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Gifts & Financial Support
Stewardship is not simply asking for pledges at the end of the year to meet the needs of the church’s budget for the following year. Stewardship is a theological statement — a way of life. And it comes from believing that we are beloved children of God.
Knowledge of who gives, and how much they give, in a congregation is essential to successful stewardship. This was the message delivered last week by pastors Louise Westfall and Justin Spurlock at the Stewardship Kaleidoscope session titled “You Ask for It: Conversations on the Giving Spectrum.”
Many church leaders fear that emphasizing planned giving can damage the annual stewardship effort or an ongoing capital campaign.
But in fact, the opposite is true, says Karl Mattison, Vice President of Planned Giving Resources for the Presbyterian Foundation.
In his session titled “Endowments 101” at the Stewardship Kaleidoscope gathering in San Diego last week, Stephen Keizer, Vice President of Ministry Relations at the Presbyterian Foundation, taught key concepts around church endowments including their inception, management and eventual use.
Leaders of small churches sometimes spend so much time looking back at how things used to be that they don’t appreciate the blessings and assets their church still has, says Olanda Carr Jr., Senior Ministry Relations Officer for the Presbyterian Foundation.
A new study by the Lake Institute was recently released that delves into how American congregations “receive, manage and spend” financial resources.
Attendees at the annual Stewardship Kaleidoscope conference received a summary of these findings during the gathering’s opening plenary session, guided by Melissa Spas, Managing Director of Education and Engagement for the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving.
Realizing that its closure was a real possibility, First Presbyterian Church in Winneconne, Wisconsin, called the Rev. Rose McCurdy as pastor to help the congregation find new life. One of its strengths was generosity toward local mission, but McCurdy sensed the congregation needed to extend its involvement beyond its community. When McCurdy picked up the Presbyterian Giving Catalog, she saw a resource that could help her struggling congregation in its quest for renewal. She saw the catalog as an avenue for increased mission participation, and the congregation’s mission committee agreed with her.
In the minds of many Presbyterians, the concept of stewardship is forever linked to the church’s fall fundraising campaign to support the budget. This multi-week drive culminates in “Stewardship Sunday,” during which pledge cards are brought forward and prayers are offered that the money represented there will be enough. This process makes some people so uncomfortable that they confess to skipping church, claiming, “I don’t want to listen to talk about money for an entire month.”
For nearly 15 years, a certificate has hung on a sparsely occupied bulletin board on the back wall in the sanctuary of Laguna United Presbyterian Church in Casa Blanca, New Mexico. For the only Native American congregation in Santa Fe Presbytery, this now-faded certificate represented much more than a tradition or achievement. Every time they walked by it, it was a reminder of their congregation’s commitment to participate in the life of the church — a church that spans beyond their Casa Blanca community.
I was always proud to be a preacher’s kid. Growing up in Arkansas and Texas, it surprised many people when I told them my mother was the preacher, not my father. These types of exchanges certainly came with many puzzled looks.