Leaving our Footprints in Mission and Stewardship

Leaving our Footprints in Mission and Stewardship

I spent the last five days of 2019 in a very special place: Navajoland in New Mexico. I was tagging along with my spouse’s visit to Navajo Episcopal congregations. My little contribution was very humbling and exciting. I preached at one of the five congregations we visited at the border of Farmington and the Navajo reservation on the last Sunday of the past year. The day before the first Sunday after Christmas and the last Sunday of the year, we visited  the Aztec Ruins National Monument, where I was inspired to contemplate the past year with “one hand” reaching out to the future in sacred wondering and musing. “Leave your footprint” was the phrase that struck me most upon learning the story of the people, the Pueblo Indians or Ancestral Puebloans, before they built these complex structures 900 years ago. This place continues to inspire and be used today by the present Puebloans even though what left is simply “ruins” from the past.

As I look towards the year 2020, I am wondering what footprints we, as church, are going to leave behind for the future generations (of course, I also wondered what I have left behind in 2019). It is hard to foresee how the people in the future would see or interpret the “footprints” we unknowingly or consciously make today. But the story of the Ancient Puebloans gave me a different sense of responsibility, even honor, to think that our footprints will impact those who will find them, will be affected by our actions today and the stories we tell. With this image of footprints from the past to the future in my heart and mind, with a sense of a sacred commitment grounded in our baptismal vow, I will continue to plan with some of our leaders in the Synod.

It’s definitely not the usual new year’s resolution list, but let me share with you some important things that the Witness and Stewardship Discipling Teams are working on, in partnership with the churchwide’s Congregational Vitality and Stewardship Teams for 2020 for the synod.

Continuing Congregational Vitality as one of our priorities, the Witness Discipling Team is bringing together a Working Team for Synod Vitality Strategy, which aims to provide tools and accompaniment to assist congregations discerning or planning for vitality and renewal in their mission and ministry. Our working name for this tool and process is ACTS Vitality Strategy and Cohorts (ACTS stands for Adapting, Connecting/Collaborating, Transforming and Sustaining – and of course also pertaining to the Acts of the first Apostles). Another Congregational Vitality tool is called Anchor Church, where close relationships among congregations through support accompaniment, and partnership becomes a way to match the gifts of a congregation to the needs of others, not in a one-way direction but in the light of reciprocity and giftedness of all.

The Stewardship DT is actively working and planning on several projects, and I would like to share with you two in particular.  First, “Let’s Talk about Money!”  Workshop for congregations will be held on March 7th (10:00 AM -3:00 PM) at Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Jose. We hope to offer it both in person and possibly through a livestreaming. The second project came out of the recent national stewardship event, where the team learned about Kaleidoscope’s Holy Currencies. The hope is to bring together teams from congregations to go through an intentional orientation workshop on this stewardship tool and process, which they can take into their respective congregations and continue on the journey together praying and supporting each other.  More detailed information about these events and registration will come soon.

I don’t have a new year’s resolution to offer to you, though I hope that you would join and participate these projects and programs. These plans will become a reality soon, with our congregations across the synod planning and preparing themselves to participate as church together.

Looking towards 2020, I wonder what kind of footprints we are going to leave, not only for the future but impacting our present lives together. I wonder what kinds of questions you would have from your respective contexts, gifts and challenges. I wonder…

Together with Pastors Barbara Foltin and Dawn Roginski (Chairpersons of Stewardship and Discipling Team respectively), we would be happy to hear from you and together we welcome the new year, 2020, grounded in God’s life giving promises.

Tita Valeriano
Director for Evangelical Missional and Assistant to the Bishop

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