Hello Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church,
It is with great humility and excitement that I write this letter to the congregation, staff, and church council. While I have had the chance to meet many of you, I look forward to developing these relationships over next two years. Truly, I am excited to begin my new role as Vicar this fall among you all Shepherd of the Hills.
It has been a long journey that brought me to Sylva. From my roots near Dayton, Ohio, to teaching high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to attending seminary in New York City, my call to ministry has led me to new places and adventures that I could have never imagined. Since finishing my Masters of Sacred Theology in Lutheran studies this past May, I have been searching for a place to begin the next step of my process towards ordination—the internship. It is with great joy that I formally begin my Lutheran internship this fall with both Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Asheville.
Since moving to Western North Carolina, I have been teaching at Warren Wilson College, near Swannanoa. As part of the religious studies faculty, I have been able to teach courses on world religions, interfaith engagement, environmental justice, and Islam. Moreover, I have been able to incorporate service-learning and my passion for interfaith dialogue (especially Muslim-Christian dialogue) into my courses at the college. My time teaching has been incredibly rewarding and I have grown to truly love my time in the classroom.
Outside of these endeavors, I have grown to love Asheville and Western North Carolina. I have developed a taste for vinegar-based barbeque and a newfound love for hiking in the mountains, as well as a deep appreciation for the people who make this place so special. In my spare time, I love watching/playing sports, cooking (especially Cajun food!), traveling locally and abroad, having deep philosophical conversations, and engaging in interfaith work. Additionally, I hope that you all will get the opportunity to meet and know my partner, Samantha Gonzalez-Block, who is an associate pastor at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville.
I am looking forward to beginning this adventure and getting to know each of you. I trust in God’s presence and guidance as we enter into this new endeavor together.
Grace and peace,
Vicar Matt Hoffman
5 Reasons To Consider Tithing
1. Ancient and Biblical Model. Tithing is our most ancient model for giving. It is an example for us. (Genesis 28:10-22, Genesis 14:20, Leviticus 27:30-32, Deuteronomy 14:22-23, Numbers 18:22-29, 2 Corinthians 8:12-15, Matthew 23:23, Matthew 5:23-24 are just a few of the many places in scripture to learn about tithing)
2. Trust in God. Tithing helps us to worship God more fully in our whole life. It cultivates our spiritual growth and trust in God.
3. Financial Wisdom. Tithing brings God’s presence into our financial planning. When we involve God in planning how we will use our money, we are exercising a healthy spiritual discipline and that helps us to combat the destructive influence of materialism and greed that can infect and destroy our lives.
4. Ministry Support. Tithing provides the means to keep a full time pastor at our church as well as supporting staff, office and a well maintained building.
5. Congregational Strength. Tithing strengthens the ministries, outreach and health of our congregation and helping to mold a Christian community of faith love and grace.
Tithing is the practice of pledging and offering 10% of your income. In the Old Testament, tithing was part of the Law and it was considered the minimum amount one would offer to God. In the New Testament, we have been freed from the requirement and obligation to follow this as Law. However, it has been a common practice in the Christian church for centuries to use tithing as a good, concrete example for giving to the church that we are not obligated to obey but given as an example we may choose to adopt.
If you are interested in tithing or in percentage giving, here is a chart that may be helpful. At first, it might sound overwhelming to think of giving what may seem like a huge amount of money especially if we’ve never considered tithing before. This chart breaks down the amounts into weekly portions and gives smaller and larger percentages to start from and grow into in the future.
Weekly Offering 4%
Weekly Offering 6%
Weekly Offering 8%
Weekly Offering 10%
Weekly Offering 12%
Weekly Offering 15%