Stewardship in the Pandemic
by Kathye Hamm
We have had many challenges since beginning shelter in place took place, coming from many directions, but always relationships are at the heart of this concern. Relationship is also at the heart of stewardship celebrations and concerns, even during this challenge of the pandemic. Six weeks into this “new normal”, it is still daunting to think that 78% percent of congregational giving typically takes place in the context of physical gathering according to National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices. How can we approach stewardship when we can’t be together physically?
And yet, we cannot remind ourselves enough that to be church today is far more important than we could imagine, for we, the church, are in this together. The synod Stewardship Discipling Team continues to pray for and find ways to support our congregations, who lead pastorally and practically, during this time. In fact, the challenges of this crisis bring us to talk more about stewardship, both at home and in our respective congregations. Even as we continue to learn the dreadful information of the impact and effect of the pandemic, there are many stories and experiences that make the two values of good stewardship more prominent in our lives as Christians: GENEROSITY and GRATITUDE. We are all givers and receivers of generosity, even in such a time as this. As we give and receive, there is so much to be thankful for. And together we continue to celebrate the impact and effect of what generosity and gratitude bring to our community. The cycle of giving and gratitude brings us together in time of challenge.
Our Sierra Pacific Synod and its ministry partners have been graced with a financial “legacy” gift from St. John’s Lutheran in Sunnyvale. St. John’s is closing its ministry as a part of a merger with St. Luke’s Lutheran in Sunnyvale, and has sold its property. Ministries such as PLTS, Mt. Cross, Lutheran Social Services, the San Francisco Night Ministry, the Lutheran Office of Public Policy, our Companion Synods, California Lutheran University and others are the recipients of gifts that will be the legacy of St. John’s faithful generosity.
There are still many questions that swirl in our head and heart as individuals and congregations. Here are some questions around Stewardship to ponder that may be helpful for you and your community:
- What are ways to better steward your congregation’s assets (staff, property, finances, volunteers, leadership and social ministries that are vital in the current pandemic) during these challenging times?
- What are the goals and priorities for the congregation in this crisis? How can the whole congregation become a part of this discernment and implementation? How do goals and priorities during this crisis reflect the mission and vision statement of the congregation?
- Who are the people, organizations and support systems our congregations need during this time? How can we connect with them?
- What tools can we provide to help make giving easier for your congregation? Will helping congregations understand how to provide their giving via an electronic check or using an application like Simply Giving be useful?
There are many resources out there that may fit your unique needs as a congregation.
- The Generosity Project (TGP) Live It Out! This home resource is for families; find out more here and an accompanying letter to include the context of COVID-19 when you use TGP Live It Out!
- How to Get Up to Speed with Online Giving Quickly
- Our congregations’ virtual worship services are resources for stewardship as well. For ideas on how your congregation may make a relational ask for offerings during online worship, go to our Synod website and click on one of the congregation’s links found here.
A few reminders to inform you and to pray for:
- Holmerud Fund. The gift of honoring and saying thank you to Bishop Mark and Debbie as a synod continues. Thank you for those who have participated and we invite you to consider supporting this as we look forward to launching it in due time.
- Mission Support. A few events may have been cancelled in churchwide and synods around the nation but the ministries not only continue but are intensified by our current reality. Your mission support to your congregation is the manifold grace of God living through you.
- ELCA COVID – 19 Response Fund. As church together, supporting those congregations around the nations that support the least of our neighbors is a priority. Please consider supporting this new initiative.
So let us continue to work together. How can the Stewardship Discipling Team support you during these challenging times?
Pointing to hope rather than despair, grounded in Christ’s promise, is part of our task as leaders in the community. Heeding to our calling as good, generous, and grateful stewards is part of our vital response. Even though the church is physically apart, together, we can be truly vessels and brokers of hope for such a time like this.
Pastor Barbara Foltin, SDT Chairperson
Pastor Tita Valeriano, Director for Evangelical Mission/Assistant to the Bishop
May 19, 2020
May 12, 2020
May 05, 2020