Churches don’t usually focus on Stewardship during Lent.
Throughout history, Christians have used the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter to examine their lives of faith, considering how we might live more like Christ and what in our lives needs to change for Christ’s sake.
We at Western are asking ourselves those kinds of questions, although not always in those terms, in this season of church life.
- The Mission Ministry team, prompted by some of you, has heard about how we might be part of the sanctuary church movement – and supported an Open Space tomorrow after worship so that we might find out more – and supports the whole church as we host Out of Order, a documentary on LGBTQ candidates for ministry, on March 11.
- The Community Life Ministry team will encourage more conversation around sanctuary churches and next steps for anti-racism work in group discussions on Wednesday nights during Lent.
- Personnel Ministry meets this week to look at Western’s staffing needs, for the sake of balancing our need for more support for building and operations as well as developing the program priorities that grew out of our Discerning Our Faithful Future process this past fall and winter.
- Membership Ministry has planned new member classes designed to welcome newcomers as well as invite them more intentionally to a life of service and mission through matching them with those who are already involved at the church.
- Even our middle schoolers are asking questions of faith, as they participate in social action and reflection at the Pilgrimage this weekend.
Across the church we are considering how our common life – all of what we do and how we live together – might be more faithful, yet given the session’s report last week, we still need to consider how our giving makes all of this possible. As new clerk of session Nicole Wallace reported in last week’s session notes, we are still more than $70,000 short of our $360,000 budget goal for pledges, even as the finance committee has recommended that our draw on the funds we use as an endowment be reduced by more than $40,000, to move us closer to our goal of a 5% draw in the next three years. According to our giving statistics, if everyone who pledged or gave regularly last year but still hasn’t pledged this year made a 2017 pledge based on last year’s giving, we could more than reach our goal. Committing to reducing our draw will require some creative work – and faithful self-examination – to move us closer to responsible stewardship of those funds for the long-term health of Western’s ministry. Given the current commitment to and energy for ministry at Western right now, I am confident we can work towards financial health.
This Lent we have some self-examination ahead of us when it comes to stewardship, specifically our financial giving. A group will meet the morning of Saturday, March 11 to strategize about our overall approach to stewardship, even as the session, finance committee and others work on closing this year’s gap. If you have thoughts, concerns, prayers for the church, or anything else related to our financial giving and discipleship, please share them with me or the session, and expect to hear more from them and others as we consider stewardship this Lent.
Blessings of Christ’s peace for the Lenten journey ahead,