October 9, 2014

Transformation: Part of the Process

At the beginning of a campaign process I often hear, “If we could just raise this amount of money, we could get to doing real ministry. Imagine the transformation!”

During the capital campaign or special appeal, volunteers often reshape their image of fundraising and discover that transformation is in the process itself---and not something made possible only at the end of their campaign.

ECF senior program director Terri Mathes offers an example of this from her work with St. James’ Cathedral in Chicago. She worked with parishioner Laura Jenkins, who played a pivotal role in the planning and execution of the congregations special appeal designed to include both a special appeal for the Diocese of Chicago and to bolster their current annual giving.

In the midst of the campaign, Laura offered this reflection:

“I have to say that this whole experience has been transformative.

“The ‘work’ that we've been doing in the last two months has generated so many wonderful opportunities to talk with people who also love St. James - and we haven't even begun the personal calls and visits!

“I've gotten to know people I didn't know before, as well as gotten to deepen the relationships I have with people I do know. And, it's helped others to have the same experience. We know there's a longing in our congregation for a deeper sense of community and belonging, and people who've participated on our small group conversations have remarked on how much they've enjoyed the gatherings. (Each of the three extended beyond the official ending time!)”

In addition to deepening her relationship to others and a sense of community, Laura has also begun to articulate her views on stewardship differently and look for ways to empower volunteers to live into their gifts:

“I'm a student by nature, so I had to get some books and study up on stewardship. What I've learned has changed my personal idea of what stewardship is, and it's helping me to talk about it with other people. And these conversations are the beginning, I believe, of what can become a true culture of stewardship. I certainly am thinking more in terms of gratitude than obligation. I also see the perfect dovetailing of financial giving with my passion at St. James: helping others find where they are called to share their time and talents. I'm finding a yearning in others to help nourish year-round stewardship as the way we live our faith.”

Have you experienced a transformation in your view on stewardship? What impact has that had on your parish community and/or relationships? What can the Church learn from experiences like Laura’s?