What is Stewardship?
Stewardship is more than the giving of money in order to meet a church’s budget for the year. Stewardship is a theological statement of belief. It is a way of life based on a belief that we are all the beloved children of God. Therefore, we joyfully give of our time, talent, and treasure in order to participate in God’s Kingdom being lived here and now.
A practice of pledging models the values of our faith and demonstrates our commitment to deepening our relationship with God through active support of God’s ministry through the church. It provides an opportunity to discipline ourselves and educate our children. As a spiritual exercise, pledging allows us to reflect on the gifts God has given so that we all may use those gifts for the purpose of ministry, mission, faith formation, Christian fellowship, and worship of the church.
Dear First Presbyterian Church Family,
“The most unholy hour of the entire week is that hour before leaving for church.” I have heard my mother utter those words far too many times to count. And she did so for good reason. As one of three boys, myself – and as the father of three boys – I have a decent understanding of the wailing, crying, and gnashing of teeth that goes into dressing, grooming, and feeding a young family, all while desperately trying to make it to church on time on Sunday morning. But while it’s never easy to perform this Herculean task, there was one year that Cole Milner made this hour particularly trying.
During our second year in New Orleans, Cole, a bright and curious young first-grader, had begun learning about coins in his class at school, a lesson that conveniently coincided with our church’s annual stewardship campaign. So, as not to let this fruitful moment of teaching pass us, Carrie and I decided it might be “fun” to speak with Cole about giving some of his own money to his church each Sunday. After some pondering and prudent accounting of the contents of his piggy bank, Cole decided that he would give one quarter each week. And so, it began. Each week, as Carrie chaotically ushered the children out to the car, Cole would announce, “BUT I NEED MY QUARTER!” At first, it wasn’t a problem: Cole generally had dug a coin from his bank and laid it on his nightstand the night before, but after several weeks, the quarters were harder and harder to come by. However, each week, when a quarter was recovered, the joy that lit Cole’s face was electric. He found deep pleasure in being able to place his coin in the offering basket in Sunday school or in the offering plate in church. There was unbridled delight at being able to contribute to something bigger than himself. There was joy in his giving.
Without fully intending to, Carrie and I had sown seeds of excitement; we had rooted seeds of faith; we had planted seeds of hope in our young child. Seeds that would need nourishment and tending. Seeds that would need cultivation and support. Seeds that, with proper nurturing, can and will lead to a life led in service to others and in commitment to the church.
Seeds of hope are planted everywhere. Seeds of hope have fallen to the ground without our knowing. Seeds of hope have taken root in the soft soil and weathered the dry and rough terrain. Seeds of hope that, with nourishment and tending, with cultivation and support, with proper nurturing can and will lead to a life led in service to others and in commitment to the church.
And in this year, in the season of stewardship of 2020 – a year that has rocked each and every one of us to our core – we sow seeds. We sow seeds because we know that there is much good that exists, even in much uncertainty. We sow seeds because we believe that there is love, even when our hearts are breaking. We sow seeds because there is hope that rises above the hopelessness, even when our faith feels barren. We sow seeds through our generous gifts: gifts from grateful and gracious hearts; gifts given with poise; gifts given with fierce determination. We give our gifts because we know that there is much to look forward to, that there are many to serve, that there is much work to be done, and that there is a kingdom to build and a calling to heed, and praise God for that!
As you prayerfully consider your pledge this year, consider the seeds that have been sown in the fertile and faithful soil of First Presbyterian Church in years past. Seeds have been sown to proffer sustenance to the hungry and loving-care for the hurting. Seeds have been sown that have fostered inclusion and genuine welcome to those searching for a place to call “home.” Seeds have been sown that have kindled the fire of faith and bolstered a life-giving hope for generations of would-be-disciples. Seeds have been sown that have made music soar, that have let love flourish, and that have driven justice forward. Seeds have been sown that have borne life-giving fruit in this world filled with God’s loving possibilities.
By the steadfast and boundless generosity of our God, the seeds of hope have been planted in this place, in our time, even here among our beloved First Presbyterian Church family. And together, with fervent prayers, the sharing of our time, and the joyful and generous giving of our God-given treasure to the disposal of God’s kingdom, we will see these fruits of the Spirit spring forth once again in abundance. And when they do, we just might begin to appreciate more fully – perhaps even take to heart – what Jesus once said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Indeed, it is…
In hope and faith,
Barrett C. Milner
All are invited to discern how God calls you to serve, through the giving of your time, talents and treasures. Below are copies of this year’s stewardship materials for your consideration. Contact Frances Saralvarez at email@example.com with any questions you may have and to let her know your interest in making a pledge.
If you would like to fill out your 2020 pledge card online, please click here!