Stewardship is the all-inclusive term used to describe our church’s management of God’s gifts and resources entrusted to us. It encompasses the nurturing and engagement of volunteers, the use of money to enable ministry, and the care of our property, the building and the grounds, as well as the Quiet Garden, reflecting our responsibility to care for God’s Creation.
Volunteers in Ministry
The full-time clergy of the parish, and very part-time independent contractors that include, at present, an Administrative Assistant, an A/V Specialist, a Choir Director, a pianist (Choir) and a Contemporary Music Director, are in paid ministries. Everything else which happens in the parish is provided by members exercising their God-given gifts in ministry, as they live out their Baptismal vows. Leadership roles include, for example, Wardens and members of Council, but there are a dozen others that fall into this category.
Ministries that support and enrich our parish mission offer individuals a variety of opportunities to put their faith into action. Our worship services involve laity as readers, intercessors, Communion Administrators, Servers, the Altar Guild and members of our choir and our contemporary music group, Emmaus. Worship is also supported through administration, technology, Financial Ministries and parish artists. Discipleship Ministries include Adult Christian Education and ongoing, lay-led Bible Study, youth ministry and children’s ministry as well as special events, devotionals and need-based courses.
Outreach is owned by the parish as a whole but support ministries include collections, deliveries, our long standing support of The Well’s breakfast programme with muffins, educational opportunities and special projects, such as our Blue Door to End Homelessness and the purchase of a new washing machine for Centre 105, in Cornwall. The youth most recently were involved in a Youth Homelessness initiative that originated with CLAY. We fully support the ‘local’ Community Ministries of the Diocese and the Food Banks, as well as contributing to national and international charities.
Stewardship of our technology, finances and property provide a number of avenues for those with gifts in these areas who are willing to share their expertise. Community ministries focus on special events, open to the public, such as our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, and on gatherings and fellowship occasions for the parish ‘family’. The various interest groups within the church, such as the Craft Group, also come under this umbrella. The Pastoral Care Team is the group which, working with the clergy and others in leadership roles, endeavour to provide a listening ear, care and often practical assistance to our members. The Prayer Chain supports and augments this ministry. Members of the Pastoral Care Team are trained in pastoral care, with opportunities for continuing education, and meet monthly.
Every parishioner is called by God into ministry, as they are equipped and able. Discernment about what ministry to embrace is a shared process that includes the individual, the clergy and others associated with each particular ministry. Many positions require training, and refreshment training, and Screening in Faith, or Safe Church, processes which include interviews and police records checks.
The culture of St. Helen’s parish concerning finances begins with the understanding that the faith community funds our ministries with personal donations. Traditionally this has been expressed with offering envelopes, based on weekly attendance at worship. We still provide envelopes for those who wish to use them but now there are other options.
For over ten years now we have encouraged our members to give regularly through PAR (Pre-Authorized Remittance). This programme, administered by the United Church of Canada and used extensively within the Anglican Church, is a debit programme whereby the amount you name is withdrawn from your account on a monthly basis. Registering, increasing that amount or, if need be, cancelling your gift, simply requires an e-mail to the church and the Financial Ministries team will do the rest. Aside from the commitment that this approach reveals, it enables the parish to budget with some knowledge of expected revenue, rather than total ‘guesstimates’.
Our parish letters, mailed at Easter, Thanksgiving and Easter include special offering envelopes and provide the opportunity to add a financial gift to your church envelopes or PAR method of supporting the church. We also display a Canada Helps button on our website, allowing you to donate using a credit card, a practice with which many of us are now very familiar. Giving in this way provides you with an immediate receipt from Canada Helps (which also has charitable status) and you can use it as frequently as you wish. There are management fees associated with PAR and Canada Helps but these are simply the cost of doing business.
While it has not been our practice to run an annual stewardship, or pledge campaign at St. Helen’s, we do encourage reflection and action on this important area of church life through announcements, homilies, in parish communications and on the website. We also encourage all members to make the step to provide for ministry in this parish after their death, through estate planning and legacy gifts. (Please see below). Other articles elsewhere in Stewardship speak to the theology around responding to God’s blessings and supporting our church, as well as determining the amount of your annual gift.
