Stewardship – An Update
Presentation to St Benet’s Parish AGM; 15 Sept 2021.
As we come out of lockdown, we are invited by Fr Martin to take a good look at our parish, the way we do things, the things we could do better, and how we invite all parishioners to contribute their time, talents and skills to build up our worship, our activities and management.
Stewardship is not the same as stewarding, it is not about money, but that needs consideration too, It is about Recognising ourselves as Christians in general and Catholics in Particular.
We are no longer a “Downside Parish”, we are on our own as a Diocesan Parish
Under the Church’s definition of Stewardship, we are invited to:-
- strive to have a life of Gratitude for the Gifts that God has given us;
- tend to our gifts in an accountable and responsible manner;
- share those gifts with others;
- and return a meaningful proportion of them back to the Lord.
A few years ago, we carried out a Census of all our parishioners inviting them to tell about their many talents, skills, life-involvements and experience; it was not a success, as only a very small percentage responded to that specific request in the survey.
We are not trying to make anyone feel guilty about this! We hope that soon we will be returning to “normal”, so that we can develop a more social aspect to our parish life. We hope to work with Fr Martin to unburden him of some of the excess workload he has to carry.
Many New Burdens on our Parish
In the past year we have been inundated with considerable new work by the enforcement of laws covering Health and Safety, property maintenance, electrical and asbestos surveys, risk assessments, Insurance cover for our properties and public liability.
Now we have huge onerous new requirements under the Data Protection Act and the GDPR as well as child protection practice, all need to be reviewed and up dated regularly.
When it comes to finance, we have some very large elements of expenditure on the fabric of the Church and the Parish Hall as well as the grounds.
Under the heading of Finance, we are now budgeting to cover all known liabilities as well as facing up to the unforeseen possibilities that might hit us.
Four years ago, we agreed to raise £44,000 (under Alive in Faith) to get the Diocese funding of its issues in order. That will come to an end in 2022. It might be the opportunity to transfer some of that giving to safeguard the Parish against future liabilities.
Keeping the parish financial records could be considerably eased for our treasurer if the weekly collection could be made by monthly Standing Order direct from our bank accounts.
We will arrange for as many parishioners to sign Gift Aid and Standing Orders costing Donors no more, but claiming the Tax you have paid,to come to the Parish. Last year the Parish reclaimed £3,500; if more parishioners joined, we can claim even more from the Government!
In his letter to our Parishioners Fr Martin will be telling us that
“As we emerge gradually from lock-down there is plenty to stimulate our prayers, thoughts and initiatives, when it comes to supporting one another and rebuilding our community life. May this time be an opportunity, a new beginning, and fresh hopes for the future .”
The primary Purpose of Stewardship is to honour God and work together to build up our Church and its Community.
I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this and any comments on my notes of 16th August.
An Introduction to Stewardship in Beccles Parish.
- Stewardship has taken off in the USA and here in the UK in the Anglican and Evangelical Churches.
- In our Diocese there are no parishes involved ….yet!
- I heard from the Diocesan Treasurer that the Diocese intends to appoint a co-ordinator.
- So, this is a first for me, and for St Benet’s.
Stewardship in its simplest form, is the act of putting God’s priorities before our own. Good stewards give the first portion of their gifts of time, talent and treasure to the Lord’s work, in gratitude for his many Blessings.
I was a member of the Parish 40 years ago and re-joined after we moved here three years ago. I have been hugely impressed with the enormity of commitment and the even greater amount of time and talent given over to making the parish ”God Centred”.
I need to learn a lot more about ALL those things which make up our parish. If this is to take off and I am to be its leader, I will need to have a small team with which I can work and consult – and rely on their wisdom!
The Three Facets of Stewardship
A true understanding of Stewardship begins with taking care of and sharing the gift of time; it needs to planned in order to have the time:-
- to work;
- to rest and play, and
- to pray;
and should help to balance our physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual lives.
Stewardship means taking care of and sharing God’s gifts; our talents are special blessings received from God which can be used to help others, not just time or money.
True Stewardship is taking care of and sharing all that we have and are, to the benefit of others.
The Spirituality of Stewardship
This means living out our commitment to be Christ-centred. Jesus Christ is God’s greatest gift to us. Stewardship tells us to share a proportion of our time, talent and treasure so that God’s gift, Jesus Christ may be given to those who do not know him.
Some parishes have seen Stewardship as selling a discipline to parishioners so that the financial burden of running a Catholic Parish should be shared according to each person’s ability to contribute.
There are issues in our parish on weekly collections being paid by standing orders and gift aided.
We need to agree our own priorities.
Notes of Presentation to PPC; Thursday 16 July 2020.