February 13, 2015

3 Blogs on Stewardship: #1 Year 'Round Stewardship

I have to be honest, I agonized about the apostrophe in the title of this post for much longer than I should have. I share this with you to show just how much I still have to learn about stewardship (particularly stewardship of time). Take this post with a larger-than-usual grain of salt.

As I have been aware since our beginning nearly two-and-a-half years ago, diocesan-funded compensation for a full-time priest at Southside Abbey is up in August. Our leadership council has seen this as an opportunity to step up. Or, as our wonderfully super warden, Kim Smith (who also unicycles and can often be found in caves) put it, “it's time to put on our 'big-girl' panties!”

Before we head to the Changes book for a prayer about the transition to grown-up underwear, I guess some background is in order. At Southside Abbey we make our budget a little bit differently (of course). We begin with a few questions:

  • What do we want to do again? 
  • What is the Holy Spirit already doing around us that we can jump on?
  • What are we being called to do that is new?

As I understanding it, this is a bit different than what some parishes do: wait until the pledges come in and decide what gets funded.

Our process? We asked the leadership council (and others in leadership roles, as all of our council meetings are open) to answer these questions. This led to modules named for different colors as there was less hierarchy than using number or letters. The group then prioritized the modules and the budget is the result. This meant that some things did not make the budget, but they are in our hearts and on our minds in case the Holy Spirit drops some “opportunity” in our lap.

I feel pretty good about this budget. If you would like to see the fruits of that work, we share our budget (along with liturgies and all kinds of other stuff) on our website.

If you get far enough down the 2015 budget, you can see that in order to accomplish the modules that did make it into the budget, we still have to raise about $44,000 or so. Divide that figure by twelve months, and that is around $3,600 per month. While this sum may seem like peanuts to some readers, know that half of Southside Abbey's congregants are homeless and the other half are working-class.

This means we are going to have to venture out into the community. So far, I have not asked for any money for Southside Abbey outside of grant applications. We do not pass a collection plate. So far the Holy Spirit has provided for us to do as much ministry as we can handle. I expect this year to be no different. Year 'round stewardship? It may be that we as a church need year 'round trust. The Holy Spirit will provide, year 'round.

Next entry: 3 Blogs on Stewardship #2 Just What Exactly Are We Funding?

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