The parish also raises funds through certain events, notable the Bazaar, and other sales, in any given year. Members are invited to donate towards Memorial Stones in our Quiet Garden, and to the Memorial Flowers which grace our Nave at particular times of the year. There are, as well, special focus drives for Outreach and Youth, (in recent years including the Blue Door to End Homelessness and CLAY, respectively) and, as with our ‘Growing into God’s Future’ initiative, there are sometimes major campaigns. Most of our faith community social events (such as the Pancake Supper and Christmas Gala) are funded through ‘your generous donations’ at the time, as opposed to ticket sales. The potential rental of Trinity Hall can also provide revenue but the management of our facility is complicated and we need to remember that our ministry purpose is not as rental agents. We are not in the position of providing ‘free’ space to the public nor are we presently equipped with personnel to oversee the operations and provide security and cleaning requirements. This may well be an area for future refinement.
The Finances of the parish are coordinated by the Treasurer, in consultation with the Wardens and Incumbent and reviewed by Council as well as the membership as a whole at Annual Vestry. Day-to-day financial management is undertaken by the dedicated volunteers on the Financial Ministries team.
Christian disciples profess a particular perspective on life’s journey. Baptized into the Body of Christ, the church, we are called into community and into ministry. We witness to the “Good News” and share in the care of the world God loves. And Christians live, and die, embraced in the promise of eternal life, in the nearer presence of God and in the company of those who have gone before us into glory. Our commitment to ‘equipping the saints’ includes all aspects of our mission and purpose as we serve, not only our own faith community, but all in need of nurture of all kinds and the disciples of the future.
If you do not have a Last Will and Testament, get one! It is the least you can do for your Executor. As you have been blessed as a member of the Church, consider leaving a monetary legacy to St. Helen’s, so that the good ministry of which you have been a part can continue. When you name St. Helen’s Anglican Church in your Will, with a lump sum or a percentage indicated, your offering will benefit generations to come. A Financial Advisor can also suggest a variety of other ways this may be accomplished including: life insurance, gift annuities, gifts of retirement fund accumulations, as well as more intricate instruments. As you have been blessed, bless others with your legacy gift!
Our church building, as expanded and renovated in 2017, is a necessary and valuable resource for ministry. It provides spaces for worship, gatherings, meetings, educational events, counselling areas, and office administration, and benefits every group and ministry within the church. We are all responsible for its care and upkeep and to treat it as well as, or better than, we treat our own homes.
We rely on willing volunteers to keep our facility in good shape and our operating costs as low as possible. This includes interior cleaning, and the care and maintenance of our exterior grounds, especially in the summertime. A team of ‘green thumbs’ care for the Quiet Garden. Experienced people also manage the variety of day-to day repairs and maintenance issues and take the garbage to the curb on garbage days. We hire a contractor for snow removal and professionals are also employed for maintenance to our state-of-the-art HVAC system, our alarm and fire safety systems upkeep and inspections. We ae very conscious of our environmental footprint, keeping heating and cooling costs and electrical use down as well as being conscious of the expected recycling of paper, plastics, and compost. The use of technology, including our audio/visual capabilities in both the Nave and Trinity Hall assist us to keep costs such as paper and photocopying low. Future plans for the property may well include further landscaping, with potential for outside gathering areas and improved lawns and 5 years post-construction repairs or replacement of some of the interior floors as well as the cupboards in the servery, for example. There is also a requirement at present to upgrade or replace our computers, telephone and internet systems in order to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
Sermon on the Amount Chapter 1:1
“Blessed are those who tithe, for they shall understand God’s generosity.”
