“No one would have remembered the Good Samaritan if all he had were good intentions. He had money as well.” —Margaret Thatcher
by David Barnum,
Anglican Diocese of Edmonton Stewardship Committee Chair
At the end of April, the Edmonton Diocese held a Saturday morning session about stewardship at Christ Church. The speaker was Mark Anschutz from Cape Cod in Massachusetts. All of us that Saturday morning (about 40) really didn’t know what was ahead of us. Who was this American Episcopal priest who would teach us something about stewardship that we didn’t know already? All of us believed we knew something about this topic. As my sister told me several months ago, “stewardship is about money and how the church is always short.” Well, Mark Anschutz helped us revise our understanding and start afresh.
Setting the Stage for A Conversation
Towards a Theology of Christian Stewardship
Anschutz told us, we Anglicans, have difficulties in having conversations about stewardship. There are two main reasons. One is that we can’t talk about money, but the another is that we have forgotten our history.
Many changes have happened over the past 300 years about how the Anglican church has sustained itself. Historically, it was the English Crown who provided funds and direction for the church. It chose the bishops and the priests who went out to the American colonies. The Episcopal Church found this to be a major problem a when the American Colonies separated. They survived with the help of well-to-do members, such as George Washington. Meanwhile, the Canadian Anglican Church continued receiving crown support until the War of 1812-14 when the church was granted support through the granting of real estate tracts. Later, both the Canadian Anglican and Episcopal churches rented pews for support (example: St James Cathedral in Toronto). During the 1920s to ’40s, churches adopted pledge systems, and from the ’40s to ‘60s added persuasion techniques that often used guilt as a primary source of motivation.
A major shift in thinking happened in 1968. In Alabama, the Episcopal church realized the stewardship issue is not one primarily of money, it is about how much God loves every one of us and frees us. It realized, too, our scriptures from both Old and New Testament are rich sources of understanding why we are called to become stewards of all God has given us. “Nothing belongs to us. It all belongs to God. We are called to be grateful people for all God has entrusted to us.”
“People go through three conversions in the Christian faith: their head, their heart, and their pocketbook—unfortunately, not all at the same time!” – Martin Luther
“Becoming a Christian is not an intellectual process; it is a rub-off process. We are Christians because we have known other Christians. —William Appleton Lawrence 3rd Bishop of Massachusetts (1889-1968)
“Cancer gave me a chance to stop and appreciate…To me gratitude is key. To wake up every day and appreciate the life you have been given and act accordingly.” —Alyson Woloshyn, Calgary
Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst for the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love. — Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596)
Moving to A New Perspective
What kind of giver are you? Is stewardship as necessary part of your Christian journey? Mark Anschutz told us we become better stewards when we have active prayer lives which develops our relationship and understanding of God and Jesus. When we develop this key relationship within our lives, it becomes much easier to see grace in all things.
“The Church needs to be challenged in heroic giving. No timidity is allowed in proclaiming the Good News and healing of the Gospel. The world’s needs are so great, and the Church’s role in the transformation of the person and of the world so pivotal and essential, that any timidity on the subject is an insult to God.”—George Regas, Past Rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena, California
Many Good Reasons for Getting on the Stewardship Journey
- It quiets us, freeing and liberating something deep within us.
- It helps control some of our fears.
- It inspires us to do more for others.
- It allows us to concentrate on other aspects of the Christian faith: worship, study, pastoral care, missions, etc.
- It aids aids us in putting Christ in the center of our lives.