Spirituality and Money

It is a great joy to join the Shalem staff as your new Director of Development and Communications! As some of you already know, I took my first class in contemplative prayer from Tilden Edwards forty years ago, after graduating college and preparing to enter seminary. Tilden’s teaching and writing shaped much of my experience in seminary and beyond (and also inspired me to invite my mom to join Shalem, where she studied with Rose Mary Dougherty).

After briefly pastoring a church, I moved into non-profit work as the Executive Director of Bread for the City. My time at Bread was a pivotal period in my life for several reasons. One was discovering anew the deep Biblical truth of the divine Presence in places of suffering and marginalization. A second was realizing that inviting people’s financial support of a worthy cause was a gift to them because their generosity opened their lives to the movement of the Spirit.

I knew, of course, that running a non-profit would require raising money; but initially, I had understood this to be just unfortunate necessity to keeping the lights on. What I soon realized is that when people contributed their money to Bread, they often changed themselves. They became more engaged in the ministry; they took more joy in our successes; they took more meaning from our work. Soon I began to see my role as a fundraiser to be an essential part of my ministry, not just a necessary adjunct.

In our work as contemplatives, we seek stillness in a world filled with noise. We seek stillness amidst the noise within ourselves to hear the whispered voice of the divine. Noise comes in many forms. In western capitalism, one form of noise is the relentless drumbeat of acquisitiveness and greed: the constant message that we do not have enough, but that fulfillment and meaning are right around the corner – perhaps just one purchase away. These voices seek to convince us that we are not sufficient unless we buy the right products, that we are not lovable unless we look a certain way.

Generosity provides a counterpoint to these noisy voices. It is an affirmation that we are beloved children of an abundant God who has graciously provided us with what we need. Generosity allows us to become channels of that same divine grace to the world, seeking to heal brokenness and become agents of wholeness.

As a spiritual discipline, generosity releases us from the clenched fist of fear and scarcity. This is why Henri Nouwen refers to fundraising as a “call to conversion.” Fundraising is an invitation to let go of our insecurities and allow the Spirit to move. Generosity creates quiet space in our busy hearts for the indwelling of the Holy.

As we celebrate Shalem’s 50th year, I invite you each to reflect on the ways in which your giving impacts your spiritual life. Use this anniversary as a chance to invest your heart and resources anew in the exciting work we have before us to nurture contemplative living and leadership. Where is the Spirit leading you in this moment to use your generosity as a tool for growth? How can the sharing of your gifts transform your life and the world?

August 08, 2023 by Charlie Parker 2 Comments
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Mary Jo Marchant
Mary Jo Marchant
6 months ago

I’ve waiting for your “ debut “ sharing! Your gift of sharing with us the importance of giving regardless if of self or a monetary gift is an important reminder. Shalem is gifted by your presence. Namaste .

Tom Adams
6 months ago

Welcome Charlie. I am delighted to lear you have joined Shalem. Like you I have been involved with nonprofits for many years and raised money. I appreciate your perspective on fundraising. It reminds me that everything I do from my heart and with Love’s guidance works much better than my “plans”. Peace, Tom Adams

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Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.

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In 2025, Shalem will be a dynamic and inclusive community, empowered by the Spirit, where seekers engage in transformation of themselves, their communities, and the world through spiritual growth, deep connection, and courageous action.

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