‘Proof- texting’ the biblical basis for financial support of the church is easy. Not only do the Hebrew scriptures speak eloquently about wealth but Jesus frequently talked about money, including this verse: “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) And we are all familiar with St. Paul’s encouragement to the Christians in Corinth, “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing…”(2 Corinthians 9:7f)
The tithe under Mosaic law is specifically mentioned in the Books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The concept is simple. Give 1/10th of all your wealth to God, first. That simplicity has been challenged as people try to justify their reluctance…Does it mean before or after taxes, net or gross? The answer is ‘yes’. Oh, how we struggle with to whom our money belongs. And many would say that tithing is just the starting point! So perhaps you aren’t quite there yet, even if you add up all of your other charitable donations. God is patient with us in this area of our spiritual life, as well as every other, but the calling to think on these things is always there. Perhaps the following percentage giving chart will help in that regard:
|Annual Income||Monthly Income||3%||4%||5%||10%|
Sermon on the Amount Chapter 2:1
Our church budget is based on several factors: We have ‘given’ expenditures such as staff costs: ECOPS(Equalized Cost of Priestly Services, determined by the Diocese) and our independent contractors including our three music ministry positions, our Audio Visual Specialist and part-time Administrative Assistant. We also have utilities to pay, snow removal, and all of the associated costs around building maintenance(inside and out) and office requirements. As members of the Diocese of Ottawa we are notified of our “Fair Share” on a yearly basis and we budget for our desire to support our ministry and mission as a whole family, under our Strategic Plan(Worship, Discipleship, Stewardship, Outreach and Community). Oh, and we have substantial mortgage payments, reduced, fortunately, for the next five year term 2021-2026)! Each year we plan the expenditures budget based on recent history as well as projections and special projects. We do not have the amount for which we budget; we have to raise it, primarily through our personal weekly or monthly offering to the church. As the year progresses, acknowledging that unexpected expenses surface, we determine the ongoing financial picture and discuss the same at each Parish Council meeting. When necessary we make adjustments, and cut corners, just as each of us does with home finances.
We do not encourage ‘gifts in kind’ for several reasons. Sometimes someone want to give something to the church ‘for free’ but wants a charitable receipt…this negatively affects how “Fair Share’ is calculated. Often a person thinks a gift would be wonderful, even if that opinion is not shared by others, or we have nowhere to store it or the upkeep of the gift will not be managed by the giver but by ‘someone with time’. Sometimes people want to give only to one or two parts of our total mission; let’s face it, paying the hydro bill isn’t particularly spiritually meaningful but if we don’t pay it, other programmes will not be able to function after daylight hours!
Three Kinds of Givers: Someone has said, there are three kinds of givers — the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. To get anything out of a flint you must hammer it. And then you get only chips and sparks. To get water out of a sponge you must squeeze it, and the more you use pressure, the more you will get. But the honeycomb just overflows with its own sweetness. Which kind of giver are you?
How are You Offering Your Gifts?
All of us have been blessed by God with many gifts and they flourish as they are given away. We already have tools in place for financial gifts through St.Helen’s (offering envelopes, PAR, and gifts), but we have to be bolder offering the gift of ourselves.
Peter+’s Stewardship Homily Notes, Week 1
What does God want most for you? For us? Freedom – to be and to become the people God designed us to be. What is it that most prevents God’s design shining through? Fear – fear of trusting God. We are designed for freedom, not fear. How clearly does God’s design for your life shine through you?
Do you trust God? Do you trust money more? We need to become aware of how much we trust money to rescue us. Our addiction to money threatens our whole life.(Canadians spend an average of 140% of their income.) …
Pray your bank statement and ask God to speak to you through it. Where is God’s freedom being offered? What strikes you most about your finances?
We are journeying into God’s freedom…growing into God’s future.
Peter+’s Stewardship Homily Notes, Week 2
God’s love for us is amazing, and everything we do either reflects that love, and God shines through us, or tarnishes that love, and we are diminished.
For most people, money is the last barrier between the heart and God.
In which direction does your money flow? Inward or outward? Where is the balance for you?
God’s recipe for financial health:
- Live within your means
- Keep good records
- Plan your spending
- Return 10% to God
- Enjoy your freedom from fear.
Tools at St. Helen’s: envelopes, Pre Authorized Remittance, wills, capital campaign, life insurance, gift annuities, etc.
Generous financial stewardship not only frees us, it also works wonders for the Kingdom of God!
Next steps for me? Start giving a little more than you think you can afford (If your giving makes no difference in your life, then it is too little!).
‘Grateful’ and ‘unhappy’ are mutually exclusive.
We are called to mirror God’s grace and generosity to us.
How Much Should You Give?
Wonder how much you should be giving to the ministry of your church? Do you give $100 a month or $1200 a year? If you are giving $100 a month and your income is $1000 a month ($12,000. a year), then you are tithing at 10%. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” If you are giving $100 a month and your income is $3000 a month ($36,000. a year) then you are giving 3.3%. “Good”. If you are giving $100 a month and your income is $5000 a month ($60, 000 a year) then you are giving 2 %. “Well, then…” Next month…Do you give $100 a week?