A Conversation with Grace Duddy Pomroy – Part Two

Grace Duddy Pomroy will be one of the keynote speakers at the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s Leadership Seminar in Florida in December. As a good friend of mine and a Millennial, I thought it would be fun to have her share some thoughts prior to the seminar on the COMPASS blog.

What follows are the continued thoughts from a recent conversation and interview I conducted with Grace. Be sure to check out the first part of the conversation here.

Timothy Siburg (TS): Taking a broader brush now Grace, what are some insights and implications about Millennials, giving, and the church that stand out to you?

Grace engaging the conversation about young adults, giving and the church

Grace engaging the conversation about young adults, giving and the church

Grace Duddy Pomroy (GP): “The intergenerational aspect to the conversation around stewardship is imperative. The cross-generational talking points are huge. There needs to be more space in the church for conversations like how to engage young parents, and respond more directly to the unique and constantly changing lifestyles and challenges younger adults face. This is a huge opportunity for the church, and one for which old models may not work. Engaging Millennials in conversations about faith-based stewardship and generosity presents both a wonderful challenge and golden opportunity.

In meeting this challenge, peer-to-peer engagement is key. Part of the challenge and opportunity for the church is tapping into the power of peer-to-peer engagement among Millennials, especially with advocacy.

For an example of how this can be effective, consider Jacob’s Well, a missional community in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Just last week they, along with most other non-profits in Minnesota, participated in “Give to the Max Day” a day where people are highly encouraged to give and support their favorite causes and/or organizations. As part of the day, there are different prizes and incentives. Jacob’s Well decided to leverage social media and peer-to-peer engagement. They figured that they could be the most given to organization between 2-3am that morning, and receive a special “Golden Ticket.” These are incentives like an extra $1000 (or more) for different benchmarks or goals. One is being the most engaged or given to group each hour. To try and encourage everyone to give though at 2am instead of during a normal business hour, Jacob’s Well used social media to have people say, ‘I’m in, are you?’ The excitement covered all of their social media, and they had so many people give. I’m not sure if they made their goal or not, but it just shows what engagement can look like around a cause with shared passion. For me, this is a good reminder about the power of social media.”

TS: Grace, this is a fantastic conversation, so thank you. To wrap this up I have a couple quick other questions. First, COMPASS is all about faith, finances and young adults. What comes to your mind about that intersection?

GP: “As a blogger myself and one of the points of emphasis of my blogging, I believe that young adults today have a deep understanding of frugality that they would never name themselves. They are frugal by their nature. I think this largely has to do with the fact that most of this generation of young adults came out of school and college in the midst of a major recession. Many decided just to go back to school, and are now entering the workforce with loans, but they are entering with honesty and hope.”

TS: In the spirit of the COMPASS blog in November’s focus of “An Attitude of Gratitude,” what are some of your thoughts on gratitude?

Grace and her Grandpa

Grace and her Grandpa

GP: “Gratitude has always been huge in my life. It’s not the same thing as stewardship, but they go together well. I grew up in a family where thank you notes were customary. They may have started as a ‘have to’ but quickly became a ‘want to’ and regular part of life. I honestly believe that expressing gratitude can change a person’s life.

A personal story. My grandfather just started kidney dialysis treatments. Recognizing this and that I can’t physically be with him and my grandmother, I wanted to find a way to still be present with them. A friend suggested that I write a letter. I am now writing a letter of thankfulness and gratitude to them each week, telling them how grateful I am for their influence in life. It’s been so much fun to hear back from them about how they appreciate my questions, the sharing of memories, etc. I’m enjoying it so much too, that’s why I am writing each week instead just once or twice.”

Wedding Picture courtesy of Tandem Tree

Wedding Picture courtesy of Tandem Tree

TS: Finally, with Thanksgiving being this week, what are you thankful for?

GP: “Well, I just recently got married and so I am incredibly thankful for my husband Tyler. In addition to that, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is my dad’s and also has become mine. It’s my favorite because there are no gift expectations, rather we gather on Thanksgiving and are just grateful for each other’s presence and company. There is something beautiful and wonderful about that.”

Thank you Grace for sharing. I hope you enjoy hearing more from Grace at the Leadership Seminar next week. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Grace headshotAbout the Interviewee: Grace Duddy Pomry is Executive Director of Operations at Kairos and Associates, and previously served as Assistant Director for the Center for Stewardship Leaders and Luther Seminary. She is author of “Stewards of God’s Love”, recently published by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She blogs regularly and you can follow her on Twitter.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

A Conversation with Grace Duddy Pomroy- Part One

Grace headshotGrace Duddy Pomroy will be one of the keynote speakers at the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s Leadership Seminar in Florida in December. As a good friend of mine and a Millennial, I thought it would be fun to have her share some thoughts prior to the seminar on the COMPASS blog. What follows are thoughts from a recent conversation and interview I conducted with Grace.

