How does a church “do stewardship” in the ever-changing world of the 2020s? Using grant money that Pastor Meggan secured from the Northwest Intermountain Synod of the ELCA and the Myrtle Foundation, Trinity began exploring this question. Starting in May 2022, we joined four other congregations from the region, meeting four times as a cohort on Zoom with consultants from GSB. During alternate months, the Trinity team met separately with our consultants, plus we had ongoing access to them by text, phone and email throughout the year. With their help, we created a very different fall financial appeal, complete with full-color bulletin inserts, a brochure, and statement of intent cards. Our thanks to Kristina and Carl Radke, Sarah Henthorn and Dean Metzger for speaking in church during the appeal – outlining the ways Trinity impacts their lives in the areas of faith formation, having tough conversations, and ministry excellence. In response to this appeal, 37 households submitted statement of intent cards, with a total of $120,912.00 committed to our 2023 ministries. That’s an increase in commitments of 19.7% over what was pledged for 2022. What is even more heartening, during a global period of financial uncertainty related to inflation, 29 households pledged to increase their average weekly offerings to Trinity in 2023.
We will continue our relationship with GSB in 2023, focusing on other aspects of stewardship, including how we volunteer our time and our talents, how we approach the endowment fund and legacy giving, and how we encourage people to connect the dots between money given to Trinity and our ministries within the congregation and beyond our walls. Be watching this spring for Trinity to host a community event on how to have tough conversations about difficult topics.
Yet “stewardship” is much bigger than “the pledge drive”. The broader perspective is this: Christians acknowledge that ALL we are and have are gifts from God. This concept permeates our daily decisions about how we use our time, what we do with our stuff, how we care for our bodies and our world, and how we share our giftedness (both within our church and in the world beyond the narthex doors.) “Year-Round-Stewardship” is how Trinity addresses stewardship in daily life.
In January, we let our Epiphany Star Words guide us to a deeper sense of how our faith connects with our daily lives. In February, our focus was on Stewardship of Our Attention, asking us to ponder *where do I notice and pay attention to God? *who is God asking me to pay attention to this week? *how does where I direct my attention during my discretionary time align with my values? *how do I critically engage with media? March was Stewardship of Our Property – asking people to notice different parts of our property: the patio area; the garden; the entrance; the narthex; the hallway, etc., and to participate in the pre-Easter work day.
During Lent, we encouraged you to be good stewards of God’s Presence…. to ponder how “we come from dust” each time we touch dust or dirt; to position our arms like pretzels as we pray; to compliment others; to give to our neighbors; to connect with the symbols of faith, such as candles. During April-May, we talked about being stewards of God’s Gift of Water, particularly since we live in a desert and drought impacts so many areas of the world. We took time during June to be good stewards of our relationships, re-energizing them at our very popular “food trucks and lawn games” event, at fellowship time after worship and at the church CampOut. In July-August, we focused on stewardship of our stories. Our thanks to Phil Cronk, Mary Braudrick, Sarah Henthorn, Judy Kellar, Dean Metzger, Bryce Quarve, Steve Ward, and our teens who went to Minneapolis for sharing how God and their faith community have impacted their daily lives. Links to these videos are available on the church website nampatrinity.org .
During the rest of the year, we looked at stewardship of generosity, stewardship of creation, and plunged into a ‘season of gratitude’, followed by a ‘season of celebration.’
We are also grateful for generosity during special appeals: fundraisers such as Idaho Gives in May, raising $1550 (including $700 from non-members) and Avenues for Hope, supporting Trinity New Hope housing in December. The “Avenues” effort yielded $9,201 in donations PLUS another $6,550 in combined matches and prizes. We continue to be heartened by the 41 family and friend (ie, non-member) households who demonstrate they share our concern for affordable housing by supporting this financially.
We continue to encourage people to give in a variety of ways, including through online giving, using your bank’s bill-pay system, mailing checks to the church, and qualified charitable donations from IRAs, and of course using the offering plate on Sunday morning.
Phil Cronk, Sarah Henthorn, David Sheriff, Penelope Smith, Brandon Ziemer