When Douglas Hambidge says “They never ask me to support the organization: they always urge me to join them in the mission”, he is not talking about the church. The retired Archbishop says there are two main issues that discourage generosity: people have little sense of personal engagement in mission; and people have little sense of having a voice in the mission.
These are just some of the challenges to a theology of abundance that 31 individuals from 21 parishes heard about at God’s Abundance Everyday - the first in the 2013 series of Leaders in Stewardship seminars sponsored by the diocesan Stewardship and Gift Development Committee.
‘We have to begin an un-learning process in the congregation”, said Douglas Hambidge, referring to the term stewardship. “For decades the unspoken – and often not at all un-spoken - message is that stewardship is summed up in the parish budget and the Sunday morning offering plate. That has to be unlearned. It is not much use simply saying, “Stewardship is not only about money”. The people know differently. There is no point bleating about “Time, Talents & Treasure”, when everyone knows it is treasure you’re after.
Participants heard that the people of God need to rediscover their vocation and ministry so that they become participants in mission. The first step in this discovery process is to acknowledge that all we have and all that we are already belongs to God. Good Stewards recognize God’s place in all things and our place in relation to God. Secondly, it is God’s abundance that has been entrusted to us. The gifts of the spirit are intended to benefit others. Then, the Archbishop proposed this question to help people wrestle with their response: “What do you believe God is calling our faith community to do in the next one or two years?
“I have discovered that as people begin to wrestle with what God’s purpose might be for them, a new willingness to be an active participant grows.” They might say, “As I begin to see that some of my visions and dreams of what God wants us to do are actually being pursued, then, I am likely to throw in my lot to help the whole mission process along. I’ll be more willing to commit time; I’ll be more likely to offer what skills and energies I might have, and I will want to support what God has called us to do with my financial resources.” Adds the archbishop, “Make no mistake about it: “Where my treasure is – and my time and my skills – there will my heart be also” – Jesus said so!”
The seminar offered practical ways to gather information and encourage conversation about mission and ministry to help Anglicans engage and respond. Many purchased THE S WORD: Reflections on Stewardship with Practical Programme Suggestions
by Douglas Hambidge. Copies are still available at $15.00 from the diocesan office. Notes from Archbishop Hambidge’s talk are available online at the Seminar 2013 tab at www.thegoodsteward.ca
If your parish needs assistance with stewardship programs, contact Glen Mitchell, Director of Stewardship & Gift Planning.
Images: Top and homepage, Archbishop Douglas Hambidge. Middle right, Barbara Carrington - Smith and Drew Gauntley from St. Mark's, Ocean Park Lower left, Jill Warda and Karol Henrotte from All Saints, Agassiz. Photos taken at St. Andrew's, Langley.