Islington Tribune - by WIEBKE TOEBELMANN Published: 24 October 2008
Dr Andrew Pakula
‘Help yourselves to the collection plate’
WHEN a controversial Islington church minister passed the collection plate round on Sunday the congregation naturally assumed they would be contributing. To their surprise Dr Andrew Pakula, minister of the Newington Green Unitarian Church, asked his worshipers to take money out of the plate rather than put it in.
In fact he had filled it with one-pound-coins and instructed his flock to help themselves.
Dr Pakula, a relative of the late film director Alan All the President’s Men Pakula, told the congregation the money – about £150 – was from his own savings and not from church funds.
He invited all 30 members of the congregation to take no more than £5 and spend it for the “good of the community”.
He said: “I spoke about the role that money plays in our lives and how difficult it is to align our spending with our values. “I asked each person to use it in their own way to help make a more loving world.”
Dr Pakula told how reluctant people were to take the money and that the basket had to circulate three times before it was empty. “Everybody is anxious about money,” he said. “Some of the people were probably told as children: ‘If you ever take money out of the collection basket, God will strike you dead’. But I promised them nothing bad would happen.”
Congregation member Annette Percy said: “I’m looking for a very special way to spend the money.”
Another member, Justin Hoffman, said he bought flowers for his parents.
Dr Pakula is used to creating a stir.
Earlier this year his church became the first in Britain to ban full wedding ceremonies until the law is changed to allow gay couples the same religious rights as heterosexuals.
THIS is one of the most creative things I've heard of a minister doing to make a point. Really fantastic! T. Martinez