Timothy Siburg (TS): Grace, what are you looking forward to at Leadership Seminar?

Grace Duddy Pomroy (GP): “I am most looking forward to being with leaders that I don’t have the opportunity to interact with on a regular basis. I’m excited for the fellowship and conversation, as well as to share with this audience about adults under 40.”

TS: Speaking of adults under 40, what might be a 15-second preview of your presentation?

GP: “Well, I intend to begin by setting the stage with some differences among generations. Then we’ll think about the how and why of giving and charities, and differences across generations. I’ll highlight a number of assumptions held by different generations (about other generations), name them, and then spend some time thinking about the importance of engagement.”

TS: In thinking about Millennials and adults under 40, what have you seen and discovered in your work and research?

GP: “To be perfectly honest, when I started in this work and research there wasn’t a lot written about adults under 40. That’s changed. Today you can’t go one day without seeing a new story about Millennials. The problem is, I’m not sure we have any better understanding about Millennials now than when I started on this work. The only big change is that there’s an awareness of different generations, and Millennials themselves finally are actually part of the conversation. In highlighting this, there was a series of articles in a recent denominational issue of a magazine about Millennials, which served as the majority of the issue. While well intentioned, they are full of misconceptions. Articles like this illustrate the lack of cross-generational engagement in the church.”

TS: What observations might you add about young adults and giving?

GP: “My observations about giving are fairly anecdotal. The best research I have found comes from Blackbaud and the Millennial Impact Reports, which have now been published annually from 2010-2013. Millennials by and large are devoted to causes, not institutions. They tend to believe it’s important to give, and their personal values play a big role in deciding how and when to give.”

TS: What have you learned and discovered specifically about Millennials and giving?

GP: “Millennials seem to do well with micro and monthly giving. When I convened a giving circle among a group of senior seminary students, I found that a few of these students give regularly to congregations or faith communities. But nearly all of them give monthly to NPR (National Public Radio). It’s not that they give a lot, but they give monthly, as NPR makes it possible for them to give $5 per month. There are some serious implications for faith communities in recognizing this. I think the greatest implication is the ability to give small but regular gifts to a cause.”

TS: Speaking of faith communities and seminary, what shaped your education about stewardship?

GP: “To be honest, except for one class, seminary taught me little about stewardship. The one exception was the class I took called, “Money and Mission of the Church.” Lynne Twist’s The Soul of Money, quickly became my go-to stewardship book. It explains a theology of abundance without using the term, focusing instead on what the author terms the ‘sufficiency.’”

Grace and I had such a wonderful conversation, that we are only half way done. For the rest of our conversation, be sure and see part two.

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About the Interviewee: Grace Duddy Pomry is Executive Director of Operations at Kairos and Associates, and previously served as Assistant Director for the Center for Stewardship Leaders and Luther Seminary. She is author of “Stewards of God’s Love”, recently published by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She blogs regularly and you can follow her on Twitter.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

The Challenges and Beauty of Gratitude: A Millennial Perspective

Today on the COMPASS blog we continue our space of reflections related to “An Attitude of Gratitude” and Thanksgiving. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to today’s guest blogger, Allison Siburg. Allison is a theologically trained millennial, and also happily married to Timothy.

Now before you bail on this blog post by this 20-something that clearly doesn’t have it all together, I should share that I didn’t hack the COMPASS blog – I was asked by the editor and curator (and husband of mine) of this beautiful blog to contribute and I said “Yes!”

22b1683134ca7369efed0ae7f70f4f5fTimothy asked me the question, “Is it easy or hard to be grateful?” For me, it depends. If I’m in a good place mentally, I am awesome at being grateful. When I focus my thoughts on my unique ethnic makeup, economic status, personal and professional networks – with a mindset that they are all gifts from which to serve, and not of which to extort or take advantage I find myself incredibly grateful to God for my life and well-being.

But if I’m in a bad place, being grateful is difficult. In those bad places, when my thoughts are sprinkled with anxiety and worry, it’s hard to look past myself. My mind turns toward obsessing with planning, focusing on inflated consequences of what’s wrong, or mapping out how to avoid this, them or that thing I know I’ll cross paths with tomorrow, next week, or over the holidays.

Family meal planning and coupon searching

Family meal planning and coupon searching

I’m pretty proud of our family’s budget and our commitment to talking about it once a month over Saturday morning pancakes. That same budget allows me to map out coupons and deals for grocery shopping and plan dinners for a week at a time (breakfast and lunch, you’re on your own with sandwich and box meal staples). However, the weekly rhythm can get a little stale, and I find myself complaining about the search for another set of coupons that supply another set of recipes for another set of meals. It becomes a “have to” instead of a “get to.”

