“Stewardship is not just about money,” the bishop said. “It is using the gifts that God has given us wisely to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and to advance the Kingdom of God. This means using your talent and time as well as treasure.”
He paused, and people leaned forward to listen.
“We all have different gifts and will use them in different ways,” he continued. “So exactly how are you going to share your time, talent and treasure? How?”
Another pause as people pondered this important challenge. It was certainly a key message to take back to their parishes and to respond to personally.
As stewardship day unfolded at St. John the Evangelist Church, speakers offered many meaningful examples of the bishop's suggested course of action. The theme was sharing in mission.
Stewardship is not just about money
Anglican Church Women (ACW) President Rosemarie Kingston showed pictures and described fund-raising done over the years to assist the Rev'd Canon Paul Jeffries and students at Bishop McAllister College in Uganda. In addition to finding sponsors for orphaned students, Rosemarie has gone to Uganda many times to work side-by-side with Paul and his staff. Sometimes her husband and grandson have accompanied her, giving their time and talent at the school.
The Rev'd Kevin McAllister from the Parish of Marysville and the parish of Minto and Chipman hatched the idea of a golf tournament to raise funds for a library at the school in Uganda. It turned out to be the wrong idea, but he helped as parishioners enthusiastically launched a bowling tournament instead. They urged other parishes to get involved, and people had huge amounts of fun as they worked hard together to exceed their fund-raising goal and to provide a celebratory meal.
Money is always needed when supporting remote ministries under the umbrella of the Council of the North. However, the Rev'd Tom Stradwick and the Rev'd Dana Dean said fellowship can be the real blessing. For example, it didn't take money but rather time and talent to visit the family of each baptized child. Considerable interest was stirred in the room when photos were shown of people from one nursing home who were taken to visit their old but seldom seen friends in another nursing home. A lovely tea party!
Doug Milander and Ann Deveau from Christ Church Cathedral talked about the recent refugee sponsorship project which included several parishes. They said raising thousands of dollars was the easiest part. It was harder to find people willing to spend time helping the Liberian family adjust to Canada, especially when huge health challenges arose during the year. They noted they had met fine people from the other parishes whom they might not otherwise have encountered, and this aspect was an unexpected reward.
A most innovative community ministry was described by the Rev'd Jasmine Chandra from Saint John. Her work to help struggling people in need in the inner city takes a great deal of patience, compassion and persistence. It requires plenty of creativity to overcome the uncertainties of difficult situations faced, but her presentation was much more optimistic than one might have guessed.
The bishop had savvy advice: find people of goodwill in the community and work with them, giving them an opportunity to say thanks to God. He and other speakers tossed out some specific ideas: community gardens near the church, act as chaplain to the local hockey team, build a playground outside the church, advocate for affordable housing, make soup for the hungry, offer an English conversation circle for newcomers, honour your parish volunteers, ask the youth group for ideas, repeat that bowling tournament.
Specific opportunities to share time, talent and treasure abound. How will you respond to the challenge?