October 21, 2020

Stewardship, Parish Finances, and a Pandemic: Our ongoing participation in God’s mission

Every month ECFVP offers five resources on a theme. This month we've asked the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford to choose five resources from Vital Practices to highlight. Please find her choices below. Please share this email with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and this monthly digest.

The Fall season is traditionally when congregations launch their financial stewardship campaigns and start planning for the next fiscal year. It is also a time when we get ready to return from summer vacations to our familiar routines of Homecoming services and other church’s life-giving activities.

This season, our church life may be and feel different, but our participation in God’s mission continues. I will dare say the needs of the world may be greater as we encounter the reality and impact of an expected, and uninvited guest, COVID-19. Not to mention the impact of the social pandemics of racism, white supremacy, anti-black bias and tense political climate. God’s church needs resources to continue sharing God’s love to the world!

Stewardship, financial planning, fundraising, and any money related conversations are usually some of the more complex topics to address in a church setting, add to that hosting such conversations during a pandemic! This global health crisis has been given us new opportunities to reimagine church. The resources below are excellent tools to assist us as we plan for this stewardship season and navigate the challenges of this unprecedented time.

Talking about money can be intimidating and, in some circumstances, challenging! In this article, Dick Kurth does a marvelous job using storytelling as he walks us through a process of a community brave enough to look from within at how they communicate about money and made amends! I see this article as an invitation to parishes to be authentic and attentive to their contexts while discerning adequate stewardship processes and nurturing relationships.

When you combined the musings of this author with her meditations of a Brene Brown’s Ted Talk you get this fabulous article about what the author calls wholehearted stewardship! Erin Weber-Johnson speaks of Stewardship from a spiritual and thoughtful approach. I think this article is food for the soul.

Laurel Johnston presents a powerful case! Leaders should be visible givers! As a Latina, I commend this article and appreciate the time taken to interview congregations from diverse contexts. Many of our Latino communities understand deeply the connection between spirituality and stewardship while others struggle deeply with understanding the importance of collaborating financially to support God’s mission. This article shares practical points to be considered when planning a campaign.

I once heard a clergyperson preach to her congregation “Would you like to know your priorities? Look at your checkbooks!” The way in which a congregation chooses to spend its resources is an indicator of their understanding of their participation in God’s mission. Finances impact present and future leadership. Jerry Keucher and Jim Murphy present a detailed webinar about the basic aspects of healthy parish finances. I particularly like how they cover such an ample topic in a thoughtful manner, from raising resources for ministry, to reporting, to building a healthy budget. I commend this webinar and the PowerPoint document as a point of reference.

Kyle Oliver’s article about online giving is timeless! This article is so helpful during this time of global health crisis as many continue to experience limitations in the way we can gather for worship. My family has been pledging online since 2014. Kyle presents various models. Check it out!