I’m David McSweeney. I’m a member of our vestry, and I am serving on the Stewardship Committee this year. Today, we are kicking off our 2019 Commitment Campaign. This is the time of year when we all have the opportunity to reflect on our participation at Epiphany.
Our theme this year is Bread for the Journey: Setting a Bountiful Feast. This theme celebrates our gratitude for God, our Church, and each other. I think that’s a really important message – celebrating our gratitude for God, our Church, and each other. It makes me realize how lucky and blessed we are. Am I right? (This is when you all say “YES”)
As we were preparing for this year’s stewardship campaign, I was reminded of a wonderful sermon that was given here four years ago by Bishop Gene Robinson. Here are the important things that I learned from that sermon:
1. Stewardship is about gratitude
2. We have so much to be grateful for, especially in a global context, so what are we going to do about it
3. We ourselves end up being the greatest beneficiaries of our giving
4. If we don’t have a lump in our throats when we write our checks, then we’re not giving enough
He said all of these things! Honestly, I was squirming in my seat, but it helped frame our discussion at home about our giving and our desire to get closer to tithing, which I’ll admit is still an aspirational goal. I know, I said it. Tithing – it’s the third rail in the Episcopal Church – Bishop Robinson said that too! He also shared his story about how he increased pledging by 1% of his income each year over a 10-year period, so that he could reach that goal. He likened it to training for a marathon; he actually called stewardship a kind of spiritual fitness. There’s no way I could go that far, but little by little you can get, if not there, at least close. Brett and I will be increasing our pledge by 1% of our total income this year, as we have been doing since that sermon in 2014.
Did you know that 87% of our church’s annual budget is financed by our pledges? Because we are committed to maintaining a balanced budget, it’s so important that we have all of our pledges in by December 2nd. On that day, we’ll have a church-wide celebration after the 10:00am service; please plan to be here.
And, as you consider how grateful you are and what you are going to do about it, if you are able to increase your pledge or even pledge for the first time, each of us will be the greatest beneficiaries of our giving.