In all the media hype and soundbytes that came out of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church this month, not one of them (as far as I saw) noted this very significant fact: The overwhelming majority of resolutions passed by overwhelming majorities. Probably 80-90% of the resolutions passed or failed clearly on a voice vote. We didn’t need to resort to the next steps: holding up our green (“yes”) or red (“no”) cards nor use the electronic voting machines that would tabulate each vote. Most of our actions related to the mission and ministry of our life as the Episcopal Church and to our witness in the world, and most received overwhelming consensus.
Of course, the media lives to report on controversy, so they reported on things like our authorization of same-sex blessings, our non-decision on the Anglican Covenant, and so on.
I serve on the Stewardship Committee in my parish. We’re not just about the “annual pledge drive,” but about year-round stewardship activities. Several of our members have attended the TENS conferences, and we are getting better about weaving stewardship themes into the daily life of our parish.
One of the resolutions that came before General Convention was #A088, “Set Expectations for Steward Leaders.” You can find the resolution text and explanation here. The resolution was put forward by the Standing Commission and Stewardship and Development, and you can read background on their work on pages 529-530 of the Blue Book. Resolution A088 was one of those that passed easily on a voice vote.
I will be taking this resolution to the next meeting of our parish Stewardship Committee, for it is a powerful document. It sets out expectations of those lay and ordained persons who are “steward leaders.” It calls us to “Proclaim a Theology of Abundance and Spirituality of Money,” to “Teach Biblical and Theological Principles of Stewardship,” to “Engage and Critique Culture,” and to “Embrace the Interconnected Relationships between all Persons and Creation.” Under each of those main points, it suggests more specific ways we should commit ourselves more deeply to stewardship and lead our parishes into a deeper understanding of Christian stewardship. It calls us to some very challenging activities – asking that we speak personally about our understanding of stewardship, “articulate the tension between the current consumer culture and following Christ,” and “speak to the impact of our lifestyles on all of God’s creation.”
If you want to help your congregation deepen its understanding of stewardship, I commend this resolution to you. Ponder it. Share it. See what you and your congregation can do to live into it. And please don’t rely only on my synopsis here; please read the resolution here, then think about how you and your congregation might live more deeply into Gospel stewardship. I look forward to doing that here in my parish.