Leader Mary Herman asked the 150 or so congregants at the Washington Ethical Society on 16th Street NW to check their programs. Ten of them would find a randomly inserted blue card. She asked those 10 to stand up.
“I was wondering what we were being volunteered for,” said Lisa Silverberg, a Silver Spring nonprofit consultant who only recently began attending services at the society, a church-like organization centered on humanism and secular ethics instead of belief in God.
Instead, each blue card was a golden ticket of sorts. There was a collective gasp of surprise when Silverberg and nine others were each given an envelope containing a $100 bill.
The only catch? They had to give it away.
The windfall at services last month was a Thanksgiving experiment in generosity. Herman gave the winners a month to pass the money along in some way that would “make a difference in a person’s life.”
What a great way to encourage the Humanist spirit of generosity, and what a timely example of the vale of Humanist communities: it was the leadership of Mary Herman, Leader of the Washington Ethical Society, and their budget, which made this heartwarming story possible. The story shows precisely how local values-based communities can galvanize individuals to live-out their values and get more involved in their community – and the positive press they received demonstrates benefits to all non-theists when they do so.