellowship.

* We house the Bridgewater Food Pantry which helps alleviate the hunger of the body and the soul.

* Julia Scott Carey ministers to us with world-class music and musicians.

* Rev. Beth provides comfort and strength and leadership not just to our congregation but to the community as well. She is now the longest-serving clergyperson in town and has become a spiritual leader for many people who will never enter this building and for people that we will never see.

Churching already looks different than it did 10 years ago. Our church can be and is a place for the hope and support and fellowship that we are craving and needing. This is a very exciting time and while things can look bleak through one lens, if we change our focus we can see opportunity. This deficit budget doesn’t have to come to fruition. We are not trying to frighten or arm twist, rather we are being transparent about the realities of our needs so that you can prayerfully consider your pledges and other ways to share your time talent and treasure. As Jesus tells us, “where your treasure is, there your heart is also.”(Matthew 6:21)


This was presented this as the CSCC sermon on Sunday, June 11, 2022.