Good morning, Friends!
It’s that time of year again…Wait, what do you mean you’ve read this beginning before? Well, I guess that’s true for some of these blogs because, in fact, I have begun others this way. Our lives as Episcopalians are ordered around a liturgical year, which lends itself to particular activities and traditions at specific times. As we enter Advent in just a couple of weeks, I know that most of us are smack in the midst of…wait for it…
The last resolution we examined (before our brief break to discuss the rebuilding work of the cathedral in Haiti) dealt with our stewardship of our planet – …”this fragile earth, our island home (Eucharistic Prayer C, Book of Common Prayer).” And this is, indeed, a crucial part of our work as good stewards but it’s not all we are called to do! The 77th General Convention approved a resolution designed to encourage Steward Leaders in their roles within our congregations. I’d like to suggest we take it one step further: as all are called to minister through our Baptismal Covenant, this resolution is not just for those who lead the stewardship committees at our churches but it is for all of us!
A088: Set Expectations for Steward Leaders
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention adopt the following expectations for steward leaders in The Episcopal Church:
Proposed Expectations for Steward Leaders in the Episcopal Church
Trusting in God’s Abundance, we will…
Proclaim a Theology of Abundance and Spirituality of Money
• Articulate and share clearly a personal stewardship story as it relates to money, resources, and relationships, and model this practice in community as an example to others;
• Foster a climate that invites others to explore the freedom to be faithful with their money, resources, and relationships;
• Articulate an eternal understanding of financial stewardship to include annual giving, major giving and planned giving;
• Live publicly the holy habits of tithing, daily personal prayer and study, Sabbath time, and weekly corporate worship; and
• Practice the basic principles of personal and corporate financial management leading to a healthy relationship with money as integral to our faith in God.
Teach Biblical and Theological Principles of Stewardship
• Listen to and interpret scripture and tradition with an ear for stewardship themes;
• Speak and preach prophetically, boldly, and regularly about stewardship;
• Engage in individual and corporate study of scripture related the theology of stewardship;
• Raise awareness of the history of stewardship in the life of local congregations and the wider church, including the faithful gifts of those who have gone before; and
• Build up and empower others in these expectations of steward leaders.
Engage and Critique Culture
• Have an informed theological position about social, ecological and economic justice;
• Speak to the vision of a divine economy (oikonomia) and the ways it is in tension with our global economy;
• Articulate the tension between the current consumer culture and following Christ; and
• Gather and empower groups of people to inspire action around common missions and goals.
Embrace the Interconnected Relationships between all Persons and Creation
• Understand our central call to steward the well-being of the entire created order;
• Speak to the impact of our lifestyles on all of God’s Creation;
• Discern and enable the unique gifts of people to build up the Kingdom of God; and
• Utilize diverse approaches to stewardship based on generational and cultural differences
Imagine the difference in our stewardship campaigns if the whole congregation looked at stewardship through these eyes! Imagine the difference in our communities, if we each practiced stewardship of our time, talents and treasures with such an intentional focus!
“What can I do?” you ask. Good question. You can share this with your pastor and the head of your stewardship campaign. You can share this with the head of your Christian Formation program for a discussion in your both your adult and children’s Sunday school classes. You can even share it with the publisher of your church newsletter – with a link to the blog, of course! And then, you can let us know what you and your congregations are doing to make stewardship a way of life and not just an annual campaign!
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council