Bishop Gregory Hosts Stewardship Commission Meeting
JOHNSTOWN, PA -- The Diocesan Stewardship Commission met on Tuesday, January 22nd at the Chancery offices in Johnstown, PA. The meeting was hosted by His Grace Bishop Gregory and Very Reverend Protopresbyter Father Frank Miloro.
Bishop Gregory opened his first meeting with the Commission by sharing some thoughts on Stewardship; acknowledging that we are all called to be stewards, to care for and to use the gifts that our loving God has entrusted to us. We have been endowed with special talents, and each of us is unique in that respect. We must apply our talents, and not waste them, keeping in mind Judgment Day. In His Grace’s experience, parishes that have adopted Christian Stewardship as a way of life with their members making and fulfilling pledges of their time, talent and treasure, have benefited greatly from doing so.
His Grace also said he had already found and reviewed many documents the Commission had produced to date, that he supports generally the direction that has been taken, and acknowledged that the extended absence of a Diocesan Hierarch has understandably hampered the Commission’s progress since the repose of +Metropolitan Nicholas. He concluded, “Now we should start – your Hierarch is here!”
Father Frederick Watson, Chairman, told His Grace that the Commission’s initial efforts have focused on Stewardship education throughout the Diocese, and that to bear fruit this work will have to continue well beyond the period originally anticipated. Efforts of the first two years were identified and briefly described, including:
- Introduction of the newly established Stewardship Commission and Stewardship as a Way of Life at the 2009 Diocesan Council/Sobor. Stewardship Resource I was distributed in hard copy and on CDs at that time, and is currently available from http://www.acrod.org/ministries/development/Stewardship
- Presentations at the 2010 Deacon/Subdeacon/Reader Retreat and 2011 Diocesan Education Conference.
- Monthly articles on Stewardship as a Way of Life in The Church Messenger.
- Application of Stewardship materials (from Resource I) with Diocesan campers during summer camping sessions.
- Presentations by Commission member Stephanie Betsa during coffee hour at several Diocesan parishes, including the Cathedral parish.
His Grace noted that the laity can and should speak at such presentations, including those on ‘religious’ topics, and the Commission ought to especially encourage women speakers, in that they often have the greater experience and influence of nurturing in the Orthodox home.
Fr. Frederick then introduced and summarized Resource II: Implementing Stewardship in the Parish, which has been developed as a response to Priests who have asked, "How do I implement Stewardship in my parish?” This resource includes a case study of the transition from the use of the ‘Dues System’ to the practice of Orthodox Christian Stewardship at Holy Ghost Orthodox Church in Phoenixville, PA. It was acknowledged by Commission member John Bilanin, a member of the parish, that there will always be doubters and holdouts for ‘the old way,’ but that the transition there has been largely successful.
His Grace noted that going back to the ‘old way’ could be offered as a backup position for parishes hesitant to take the plunge. He also emphasized that not only should pledges of ‘Time and Talent’ be seriously solicited, but that pledges received in these categories must be USED, and not left to gather dust while attention is limited to the pledging and fulfilling gifts of ‘Treasure.’
The transition from individual assessments (‘dues’) to ‘proportional giving’ as the means by which the parishes support our Diocesan ministries was also discussed. His Grace and the Commission membership agree that this transition is consistent in all respects with good Christian Stewardship, but that it should be implemented over a reasonable period of time. When a parish decides to take this step, a lay Stewardship Chairman should be designated; one who is not an officer of the parish, and who could use his/her own talent to preach on ‘Stewardship Sunday.’
As a means of furthering Stewardship education in the Diocese, His Grace suggested that members of the Stewardship Commission should visit a parish in each deanery, with representatives of the other parishes in each deanery encouraged to attend. Additionally, any parish willing to reimburse expenses could request a visit from a representative of the Commission.
The next Diocesan Council/Sobor, to be convened in Johnstown later this year, will feature a Stewardship Workshop, to include segments on Volunteerism – sharing our God-given Time and Talent - and an introduction to Stewardship in the Holy Scriptures with comments on practical applications.
Additional topics discussed included:
- Stewardship and Volunteerism as components of the seminary curriculum.
- Legacy Giving as components of individual and family Estate Planning.
If you have questions or suggestions concerning Stewardship, whether personal, parish or Diocesan, send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the Diocesan Stewardship Commission include Father Frederick Watson (Chairman), Father Basil Aden, Deacon Steve Hall, Trustee John Bilanin and Stephanie Betsa.
The next meeting of the Stewardship Commission is scheduled for May 14th in Johnstown.