Designate, Review and Develop
Consistent with its mission statement, the Stewardship Commission of the Diocese presented a proposal to the XXII Sobor/Council in Johnstown October of last year. The mission statement says: Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a Christ-centered lifestyle, which acknowledges accountability, reverence, and responsibility before God. Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a call to all of the faithful to share willingly and cheerfully the gifts that God has bestowed on them including sharing these gifts for God’s work in His Church.
That unanimously approved Stewardship Commission proposal’s final three “resolves” state:
4. That the parish council of every parish in the Diocese designate a local stewardship coordinator to work with the Diocesan Stewardship Commission and to lead the stewardship planning, education, and programs of the parish; and, further, that it forward the name of this coordinator to the Diocesan Stewardship Commission by the beginning of Great Lent 2014.
5. That the parish council of every parish in the Diocese review the stewardship practices of its parish according to the principles that the Diocesan Stewardship Commission has laid out in its resources; and, further, that it report its findings to the Diocesan Stewardship Commission by the beginning of the Church Year 2014.
6. That the parish council of every parish in the Diocese develop a plan for the growth of the stewardship of time, talent, and treasure in its parish using the guidance and materials of the Diocesan stewardship commission; and, further, that it report its plan to the Diocesan Stewardship Commission by the beginning of the Church Year 2014.
As the result of giving thanks to God for the abundance of His blessings, of affirming the many Spiritual gifts we have received, and committing ourselves to Biblically-based principles of stewardship including financial giving, we must have a plan to follow through. The plan involves three steps.
The first step is to designate. The Stewardship Commission of the Diocese has studied the best of stewardship practices. These best practices show us that one person should be designated as the person with whom the Stewardship Commission should be in contact. This person would be one who has the special spiritual gift to understand and promote stewardship practices in the parish. That person may be male or female, on the Parish Council or not, young or old. It does not matter. What does matter is that person be committed to the stewardship of time, talent and treasure. What also matters is that this person be committed to learning or themselves contributing to the ways that he or she can enable parishioners to grow in their understanding and practice of stewardship.
Why is designating one person as point, or contact person important? First of all, it is a practical thing. It is so much easier to be in contact with one person than several as the stewardship ministry of a parish develops. Questions, comments and suggestions from all parishioners can be directed to that one contact person, and he or she can then communicate with the Stewardship Commission. Secondly, having an identified contact person allows us to know the status of the parish in regard to its fulfilling the commitment to establishing good stewardship practices there. Reminder: the plan is to have the name of the stewardship contact person be given to the Stewardship Commission by the beginning of Great Lent 2014. That date is March 3, 2014.
Once a contact person is designated who takes on the stewardship responsibilities for the parish, the next step is to review the current stewardship practices of the parish. The Diocesan Stewardship Commission can be of great help in this regard. The Commission has (with the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Gregory) developed a survey that can assist with the review of those practices. That survey should be completed by the designated person with the parish council, or even by the parish priest with the parish council. Keep in mind, though, that this entire process is designed to be done by someone other than the priest, although always in consultation with him. The survey, when made available to the designated person, may be either on-line or in hard copy form. In any case, it is not the way the review is done that is important; it is the results of the review that are.
The results of this review of current stewardship practices in the parish (either through the use of the survey, or by any other independent written means) should be in the hands of the Stewardship Commission by the beginning of the New Church Year, September 1/14, 2013.
While in the process of review of current stewardship practices in the parish, the parish council is to develop a plan for the growth of the stewardship of time, talent and treasure in its parish. While the review of current practices and the development of a plan seem to be two different things, they can be easily combined. The Stewardship Commission offers its help to individual parishes, deaneries or other groups who may be interested in receiving assistance throughout this whole process. The plan from each parish is asked to be in the hands of the Commission by September 1/14, 2014. It need not be a complete, finished, detailed plan, but it should be something of a start that can be modified in the future as necessary.
Parish councils are urged to study thoroughly and make use of the materials already produced by the Stewardship Commission and made available to all parishes through the Diocesan website or as hard copies of the materials that were distributed at the Sobor. The Commission is ready to answer requests to serve as individual counsel to parish councils or parish groups, to be speakers at stewardship-centered events, or to provide any kind of resource that may be needed by the parish councils as they work toward new stewardship goals. Already, several such contacts with the Commission have been made and events will be taking place both at the parish and deanery level.
These as well, are our words: designate, review and develop. They are the words of the practical action of our mutually agreed-upon stewardship plan: designate (a stewardship contact person by March 3, 2014); review (current stewardship practices in the parish); and develop (a plan of action for the growth of the stewardship of time, talent and treasure in the parish).
May God grant us the gift of the Holy Spirit to enable us to carry out that which we have committed ourselves to do!