Last month, we ran an article in the Herald entitled “Gearing Up for our 2018 Stewardship Campaign,” and noted that, while the term “gearing up” might sound a little strong, it was used specifically because we are on a campaign. A campaign to enlist the support of all of Annunciation’s parishioners. We’ve noted statistics, that we are averaging 350 stewards. That is, 350 individuals and families fill out a pledge card to monetarily support the work of the Cathedral. To help the Cathedral meet its budget of approximately $1700 a day, or $620,500 for the year. However, supporting the work of the Church through Stewardship is more than a matter of meeting budgets. It’s a spiritual connection. And, so, the message of the Stewardship Campaign is not merely “give to support the work of the Cathedral,” but, as Scripture puts it, in the words of Colossians 3:23, above, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for me. In the end, it’s not about mere giving, it’s about faith. We invite you, therefore, to read through the following paragraphs. They touch on the Mission of Stewardship—what is its purpose—and what does it mean for you, as a baptized Orthodox Christian, for your family, for the future? How can you shape that future? A question that is vital to our identity, as we build a landmark house of worship, to serve you and to serve future generations. One last thing. After you read through the rest of this article, should you have any questions, we invite you to address them to our Stewardship team. Together with Father Stephen, the committee includes Gus Vouchilas, Philip Athanasiades, Chris Kyriacou, Nick Svetcoff, Perri Nager and Dean Nicolacakis. In the February issue of the Herald, we would like to feature an honor roll of stewards, and would like to see your name on that honor roll. How can your name be on the honor roll of Stewards? Simple, if you are an individual 18 years old and above, or a husband and wife, who consider the Annunciation Cathedral your parish, send in your 2018 Stewardship Pledge Card by January 15, if you have not already done so. Meanwhile, please read on.
Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a way of life, which acknowledges accountability, reverence, and responsibility before God. A primary goal of Stewardship is to promote spiritual growth and strengthen faith. Becoming a Steward begins when we believe in God, to whom we give our love, loyalty and trust and act on those beliefs. As Stewards, we affirm that every aspect of our lives comes as a gift from Him. Stewardship calls on the faithful to cheerfully offer back to God a portion of the gifts with which they have been blessed.
An Orthodox Christian Steward is an active participant in the life of the Church. The parish encourages and expects all who accept the Orthodox Faith to become practicing Stewards. Each year the Steward is expected to carefully review his or her personal circumstances and make a commitment of time, talent, and treasure to support the Parish and her Ministries, which in turn support the National Ministries of our Archdiocese, Metropolises, and institutions.
Effective stewardship ministry is not a single event or project. Rather, it is going out to our people wherever they are in their walk with Christ, listening to their concerns, helping them to realize their importance as branches of the True Vine and encouraging them to offer their gifts in His service. We use various resources to support our efforts, but unless we meet with our people personally, sincerely listen to their ideas and concerns, and share a vision for the future of the parish, our efforts will not reach their full potential.
In “Oriented Leadership,” their book on Orthodox Christian leadership, the authors Williams and McKibben define stewardship as the call of the faithful to share willingly the gifts that God has bestowed on them, including sharing these gifts for God’s work. Stewardship is devotion and service to God and His Church as persons, as families, as a Parish, as a Metropolis, as a National Church, and as the Church Universal. Stewardship is our active commitment to use ALL our time, talent and treasure for the benefit of humankind in grateful acknowledgement of Christ’s redeeming love.
Stewardship is caring for the needs of others. Stewardship is offering one's self to God as He offered Himself to us. Stewardship is what a person does after saying "I believe..." as proof of that belief. - Williams and McKibben in Oriented Leadership
In the words of Fr. William Chiganos of Holy Apostles Church in Westchester, Illinois, “…people don’t give to need; they give to vision…. Church people don’t stretch their giving because of need to meet the budget; they give more because they are able to see a vision of people being reached and God’s purposes being accomplished in the life of the church and its ministry.” Parishes with successful Orthodox Christian Stewardship Programs have found that incredible support is unleashed from Stewards who unselfishly and joyfully offer their time, talent and treasures, which in turn enhances the spirituality and ministry of the local parish.
We happen to believe that the Annunciation Cathedral parish is such a parish, as defined above. It is a family of God’s people, accepting, embracing, loving, committed, dedicated. May God continue to bless the work of our hands, as, whatever we do, we do with all our heart, as working for the Lord!