Stewardship at St. Davids
Here at St. David’s we believe that Stewardship is a three-fold
just our pledge, our financial giving, but equally importantly, the
giving of our time and our talents. What we have belongs not to us
but to God – our time (our life), our talents (our unique gifts),
and our treasure (our money). Christian Stewardship is all that we
do with all that we have after we say “I believe.” Stewardship is
the intentional use of all of the resources and gifts that God has
given us to restore all people to unity with God and each other.
Learn more about
Stewardship at St Davids.
The Bishop's Message on Stewardship
Columns of the
Right Reverend Mark M. Beckwith
Bishop of Newark
at the kitchen table, contemplating God’s abundance
One of the first
stewardship sermons I ever heard was one that I didn’t listen to.
But my wife did.
It was 1982, and
I was a newly married associate rector at St. Peter’s, Morristown.
In his sermon, the rector, David Hegg, talked about the discipline
of proportionate giving, which involves adding up the amount of your
charitable giving for the year, figuring out what percentage that
number is of your total income and then making a conscious decision
to increase that percentage each year— with a 10 percent tithe as a
I didn’t want to
do that, and so I didn’t pay attention. I figured that my decision
to become a priest meant that I was entering into a vocation of
giving, and so I shouldn’t be pressed to give any more. Besides
which, the financial sacrifice I made by choosing the ordained
ministry — over some more-lucrative professions I also had
considered, put me in a position of not being able to give much, if
But my wife
Marilyn paid attention, and she dragged me to the kitchen table one
night so that we could together figure out what we gave to God’s
work in the world (which included the church, our colleges and some
favorite charities). It wasn’t much — about one percent.
discussion, she eagerly — and I reluctantly — decided to increase
our giving to two percent the next year. We also decided that our
first financial decision each year would be how much we were going
to give away, and that the tithe would be our goal.
That sermon, and
the subsequent kitchen table discussion, served as catalysts for one
of the seismic spiritual shifts in my life. When my wife and I
increased our giving — and made it our primary financial decision, I
found myself to be less resentful over what I didn’t have (and
wouldn’t earn) and more grateful for what I was able to give freely.
It was a move from scarcity to abundance — and as my family and I
have continued to increase our giving level to the tithe, I have
found myself less a hostage to economics (which by definition is the
science of scarcity) and more available to the wonder of God’s
This is the
season of financial stewardship. As we get ready for the rather
daunting task of asking parishioners to make financial pledges to
fund the mission and ministry of the church, a strong case can be
made for the church’s need to receive.
Each of our
parishes has visions and priorities, buildings and staff, programs
and bills — all of which need our attention and support. Our
substantial financial support. And as each of our parishes begins to
engage in its annual end-of-the-year reality check – otherwise known
as the creation of next year’s budget – it has been my experience
that a growing anxiety over scarcity often can overtake opportunity,
and a congregation’s need to receive can become an unpleasant
process of exerting pressure for people to pony up.
But I think
Christian stewardship really comes down to our need to give — not as
an economic necessity, but as a spiritual discipline. It’s a
discipline that involves some arithmetic,
discussion and debate at the kitchen table — and an opportunity to
move more deeply into the abundance of the living God.
For more than 20
years, the Diocese of Newark has invited its congregations to
consider their own stewardship as a discipline of needing to give by
increasing their percentage of giving each year to the diocese –
with a 25 percent tithe as a goal. Leaders gather at the vestry
table, do the arithmetic – and pledge a percentage to the diocese by
the first of December.
At the Diocesan
Council table, a similar discussion is held. And for more than 20
years, the council has decided to pledge 25 percent of its income to
the national church – as a discipline of its need to give. (That
percentage was reduced in 2007, but with the expectation that, in
future, it would be brought back up to the 25 percent level.)
This year, the
diocesan Stewardship Commission has created a stewardship day for
clergy (and other leaders who can attend) during which decisions
made at the vestry table will be presented on the Lord’s table and
blessed as signs of our commitment to the living Christ. The
commission and I are organizing a day for learning about the
spiritual discipline of giving – and how we can become, as
individuals – and as parish and diocesan leaders – more faithful and
efficient stewards of our abundance.
One of the
pleasant surprises in my new role as bishop is the discovery of how
committed parishioners and congregations have been to the discipline
of giving. Several years ago, St. Paul’s Church in Englewood
received a sizable bequest from the estate of a longtime
parishioner. The vestry tithed 10 percent of that gift to the
diocese – for the purpose of supporting initiatives in
congregations have responded in similar fashion over the years: All
Saints, Hoboken; St. Peter’s, Clifton; St. Agnes and St. Paul’s,
East Orange; Atonement, Fair Lawn; Christ Church, Teaneck; Grace
Church, Westwood. And more and more people have joined a growing
movement of faithful stewards – from every income level – who are
making provisions in their wills to bequeath a portion of their
estates (10, 25, sometimes 50 percent) to institutions, including
their church, that are committed to doing God’s work in the world.
need to give – by freely sharing the money we have – is one
critically important way that we can be co-creators of God’s
unfolding creation. Money directed to our most important commitments
nourishes our souls – and our world.
I invite you to
gather with God at the table.
+Mark M. Beckwith