The Bible tells us that “all things come from God.” And that forms the foundation of my approach to stewardship: the resources at my disposal have come from God to enable me to do the work God calls me to do. Some of that is my profession as a geologist and an educator. But some of is the mission work of the Church. So I give to Christ Church and elsewhere part of the wealth I receive, both in money and in energy.
I have no magic formula for how much I give in time, in energy or in money. My personal status as the dependent of a non-Christian makes simple formulas difficult. Instead, I try to give generously, with some sense of manageable sacrifice.
Christ Church is a priority for my giving to the Episcopal Church because I see the parish as the fundamental working unit of the church … the parish is where the policy of the church, such as the Five Marks of Mission, becomes action; the parish is where we see who we are and where we struggle to become who we wish to be. The diocese and the broader church form a context that enables action at the parish level. But it is parishes and parishioners who act.
What are those actions? What do our gifts support? First and foremost, the life of the parish itself needs support … both in funds to pay bills, including critical personnel, and in energy and time for tasks that support worship and fellowship. I put this first because my professional activities have taught me that a firm foundation is critical to reaching out a helping hand. But then there are the missions of the parish, the outward directed activities. I’m strongly of the mind that the parish sits within a community and needs to give to that community.
The more I read the Bible and listen for Jesus’s commands, the more I hear “feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted.” That is, take care of the world. Both words in the book of Genesis and the words of Jesus clearly portray humans as stewards of God’s creation. God has made us our worlds’ and our brothers’ keeper. We are responsible.
Coming back to stewardship in the concrete and local sense, I give to Christ Church for three reasons: One, to support its existence. Two, to support the broader church. Three, to support the missions of the parish, including the food pantry, the music program as a conveyance of spirit, and outreach activities such as the Fourth of July reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Karen Bemis, Christ Church