Congregation Amazes Itself after $50 Gifts

My eyes were misty when I finished reading an AP story by Helen O’Neill about a pastor who both stunned and challenged his congregation by handing out $50 to all of them with a caveat: They had to use the money to raise funds for the church.

The parable of the talents, he told them, goes back to the gospel of Matthew. He entrusts three servants with money and tells them to ‘go forth and do good’ and praises the two who double their sum and chastises the one who is afraid to take a risk.

Hamilton Throckmorton, the pastor in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, had assistants dole out the $50 bills to all 1700 adults in his congregation one Sunday. What resulted was an outpouring of hidden talents and a competition that brought the whole town together. One doctor offered to work shifts for his partners, used the $50 for gas, and earned $3000. Another man gave rides on his Harley to church members for $30 a pop. Others discovered family recipes for soup and sold jars, a retired nurse bought flip flops at Old Navy and decorated them with beads, another offered up a song on a CD written about her dying father.

The talents were legion and at the end of the contest, more than $38,000 above the original $40,000 was raised, and split between three very worthy causes. Many of the aging church members never dreamed they had talents that would earn money, and though some took up the option of giving back the $50, most people rallied and earned far more than the original sum.

I like this story because it shows how a church can bring out so much good in people and that pastors with vision and courage, like Throckmorton, can truly inspire people.