Mary Perrin is the rector of St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a vital, joy-filled, generous community in the Diocese of Western Michigan. Mary also serves on the diocesan Standing Committee and on The Episcopal Church’s Lifelong Formation Council.
Generosity Leads to Joy
Stewardship is “taking care of the earth and all who live on it.
” Tithing is “sharing 10% of what God has given us.”
“Tithing Halloween” is a fun and successful way to help parishioners of all ages understand the concepts of stewardship and tithing.
The project is introduced in the weeks prior to Halloween, and parents are asked to:
- Talk with their children before they go “trick or treating,” and then
- Guide their kids through the activities after they return home with their treats.
Goals of “Tithing Halloween”:
- The awareness of our duty as Christians to share our abundance to do God’s work and help others
- The practical understanding of the tithe as 10%: 1 out of every 10
- The understanding that to “love our neighbors” includes more than the people who live next to us, and even includes people we may not know or like
- Observing the many needs in the world around us (both near and far) and deciding how to use our available resources to help meet those needs
- Realizing that one person cannot possibly meet every identified need, which means we have to decide where and how we will choose to give our gifts
- Understanding that by putting our gifts together with other people’s contributions, more needs can be met, and more of what God calls us to do can happen.
We give families suggestions of how to figure out what 10% is, (view our brochure) tell them to whom the church will be donating the candy, make suggestions of other places the candy can go (if, for example, they cannot make it to church on Sunday, or if they want to give some through the church and some on their own), and invite the adults to participate, too.
“Tithing Halloween” is truly formational. It provides many opportunities for thought, discussion and learning, and it is a great way to teach and nurture generosity and stewardship. And it’s fun, too! When the candy is gathered on the Sunday after All Saints Day, it is amazing to see that when everyone’s little bit is combined with the gifts from everyone else, the resulting pile is huge!
One unanticipated benefit is that adults learn as much or more than the kids. When parents see what a difference it makes that everyone participates even if they only have a little to give, they realize that every pledge to the church makes a difference (Halloween is, of course, usually during our pledge drive); combined with the gifts of others, ministry can be funded.
Note: Another surprise was that in our first year of doing this, more than one family shared that when their kids saw how much they had left over (the 90%), they wanted to give away more to help the kids who were in the hospital and couldn’t go “trick or treating.” They took a second pile of 10%… and then a third… and a couple families ended up giving away more than they kept – and they had fun doing it.
Tithing Halloween is a wonderful example of generosity leading to joy. And, as the Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10, “the joy of the Lord is our strength!”
Happy Halloween, everyone!