Stewardship Talk by Paige Gunther
When the Stewardship Committee was discussing potential speakers and subjects, I suggested that someone with children in the parish share their thoughts about how beneficial our Church community is for our young people and the importance of stewardship to maintain our youth programs. Everyone agreed and then looked at me expectantly. So here I am.
I am a lifelong Episcopalian, and mother to a three year old. I want her to have the kind of church experience I did as a child; a warm, loving church full of kids her own age and older kids that she could look up to, and perhaps even more importantly, adults that made her feel welcome and treated her like she was an important part of her church.
When I first came to Christ Church last year, searching for a parish that could offer my daughter these things, I knew almost immediately that I had made the right choice for us, and started pledging after my second Sunday here.
The benefits of raising children with church as a strong part of their lives are numerous. Church provides them with a positive influence and helps counteract the many negative influences they receive in school, from the news of the world, and sometimes even at home. Church gives them special memories and helps them make lifelong friends. It helps them to make sense out of their lives. It teaches them to love and be kind to others. Most importantly, participation in church teaches them how to be effective leaders in the church as they grow older, and lays the foundation for an active adult life in the church. Of course, there are downsides to all of this participation. You have not felt judgment from others until your child is singing “Let us drink wine together on our knees” as you food shop.
Christ Church has been expanding its children’s offerings, and its outreach to the community, hoping to both serve the families we already have here and encourage more to join our congregation.
This summer we had over 30 kids at Vacation Bible School. There were over 100 kids at our Halloween party, many of whom were from the neighborhood. Our Godly Play classes are full each week, and the children are excited to learn new stories from the Bible and lessons from their teachers.
But of course these activities don’t fund themselves.
If you pledge already, a small increase over the course of a year can help purchase new art supplies for the Godly Play classrooms, or fund a Vacation Bible School scholarship for a child who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.
If you’re on the fence about pledging, and have children in the church who take part in our activities, I encourage you to reflect on everything that they receive from the church. Talk to them about what they did in Godly Play. Ask them what they think about during the liturgy. The answers may be surprisingly in depth and insightful. And then, ask yourself if you can make the commitment to be a pledging member of the church that is giving your child so much.
For those who don’t have children in the parish, please remember that your pledge isn’t just about art supplies and parties. The rate of people who identify as Episcopalians is declining in this country. Churches that once boasted robust congregations have dwindled significantly in numbers, and some have been forced to close. Each church will undoubtedly face hard financial times at some point in its existence, but with a strong congregation they can often persevere.
What we are doing now with the children of our parish is shaping the future of our church. We must continue to engage them, from the time they are small right up through their teenage and young adult years. It is crucial for our church to continue to thrive.
From spending time with them over the summer and from interacting with them in church each week, I can say we really have a great group of kids here. They’re kind and considerate, and most importantly, they love being here and being a part of our church community.
Some of them will hopefully remain parishioners and raise their families here. They will remember the unwavering support they had from the adults here, and will be the next generation of leaders for Christ Church, continuing to support the community and this parish, modeling their behavior our own.
As you prepare to make your pledges this stewardship season, please keep these thoughts in mind. An investment in our church now will reap great dividends in the future.
Stewardship Talk by Marshall Green
Well it’s been over two years since our family moved to New Jersey and this will be our third pledge to Christ Church since moving away. You know over the last fifty years I’ve seen allot of families move off Staten Island and leave the Parish. And it is an extra burden to get up early on Sunday and spend more time in the car in order to be here, but you know, this is where we want to be on Sunday. Here with all of you our Christ Church family and community. So I am truly happy to pledge again for another year of contributing to this wonderful home, away from home.
Now this year when I was asked to speak on stewardship, I was specifically asked to keep it short. I am not sure how much this aspect of the request is because today is a very full schedule and we have to keep things moving along and how much is a reaction to the eloquence of my previous stewardship talks. Nonetheless I will endeavor to be brief.
The theme this year is Cheerful Giving. So, I wasn’t sure what to talk about and wanted some inspiration so I googled what the Bible has to say about giving. Let me tell you; There is plenty.
