For Latino/Hispanic congregations in the Episcopal Church in the United States, the topic of financial literacy has not commanded much attention. As a matter of fact, many Episcopalians are curious about what Latino/Hispanic congregations are doing to keep their congregations growing and vibrant. As the word sustainability resurfaces time and again in Latino/Hispanic ministries, I think we face three primary challenges.
First, most of our leaders and parishioners come from other denominations or religious traditions and do not fully comprehend how the Episcopal Church administers its finances. Some call the offering a limosna (hand-out) and some are burnt out from being forced to tithe. Since the Episcopal Church welcomes all, this subject is oftentimes put on the backburner.
Second, most of our congregations are missions (in other words, the dioceses help them financially) and the dioceses or bishops hope they will eventually become self-sustaining. Some missions have been open for decades and, although they grow in numbers, they remain the same financially. Major reasons for this are problems specific to the Latino/Hispanic population: job security, immigration status, and mobility.
Third, to be sustainable, we must have financial literacy and stewardship education. In Latino/Hispanic ministries, these two go hand in hand. For people to give more financially, they must learn the basics of finances as well as how their generosity helps their church.
To help start the conversation, we have created the video series: “The Money Minute”. These videos talk about the best practices many churches use to educate their congregations on stewardship or financial generosity. They are one-minute lessons that include one best practice, suggestions on how to use it, and a Bible verse.
Here are six to get you started:
Money Minute 1 – A focus on Rectors/leaders being visible givers
Money Minute 2 – A focus on preaching/teaching stewardship all year long
Money Minute 3 – A focus on lay testimonials
Money Minute 4 – A focus on the use of pledge cards and envelopes all year long
Money Minute 5 – A focus on transparency
Money Minute 6 – A focus on gratitude for all gifts
These videos can be used as a springboard for powerful conversations on stewardship, generosity, and financial literacy. The best practices on the videos are not the only ones that can be used; instead, they are strategies that have been used and proven to yield positive results.
Sandra Montes is the Episcopal Church Foundation's Spanish Language Resource Consultant. Born in Perú, Sandra grew up in Guatemala and settled in Texas as soon as she could. Her passions are God, family (especially her son), music, education, and writing. She has been developing original bilingual resources for her church, school, and others for years. Sandra has been volunteering and working in the Episcopal Church since she was welcomed into Her in 1986. She serves as musician, translator, speaker, consultant, and writer. She is a full-time teacher and doctoral student.
(These ECF videos are part of a series designed to help clergy and lay leaders address the economic challenges of congregational ministry in the 21st century and is made possible through a grant from Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative.)
- Treat the Disease, Not the Symptom by Jerry Keucher, Vestry Papers, March 2016
- Pledging: Should Clergy Know? by Erin Weber-Johnson, Vestry Papers, May 2014
- Model Intentional Giving by Laurel Johnston, Vestry Papers, September 2010
- Money – What’s It to You? an ECF webinar led by Donald Romanik and Demi Prentiss, April 2016