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The educator and author who for 15 years has brought Presbyterians the adventures of Gracie the fish recently revealed to a Between Two Pulpits audience the secret to keeping her underwater tales current: Take an annual trip to the local aquarium.
What happens when we rethink our paradigms of stewardship?
Do we give out of obedience, or out of abundance?
Do we tithe out of obligation, or do we share out of gratitude?
These were just a few of questions that Dr. Deborah Rexrode, associate for stewardship for the Presbytery of the James, posed to her workshop attendees in the session that she led entitled “Giving as a Spiritual Discipline” at the 2021 Stewardship Kaleidoscope conference Sept. 14.
One result of the pandemic is that members of organizations — churches included — are reimagining their common life together as well as their giving practices.
Over the past year amid a pandemic, protests and politics, I often heard many pastors, elders and mid council staff say that they are having a particularly hard time making ends meet. People aren’t giving the way they used to give. These churches and presbyteries are struggling to do more with less, and it’s the same way at the place where I currently serve, the Presbyterian Mission Agency — which has had a 40% reduction of our workforce over the past 10 years. In the end, the need is becoming greater and greater.
The 36-page Annual Report of the Presbyterian Mission Agency has been published online and can be seen here. The theme for this year’s report is “A year unlike all others … and we responded.”
When I was a child growing up in the United Methodist Church, I remember that my parents once got a little cardboard folder to put quarters in. Although I don’t remember whether you were supposed to put the quarters in every day or every week — or even what the project was for — it really made an impression on me that kids could be a part of giving.
I am not usually a fan of a pastor or someone in my position using themselves as a good example. If pastors tell a story from their lives in a sermon, I think it should be a story about how they learned something about their faith because of a failing or a shortcoming, or a story about something funny that happened to them. I also think pastors should never use their children as examples, especially if the child is in worship. The last thing preachers’ kids need is to have more attention drawn to them.
Maria Shupe thought the day when she would be able to pay off Highlands Presbyterian Camp & Retreat Center’s mortgage “might never come.” Before she arrived as executive director, the camp near Boulder, Colorado, had borrowed millions of dollars to build a lodge and retreat center.
“Many hands make light work.” “Teamwork makes the dream work.” “If we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.”
There are lots of ways to say it — but working together really does make bigger and better things possible. And, lots of times, working together makes it more fun, too. In fact, there are times made better just by our ability to be together, to be with one another.
If a sacrament may be defined as a visible sign of an invisible grace, in a similarly sacramental fashion, God’s grace and love are on abundant, if mostly virtual, display through “Links of Love,” a colorful paper chain representing Presbyterian generosity across the denomination, country and globe.