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Stewardship Campaign

2015

Stewardship Campaign
This Sunday is the start of our Stewardship campaign. This is the time of the year when we
ask everyone to pledge to support our little church.
In the Episcopal Church, the Vestry has responsibility for financial matters, and I am happy to let them
worry about money. But it is my responsibility, as the priest, to preach on what the Bible says about
Christian stewardship, and that is what I plan to do today.

1. What do we mean by stewardship?


The Episcopal church defines stewardship as sharing with the church our talents, our time and our
treasure. In other words, stewardship is the duty all Christians have to share their skills, time and money
with their community of faith.
Many of you are very generous with your time and your talents. And I am very grateful for that.
However, to be very specific, the stewardship campaign we start today focuses on money. This is the
time of the year when we ask you to pledge to share your financial resources to help us pay the bills and
keep to St. James open.
Our stewardship campaign will last 3 Sundays: today I will speak about what the Bible says about giving.
Next Sunday Carol, our Treasurer will talk about how the money you give is spent, and the following
Sunday a member of the congregation will talk about why she chooses to pledge to St. James and what
St. James means to her.

2. In the Old Testament, there are several overlapping tithing laws that can be summarized
this way: the Jews were asked to give 10% of their income for 3 different purposes:
a. To support the Levites. Israel was made up of 13 tribes: the 12 tribes who got a share of the land, and
the 13th tribe, the Levites, who did not get any land but were spread throughout the country to serve the
other 12 tribes as their priests. So, in exchange for not receiving land and serving as priests, the
Levites received 10% of the income of the other tribes.
b. Eventually, all the worship was centralized at the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was a huge complex.
The Levites moved to Jerusalem and became the temple staff. So, the second reason for tithing was to
pay for the upkeep of the temple.
c. Finally, the third reason for tithing in the Old Testament was to provide support for the needy: the poor,
the widows and the orphans, the foreigners and all those who did not have resources.

Stewardship Campaign
So, in the Old Testament, the purpose of tithing was to support the priests, the temple and the poor.
The underlying principle was that God had created the universe, chosen them as his people, freed them
from slavery, and given them the promised land. The land of the Israelites, their source of income, was a
gift from God. In return, they had a duty to worship the only God and care for their neighbors in need.

3. Let us look at giving in the New Testament,


We read in the Acts of the Apostles that the members of the early church pooled all of their resources and
used the money to support the fledging church and the poor.
St. Paul, in the 2nd letter to the Corinthians (chapters 8 and 9) outlines the Christian principles for giving:
1) It should be done regularly. 2) It should be proportionate to the household income, and, 3) Everyone
should contribute to the best of their ability.
Traditionally, the Episcopal Church asks us to tithe, that is to say, to give 10% of our income. Some people
can afford to do that, but I know that many here struggle to make ends meet.

4. What does St. James do with the money you give us?
1. We tithe ourselves: give 10% of of income to the diocese to support the church and works of charity.
2. We pay the salary of the priest and staff, and take care for our buildings.
3. Finally, we support the poor and needy by supporting soup kitchens and individuals in need to the best of
our ability, and also by sharing our building with the 12 step groups. They pay a fee that is much lower
than our costs for the building.
.So, as a community of faith we strive to live by the principles of the Bible
.As you know I am past the mandatory retirement age. Last week I was officially re-appointed to be your pastor for 1 more
year. I plan to continue to serve as your priest as long as you will have me, as long as my heath holds up and as long as the
Bishop re-appoints me. But nobody knows what the future holds.
. Last week, I was officially reappointed for another year. The 2 criteria the Bishop uses to decide my reappointment are 1) is
the church, under my leadership, vital and viable or is it becoming static and stale? And 2) are the wardens and the vestry
recommending me unanimously?
.I love this little church. This is where I re-discovered my vocation to be a priest and I am convinced that this is where God
wants me to be. I can be as political as the next guy, but, ultimately I believe that as long as we do the best we can, we can
leave the rest up to God, and let God to take it from there.
. St. James has managed to survive and thrive as a small church for 150 years, and, with your help, St. James will be here
long after I am gone. Please, be as generous as you can. Thank you.