When we open an envelope with one of your checks, or learn of your online donation, it stirs strong feelings that we are in these ministries together. Time and again, you’ve shown us that this work—without high position or pay—is worth the choices we make. Your donations help us follow that inner voice, that Divine Call that gives purpose to all who follow it.
The stories of why you give fascinate and humble all of us working in Jubilee Circles. One person who has donated annually since JEM began 20 years ago has told us more than once, “You do so much with so little.” He’s also donated professional and personal skills during those years.
But each year one or more donors can no longer give. Two examples:
- For many years a congregation in the Chicago area sent quarterly checks of $750 for Jubilee in Mexico. But their budget has been decreasing. They sent a letter regretting they would not be able to continue their support for JEM.
- During 2019, JEM also received a final $3000 check from a woman who a few months later died after living with breast cancer for some years. She was a spirited supporter and made a couple sizable donations to empower women in Mexico. She also helped a women’s collective start a cooperative and experienced great joy in doing so.
The loss of such partners in this ministry has made it imperative that in our 20th year JEM launch an effort to find 40 new donors and add $30,000 to the annual budget. We will work at both until they happen, be it this year or next. This donor initiative has two purposes shared across all three Jubilee Circles: (1) Develop new leadership for Jubilee and (2) Add capacity for various ministries. An example of each follows.
Purpose #1: Developing new leadership for Jubilee
Jubilee requires a style of leadership neglected by lots of “leader trainings.” Our training includes increasing one’s understanding of Jubilee spirituality and its role in biblical history and beyond. John Michno began his training in earnest last December. Here’s how he describes not only what he is doing but the style in which he proceeds. The collaborative listening style is especially important in the Jubilee way.
Last month, I worked on a couple projects to benefit Earth and our economy. I had my ideas about how best to configure our small town’s climate action plan. Only by listening and learning from the coaching of NAACP’s Environmental Committee, the Climate Action Campaign, and the City Planning Department, was I able to suggest improvements to the plan that resonated with the entire City Council.
I also designed a plan to plant trees at churches. But a feasible plan didn’t emerge until I listened in a collaborative way to perspectives of many stakeholders: volunteer arborists, Girl Scout leaders, the Church of the Brethren, Quaker facility managers, ministers and congregants. By including everyone who cares about decisions, Jubilee empowers the whole community—not only those at the top of a hierarchy, but all participants.
Purpose #2: Building capacity for Jubilee ministries in this critical decade
Living with Covid-19 is changing what we do. The border with Mexico is closed to JEM travel. Larger gatherings are also impossible. So we’ve pushed on another door, and it opened.
We’re excited to share how Covid-19 has pushed us to develop our capacities for online conferencing. We’ve discovered that we have in our Circles the talent to do more online communication. In addition, we’ve begun to make short videos that tell the stories of Jubilee. We’ll be able to show you these video-stories in a webinar or a planned online conversation. The videos will bring images that heighten the interest in Jubilee and widen understanding among us all. We will show how Circles in Mexico and the U.S. are going forward despite formidable obstacles. Pictures, live voices, face-to-face conversations—all of these will be underway in the next month.
If you are interested in being included in a conversation that includes people in Mexico and the U.S., let us know. NO CHARGES. You just need a computer or similar device.
So, JEM’s 20th year is not what we were planning last Fall. Quite possibly, what’s unfolding is even better. It will take your continuing donations to make it all work. The personnel, relationships, and interest are all in place. Please donate soon. All of creation thanks you.
Together in the struggles and joys of life,
Lee Van Ham and John Michno for everyone in the Jubilee Circles
P.S. We’ve included a sheet with suggestions for giving. One or more of them may give you an idea for how you or a friend can donate to proclaiming Jubilee this year.
P.P.S. If you have never donated to JEM before, please consider this offer. For a donation of $25 or more, we will send you a FREE print copy of either (1) Jubilee Circles: Help Save Life on Our Planet (2017), or (2) The Liberating Birth of Jesus: A Birth Story Able to Reverse Our Planet’s Perils (2019). Go here for more information on the two books. Send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Allow two weeks for delivery.
Suggestions for kinds of giving in the 2020s
Jubilee proclaims a clear way forward in the 2020s—better than back to normal. And your donations make it happen.
Stimulus dollars.—It’s possible that some people in the “Jubilee network” do not really need the income from the stimulus package. Would you consider donating some of that to JEM? The full stimulus amount of $1200 will bring us 24 miles further down the 600-mile road.
IRA dollars.—Similarly, if you are at an age where your IRAs are required to make annual distributions, but you really don’t need all of it, would you consider sending some to JEM?
Cleaning up our CO2 emissions.—Others may be especially concerned about the CO2 your life is adding to the atmosphere. Would you consider using an online calculator (https://cotap.org/carbon-footprint-calculator/) to “measure” how much you put into the atmosphere? Then, let the calculator tell you the cost of removing it, and donate that amount to JEM as a way to clean up after ourselves through our tree planting program. Designate your gift for the tree fund. Planting will begin, Covid-19 permitting, this Fall.
Bi-monthly, quarterly giving.—Special thanks to all of you who donate monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. The regularity of your partnership builds a kind of platform underneath the ministries.
Serendipity support.—Others of you donate as you are prompted. There’s a serendipity to receiving your donations. Be assured, that no amount is too small. Sometimes $5.00 has been a way for someone to say clearly, “We’re with you! Keep this important work going.”
Grants.—From time to time people suggest we apply for grants from special funds or foundations. We have, and we’ve received some. However, we do not have anyone spending the time it takes to apply for grants. So, unless you know someone in a foundation or we feel near 100% alignment between the mission of JEM and the giving of the foundation, we don’t apply.
Personal relationship giving.—JEM is funded primarily through relationships and people who believe in our work. It’s this personal dimension of doing it together that is a major strength of our Jubilee ministries.
In honor and in memory giving.—Some people like to make a donation in honor of someone, or memory of someone.
Congregations.—You may be in a congregation able to donate to JEM from the budget or through a special offering. We are also happy to provide a Zoom presentation or conversation with a group in your congregation in exchange for an offering.