A message given by Sub-deacon Randy Hay and Board Member Ryan LaFerney
Stewardship is an important part of living a Christian life. It includes participating fully in the sacramental life of our parish, caring for the Church and our fellow parishioners, and it means supporting the life of the Church in every way we can with our finances, time, talents and prayer.
As you know from running your own household or business, it is very important to have some idea of what you can afford to spend in any given year. Our parish council tries its best to manage the financial affairs of the Church prudently and responsibly. To do so, we need to budget and to project what we expect to receive in revenues for our parish each year. Stewardship is by far our largest and most reliable source of revenue. Please help your parish council fulfill its duty and keep our church financially healthy by submitting your pledge (your promise) at the beginning of each year’s pledge drive. A pledge is simply a promise you make to God on behalf of the church of what you plan to give within a given year in order to help fuel the mission of the church. And to continue this mission, it takes money.
Your pledge form can be completed in a matter of seconds (although we would encourage prayerfully reviewing your finances in order to complete it).
If your personal circumstances change during the year, and you cannot fulfill your pledge amount, no one will come knocking on your door demanding money, although you may receive a reminder letter. Similarly, Stewards are always welcome to increase their pledges, or to contribute more than they pledged. Your pledge is simply evidence of your best intention for the year and having your pledge at the beginning of year during our pledge drive is an enormous help to the Board. Please just try to honor your pledge to the best of your abilities but (as noted) if your circumstances change, there is no reason to feel guilty. God sees your good intentions.
From a practical point of view: Your pledge helps fuel the mission of the church to proclaim the gospel. This plays out in a myriad of ways:
First, your pledge goes towards Clergy compensation. Let’s look at two sources of scripture which highlights the importance of clergy compensation.
1 Corinthians 9:11-14 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?… (13) Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? (14) In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
Sirach 7:31-33 Fear the Lord and glorify the priest; And give him his portion, even as it is commanded you; The first fruits, and the trespass offering, and the gift of the shoulders, And the sacrifice of sanctification, and the first fruits of holy things. (32) Also, to the poor man stretch out your hand, That your blessing may be perfected. (33) A gift has grace in the sight of every man living.
We want to adequately compensate the priests (which we do not yet do), and the ability to do so depends on your pledge. As of right now, we are barely able to pay our clergy and they have to rely on other means of income. In the near future, we would like to provide more compensation for our clergy. This is important because this allows them to focus on their pastoral calling. The church benefits by adequately compensating our clergy so the clergy in turn can serve frequent liturgies/sacraments, teach classes, visit the sick, orphans, widows, the imprisoned, and visit with us and give us spiritual council.
Second, pledges also help pay for the utilities, insurance, repairs and maintenance, and other costs a beautiful old church like ours entails. Beauty is an integral aspect to Orthodox worship – as it reflects the Glory of God – and we need to respect the house of God in terms of making sure it is properly adorned and properly taken care of. Your pledge helps assist with this. If we have a beautiful, functioning church, we will attract many seekers and our own souls will be enriched. Most of the money the church receives goes towards the upkeep of the building.
It isn’t hard to see how your financial pledges benefits not only our members but our visitors. For example, Emanuella visited our church for a short time before she sadly and quite unexpectedly passed away. Our members’ gifts of money, time and talent gave her many things: a clean, heated, church with beautiful services, and a nice parish hall with lunch and fellowship afterward. The church is a refuge of comfort and peace for many of our visitors and we need to keep it this way.
Third, you may or may not also know that we also help support the Metochion, with insurance costs, repairs, and maintenance so that the nuns can continue their ministry and prayer life. We also practice charity through our Christmas Families Program where we are able to help many needy people with gifts during the Christmas Season.
If it seems like Stewardship is all about money, then we’ve done a poor job of communicating the message. Money is an integral component of Stewardship, but it is just one component. Ultimately, the focus really shouldn’t be on money: it should be on glorifying God. Stewardship is about getting engaged in doing Christ’s work and in understanding that our Church’s only business is the business of doing Christ’s work for the purpose of working toward our personal salvation, and the salvation of the world. It takes money to do the things we have to do – for example to educate our community, to maintain a place of worship that appropriately reflects the Glory of God, to help the poor, to pay our clergy – but if we are truly engaged as Stewards, our finances will work itself out because Stewards will see to it that the Church has what it needs to fulfill its mission.
So please consider your pledge and how you can actively participate in the life of the Church.
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