Mental models from our past can get in the way of expressing gratitude as well. When you’re a kid and your older relatives say “Eat your food, there are starving children in Africa,” you do your best to join the “clean plate club” (I’m almost a card-carrying member). But perhaps this well-intentioned comment leaves a stench of guilt that is difficult to shake over the years, so much so that it seeps deep into our working definition of gratitude. Perhaps in the case of helping a neighbor across the world in the spirit of gratitude, the ends justify the means. But I have a feeling we expect more from ourselves than a tight, packaged end, and we expect from ourselves integrity expressed in the ends as well as the means. I know I do.

In moments of un-gratefulness influenced by either past or present, I have to snap myself out of it. I have to pivot from having an awful attitude to an attitude of gratefulness – a gratefulness motivated not by guilt but by love. Love from God, love from neighbor, love from my closest ones. Love is the root of my gratitude. Without love, I don’t realize that our mounting student loans are little compared to the challenge a single mom and her child faces when homelessness is a better option than facing domestic abuse. Without love, I don’t see the struggling musician in front of me when we go to a free-dinner community event for our apartment complex. Without love, I don’t see the custodian with Asperger’s Syndrome who is having more fun than I am at an evening community gathering at church. Love is the root of my gratitude.

It’s difficult to be grateful when I’m in my head and living in the future—or the past—instead of in the present. But when I look around me at what I have and what we, (my family, the church and larger community) collectively have as a community, I realize there are more reasons than I can count to be grateful.

Now it’s your turn. Is it easy or difficult for you to be grateful?

AllisonheadshotAbout the Author: Allison has served congregations in areas related to curriculum development, adult and young adult faith formation, and helping people learn about their strengths and be able to articulate their own faith stories. Allison currently serves as a facilitator for brightpeak, a division of Thrivent. She holds a MA in Systematic Theology (Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN) and a BA in Religion and Women’s and Gender Studies (Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA). She currently resides in St. Paul, MN with her husband Timothy. She blogs regularly and can be followed there as well as on Twitter

Image Credit: Too many Tabs

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

An Attitude of Gratitude

During the month of November, the COMPASS blog will share reflections on gratitude. We are calling this series theme “An Attitude of Gratitude.” The blog posts will offer reflections on questions about gratitude, including:

  • Do you find it easy or hard to be grateful?
  • Is having an attitude of gratitude important in your faith journey and practice?

To begin our series of reflection, I thought it would be only fair if I shared my own.

One of the roles I end up in often is facilitating and consulting in faith communities. Given the nature of this though, these roles and opportunities are occasional and not entirely consistent.

One of the roles I end up in often is facilitating and consulting in faith communities. Given the nature of this though, these roles and opportunities are occasional and not entirely consistent.

I like to claim that I always live abundantly and gratefully. I strive to give thanks often and to show appreciation and gratitude. I find that life is always richer when I take the time to say thank you to someone, to write a thank you note, or to acknowledge the good work someone has done. That said, it’s not always easy.

What happens in life can sometimes distract from living abundantly. Job and income situations can change. They certainly have a lot over the past couple of years for my wife Allison and me.

We have lived into this. I would be lying though if I said there weren’t times when I was a bit nervous about if we could make ends meet, pay student loans, and still give financially to our faith communities and to those causes and organizations we love to support. These hard times can lead to a feeling that we don’t have enough: that our resources and means are scarce.

When this is the case, I have found it important to take a step back. Yes, looking over our budget and finances helps ease my mind, but more importantly, having a conversation with my wife about our finances usually helps. She reminds me, and I her, that we’re okay. In creating a practice that works for us, we review our finances and budget together over a homemade pancake breakfast on a Saturday morning at least once a month. We call those our “budget breakfasts.”

In moving to Minnesota, it wasn't completely uncommon for my wife and I to wonder, why on earth did we move here, especially during our first Minnesota winter.

In moving to Minnesota, it wasn’t completely uncommon for my wife and I to wonder, why on earth did we move here, especially during our first Minnesota winter.

This taking a step back is not just a financial thing. It’s a faith practice. There is prayer involved, and giving thanks. I give thanks that my wife and I, though our income levels have fluctuated, for the most part have meaningful work. I give thanks for all of the people who have helped us get to this point as friends, mentors, cheerleaders and collaborators. I give thanks for the gentle but important reminders of why we took on student loans and moved from Washington to California and Minnesota. We did so because of a sense that we wanted to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We wanted to be part of God’s work in the world, and felt like God created us and is calling us to be a part of that work in some way.

When I am able to remember that, being grateful is easy. The challenge comes in that moment where I briefly forget the why which has led to this point in life. That why is grounded in the love of God, and the feeling that all I can do about that love and the gospel is live life abundantly and share that love with others.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and for the ability to help others see their gifts, strengths, and passions. I am grateful for meaning and purpose. But most importantly, I am grateful for hope and love.

What are you grateful for? How do you share and express gratitude?

About the author: Timothy Siburg currently serves as a Communications Associate for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and the COMPASS Initiative. He is happily married to his wife Allison, holds a couple MA degrees, and currently calls Minnesota home. You can read more about him and some of the other questions he wrestles with at his own blog.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.