Friday, June 30, 2017

Planned Stewardship at St. Vladimir Church - Making a Conscious Choice about Supporting our Parish Family

This is a pamphlet that we have posted on our parish web site and which is available at the parish church, but it is important that we challenge ourselves in this regard, and that we have a continuing conversation in this regard, so I am including this here in the hopes that more people will have the opportunity to read it by doing so. You can find this in PDF format on our web site in English and Russian.

A more in-depth treatment of this subject can be found here, also in English and Russian.

Please share your thoughts here, by sending us an email, or by using our feedback form. And if you have questions and don't want to ask them publicly please send us an email - we are happy to discuss this with any of our parish family any time!

Fr. Gregory

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)

St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Church has always, throughout its 35+ year history, been well supported by its parishioners.  This is something that we can be proud of and thankful for.  However, this is also something that we often do not think very much about.  We know that when we are in church on Sunday there will be some sort of collection, but we don’t usually think very much about this, either before the collection or afterwards.  We see this as just a part of going to church. However, stewardship, how we use what God has given us, is something that we should consider and something that we should plan. 

The reasons for stewardship are numerous, and no doubt, you have heard many, if not all of them. Sometimes we are told that we should give because the parish needs more money for next year’s budget. Other times we are told we should give at least as we pay for a newspaper subscription or our cable bill – as if God's Church is equivalent to other “entertainment” choices we make.  Finally, we are sometimes told that we should give because the parish needs something (a new church, vestments for the clergy, a new hall, etc.).  None of these reasons are illegitimate, for in many parishes, sometimes including ours, these things are true.  However, stewardship is a spiritual question, and not a material one. We should give to God out of love, and for no other reason. In the beginning God created man out of love, He gave us our personal existence out of love, He sent His only-begotten Son to us out of love so that we could again gain the paradise that we threw away by the actions of our first forefather Adam.  Love is the reason that God created us all, and this is the reason that we should give back to God. “God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) Thus we see that our reason WHY (love of God) we give helps us to determine HOW MUCH we give, for if God gave us so much, can we not give Him back just a little of the bounty with which He has blessed us?  The purest motive for our stewardship is to give to God because we have been given to by Him.  That is, in gratitude for His great love towards us.

We urge you to make stewardship part of your family budget – to actively plan what you give to St. Vladimir's just as you plan other family expenses. We further urge you to keep in mind that we give to God out of love – and that He asks us to give to His Church just a small amount (some set percentage of our net income: ten percent according to the Old Testament – even more than this according to St. John Chrysostom) of all that He has given us. The Lord, having given us all that we have, generously allows us to keep all the rest! Perhaps starting with ten percent would impossible. That is understandable – this is a major paradigm shift for most of us. But it is spiritually helpful to set a percentage for ourselves and do our best to stick with that for a year, and then try to increase that the next year. When we tithe the Lord blesses us many times more than the amount we give (see Malachi 3:8-10)!

If you have any questions about stewardship in general at St. Vladimir’s, or questions about the best ways to give (recurring donations benefit the parish the most) please contact Fr. Gregory, our Starosta, Jack (Alexey) Mitchell, or the other member of our Parish Council Stewardship Education Team, Leta (Ksenia) Nikulshina. ~ ~ 734-475-4590

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