Hello. My name is Susan Norris. As a church council member and a member of our Stewardship Committee, I would like to share some information with you about Calvary’s upcoming participation in a stewardship program that focuses on expressing gratitude as an essential practice of our daily lives.
This year, Calvary, along with 19 other churches across our Synod, will be participating in an inspiring approach to stewardship called Stewardship for All Seasons. It is a program that will encourage us to consider how stewardship is much more than money and budgets. It is about how all that we receive and all that we give, both in our church and in our community, reflects our relationship with God.
Stewardship for All Seasons, led by Rev. Mike Ward and endorsed by the North Carolina Synod, is a flexible, biblically-based and proven stewardship program that has helped dozens of churches and church-related institutions nationwide to develop a joyful, generous, and energetic perspective on stewardship. Calvary applied for and received a grant from the Synod, along with a gift from our Memorial Fund, to cover the cost of the program.
Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” is the foundation of Stewardship for All Seasons. One specific belief that this program illustrates is that “People most often give out of a profound sense of gratitude.” Reflecting on this Bible verse and the idea that gratitude and giving go hand and hand lead me to think about my own approach to giving.
My husband Gary and I have been members of Calvary for approximately 40 years, and we have always submitted a pledge on Consecration Sunday. We think it is important to complete a pledge because just as we have to know how much income we have coming in before we create our household budget, we believe that church needs a good sense of how much income they can expect to meet the proposed ministry plan.
To be honest, though, how we have completed our pledge each year has not involved much reflection on gratitude or discussion about how our giving relates to our relationship with God. Often we would briefly discuss a proposed amount in passing the night before Consecration Sunday. Basically, in the same manner that we address household bills that need to be paid.
One night after dinner a few weeks ago, I shared some of the basic concepts of Stewardship for All Seasons with Gary, and asked him to complete a brief reflection activity with me. We began by reading the First Article of Luther’s Small Catechism with its explanation that all that we have is from God. Then with pad and pen in hand, we brainstormed on the question: What impact has Calvary made on our lives? In just 15-20 minutes, we were able to list 26 ways that we feel that our faith has been nurtured at Calvary.
We were amazed by the length of our list, and it was truly a moving experience that helped us to read Matthew 6:21 with a greater understanding as it applies to our lives. Consequently, we are committed to re-evaluate our giving before Consecration Sunday this year.
In the weeks and months ahead, we will be sharing more information with you about stewardship and Calvary’s participation in this program. Please feel free to share any questions you may have with me or any member of our Stewardship Committee or our Church Council. In the meantime, I would like to invite you to do your own brainstorming on the question: How has Calvary impacted my life and the life of my family? I hope that like Gary and me, you will experience a renewed sense of gratitude for the many blessings we experience on a daily basis as members of Calvary Lutheran Church.