STEWARDSHIP

Then you shall say before the LORD your God: “I have removed the sacred portion from the house, and I have given it to the Levites, the resident aliens, the orphans, and the widows, in accordance with your entire commandment that you commanded me; I have neither transgressed nor forgotten any of your commandments…”

Deuteronomy 26:13



Sacred Portion Season

The culmination of our Sacred Portion Season will be on Sunday, November 1, 2015, with special services at 8:00am and 10:00am.  This is the day set aside where we make our commitments of resources to the up-building of God’s Kingdom through the ministries of this Church.  It is an opportunity to reaffirm our whole community’s deep, collective commitment to our stewardship of God’s creation, God’s people, and God’s Church through worship, fellowship and fun.  Immediately following the 10:00am service we will enjoy St. Martin’s-style hospitality at OctoberBlest.  An array of Oktoberfest food and drink will be served at Bolingbroke so bring the entire family and your friends and help celebrate our beloved congregation’s process of revitalization and transformation through the Spirit of Christ among us.

 

A Stewardship Forum: The Spirit of Stewardship

On Sunday, October 14th, The Reverend Rona Harding led an informal discussion during Coffee Hour on the heart of stewardship.  Here is a taste of what she discussed:

To work out of love, a sense of wonderment of being forgiven and then redeemed to live a life anew is to work out of one’s true self.  For example when I was in Minneapolis, two teenage boys in separate accidents, one on a motorbike, the other on a skateboard were seriously brain injured.  There were no group homes in those days for them.  It would cost a family over $60,000 to care for them per year, then.  So a group of us gathered, not out of duty, but out of love and established a series of group homes with the hospitals helping and the insurance companies giving support.  The homes have multiplied and receive patients from all over this country.  The church still helps oversee the work.

 

Or what about the time in which many of us in the church became concerned for the poor, because all they were doing was calling different churches for a handout.  We organized, by inviting all the clergy in the town along with social services, a hotline in which the poor could have only one number to call.  The churches funded the hotline for emergency expenses, rent, and food.  The hotline oversaw that no one would take advantage of the system.  This too was a labor of love, not duty, caring for the poorest among us.

 

And what about the most undesirable among us, the homeless men?  It became apparent to some of us, that they were sleeping all over the place, in doorways, church gardens and begging at restaurant doors.  Again not out of duty, but out of compassion, we organized the churches and the synagogue to be a board to build a homeless shelter with state money and to furnish it with contributions from the church.  This shelter has expanded annually and is supported by the churches and the synagogue in the area.  It is no long serving only the homeless men but also has town houses that serve homeless women and their families.

 

Finally, A doctor in our congregation felt it was time for the poor who were not eligible for medical care, be given medical treatment, he organized members of our church as well as the County social service and health department, to address this problem.  Out of love and not out of duty, out of knowing we are blessed by the forgiveness of our Lord and redeemed to live a new life, all wanted to be involved.  It worked by getting all the doctors in the county to take on some poor patients for $4 a visit and the churches would raise money by having fundraisers at manor houses or Christmas decoration viewing of houses to raise 50% of the prescription costs.  All of this was done out of a sense of joy and love of getting to serve.

 

(The Rev. Rona Harding graduated from University of St. Andrew's Divinity School in Scotland in 1973, and was ordained in 1977. She has served as Program Director of a Settlement House in Cleveland, campus chaplain at Miami of Ohio and Boston University, Wells Canon at St. Mark's Cathedral, and Rector of the Church of the Ascension, Lexington Park, MD for 21 years. In retirement, Rona has served as the interim Rector at St. Mark's Church, Durango, CO, as well as two small parishes simultaneously in the Diocese of Washington.)

 

A Stewardship Message:

My husband and I moved many times over the years. Each time we found a church, it seemed the new one started a major fund drive as soon as we arrived. It happened so often that we joked about it, but then we began to notice something happening to ourselves as well.

Starting with the amount of our pledge to our former church, we found ourselves raising the income percentage as we saw the needs of our new parish. Our surprise was that, as we gave a larger portion of our income, we still had as much money as we needed ?? even with more children, new houses to buy, and so on. When we reached ten percent, which had once seemed huge, it took very little from our lifestyle. Mysterious.

Finally we realized the truth of common sayings: "Give until it feels good" and "Everything belongs to God." Somehow the adjustments to our lifestyle that were required from time to time didn't make much difference in our enjoyment of life. Neither did it affect the love of family and friends.

Like countless others, we learned that nothing, after all, is really ours. It's God's all along, and he is simply letting us use what we need while we are on earth. In the end, as saints and sages have known through the ages, it??s not acquiring that gives us happiness, it’s sharing.

from Forward Day by Day,
a publication from Forward Movement