November 4, 2016

Tree of Life Stewardship Campaign

For years I have used Vestry Papers and TENS resources at my church (St. Mark’s Episcopal in Boonsboro, Maryland) sharing them with vestry members. This year we re-focused our stewardship letter and presentation; I am sharing our letter and Tree of Life illustration* with you to show what a smaller church can accomplish.

Our 2016 message arises from language found in the Bible: planting, growth, production of fruit, and feeding. Here’s some of our language and imagery, linking these practices, both ancient and continuing, with our common life at St. Mark’s:

  • Plant: We begin with the seeds: Worship and prayer, baptism, evangelism, welcoming, pastoral care
  • And the seeds soon grow: Education, communications, upkeep of buildings and grounds
  • And produce fruit: Fellowship, belonging, new members, confirmation, marriages
  • To feed people who are hungry in body and spirit: Micah’s backpack, Seafarers Christmas boxes, welcoming community groups to our campus, work camp, outreach.
  • And our roots are deep: Tradition, reconciliation…
  • Settled into the ground of our being: Jesus Christ
  • Watered by the vows of the Baptismal Covenant – to continue in worship, repent and return, respect the dignity of others.
  • Jesus said, “I am the vine, You are the branches…bear much fruit.”
  • All of this depends on your gifts, regular income that provides the rector and staff; that lights, heats, and cools our buildings, that provides materials for worship, for service, for outreach.

Instead of blessing the pledge cards once they were sent back, I blessed the pledge letters and gave them out in the services (others were sent by first class mail, using commemorative stamps). This way we placed emphasis on the process of stewardship, not the results.

Our children's sermon used a slice of a tree trunk to teach about the rings showing abundant years and lean years.

*The illustration was made by member Betsy DeVore, whose husband is an Episcopal Deacon. Betsy is the online and print creator for the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. I wrote the Tree poem with some editing help from our senior warden, Phillip Post.

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