Here’s a good one:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. From the book of John.
So we should give because God has given us everything and everything we have, we have because God has given it to us.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
This sounds like instructions on “how to give” but I think it really speaks to the motivation for giving. We should not be motivated to give for the rewards of this life but for the supreme reward that God gives which is Love.
Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35
So there are lots of reasons to give and there are rewards for giving but you know the best part about giving is really just how good it makes you feel. It is terrific!
The other day, Alice asked me what my favorite holiday is. Without hesitation I told her it is Christmas. Why? Sure there’s the bit about Jesus being born and all, but the real reason I love Christmas so much is all the presents. But I’m talking about all the presents I get to give. It is so great. It is the one time of year I get to really focus on giving to the people I love. I love it.
In fact, Giving is so wonderful that I think there may be only one thing better in this life and that is Loving. And Loving and Giving go together so well.
So here at Christ Church we have a community based on love and supported by giving. So to all of you I pledge my love and ask and encourage you to please make your pledge and give as much as you can to support this growing loving community. Oh and do it cheerfully, because it feels so good.
Stewardship Talk by Andrea Morse-Raff
I’m told that last year I gave a pretty good stewardship speech, so don’t laugh, I was rewarded by being made Chair of the Stewardship committee. I am an incurable optimist, so I do mean I was rewarded. It is a joy for me to talk about Stewardship.
The theme of this year’s stewardship campaign is “Cheerful Giving”, which comes from St. Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthians 9:7. “Each of you should give what you have decided on in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under any compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Every year at Christmas I look forward to two movies. The first is “It’s A Wonderful Life.” George Bailey realizes, after a lot of heartache, that it is a wonderful life and that he is showered with so many blessings and has everything to live for.
But my favorite is “A Christmas Carol.” I love all the versions of it, the old black and white and all the new ones. I even like the Mister Magoo version. The best part of “A Christmas Carol” is where Ebenezer wakes up after the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Future and realizes that he’s still alive. He is ecstatic. He gives Mrs. Dilber a raise, he buys the prize turkey and gives an enormous tip to the intelligent boy, the remarkable boy, and when he runs into the men who had asked him for a donation for the poor at which he had previously sneered “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”
Ebenezer is delighted to pledge and he says “Will you come and see me? Will you come and see me?” Of course he gives Bob Cratchit a raise and saves Tiny Tim and reconciles with nephew Fred. But for all the people he ends up helping, the happiest one of all is Ebenezer. Ebenezer becomes a happy, loving, generous man.
We here are so blessed and we have so much to be joyful and cheerful about, you and I, we live in America, in New York, in Staten Island, I love Staten Island! and especially we are so blessed to all be part of the Christ Church family and come here and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You will receive a packet in the mail with the pledge card and other information. Whether or not you pledge and the amount you pledge is confidential.
We need to know the amount of the pledges as early as possible so we can start the budget. The pledges provide the bulk of our income, and pay for Father Chuck, the lights, the heat (such as it is!), the cleaning. All of you who previously pledged, please continue. Father Chuck said I should ask you to prayerfully consider increasing your pledge. With all due respect I am telling you to increase your pledge. If you currently pledge $200, increasing your pledge to $220 won’t mean a hill of beans of difference in your own life, but it shows your commitment to Jesus Christ and to Christ Church. I personally have increased my own pledge by ten percent.
For those of you who haven’t pledged yet, I ask you to start this year, even if for a very small amount. I understand perfectly well the anxiety, what if I lose my job and can’t fulfill the pledge? What if my business drops? If that kind of worry is preventing you from pledging, then just make it a small amount that you know you can meet. I myself only started pledging a few years ago. You don’t run a marathon the first time you go running, you run around the block.
You can leave the pledge card in the collection plate, you can mail it in, hand it to Beth or to Father Chuck or leave it in the office.
Over the next few weeks, we will hear from other members about their stewardship journey. November 9 the stewardship committee is sponsoring coffee hour and I say, come hungry, because on that day we are going to really feed you abundantly, joyfully and cheerfully!