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Generosity on the Highway

Generosity on the Highway

General
Once, when I was a penny poor student, I was driving on the highway and had a tire blow out on my car. The car turned 180 degrees so that I was facing oncoming traffic in the left hand lane. Fortunately no one was immediately behind me and, stunned as I was, I was able to pull over to the side of the road. I was terrified, miles from school and miles from home. I was also miles from an exit! The shoulder was narrow, and a sheer rock face made it impossible to turn my car around or even exit the vehicle without putting myself into oncoming traffic lanes. I had no phone, no credit card, and less than $20 in my pocket. My situation looked hopeless! A passing…
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An Annual Congregational Stewardship Emphasis: Growing Faithful Stewards

An Annual Congregational Stewardship Emphasis: Growing Faithful Stewards

General
Each year First Christian Church in Gibson City, Illinois conducts an annual financial stewardship emphasis. While we are certain there are many reasons not to embark on such an adventure, we do anyway. This emphasis specifically provides an environment for growing our giving to the ministry and mission supported by our operating fund. Our emphasis begins with three foundational affirmations: Growing Stewards Rather than increasing stewardship or increasing giving, the primary focus of our annual emphasis is to grow stewards. R. Scott Rodin, in Stewards in the Kingdom, acknowledges  John Calvin’s phrase “framing our lives.” More important than what we have and what we give is who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ engaged in ministry and mission. A Culture of Generosity Within and through the congregation we have endeavored…
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Cast Your Bread

Cast Your Bread

General
When my great-grandmother came to Canada from Russia in the 1920s she was widowed and destitute. She remembered when she and her husband and owned vast tracts of agricultural lands in the old country, lands given to the Mennonites decades earlier by Catherine the Great. There they enjoyed great prosperity. Understanding their wealth as a gift from God they needed to share with others, my great-grandparents provided substantial support for any number of enterprises, including mission work and education. Then came the chaos and fear of the First World War and the ensuing Russian revolution. In the end, the Mennonite people were driven out of their homes and everything was taken from them. Fearing for their lives and desiring religious freedom, they came to Canada to rebuild their communities. Being…
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Rising from the Ashes: Financial Campaign Gives St. Paul’s United Church Hope for Its Future

Rising from the Ashes: Financial Campaign Gives St. Paul’s United Church Hope for Its Future

General
St. Paul’s United Church in Milton, Ontario, is a strong faith community with a proud heritage. With its towering presence in historic downtown Milton, St. Paul’s has been a gathering point for the community for more than 120 years. But a devastating fire to the church building in 2010, along with badly-needed renovations in their four-decades-old Christian Education Centre, caused the St. Paul’s congregation to struggle to find God’s direction for their future. Through conversations with Barbara Fullerton, then stewardship development coordinator for The United Church of Canada, St. Paul’s leadership learned of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s Capital Campaign Network. The Network, comprised of capital campaign consultants who primarily serve congregations and other religious groups, has a unique advantage of understanding congregational culture. St. Paul’s fundraising group interviewed Network consultant…
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New “Found Faithful” Stewardship Materials are Available for Purchase

New “Found Faithful” Stewardship Materials are Available for Purchase

General
"Found Faithful", based on 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, is the theme for just-released stewardship resources published by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. ESC offers resources that together provide a creative, comprehensive, and thought-provoking approach to encourage generous giving and faithful stewardship. "Found Faithful" includes four sub-themes: called to be faithful, faithful in little, faithful with much, and faithful with all.  Volume 15 of the Giving: Growing Faithful Stewards in Your Congregation magazine includes the lead article "Balaam's Dilemma" written by Dr. James Forbes, noted author, scholar, and preacher voted one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English speaking world in 1996 and twice named by Ebony magazine as one of the U.S.'s greatest Black preachers. Giving is packed with many more outstanding articles that uplift generous giving and faithful stewardship…
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The Joy of Giving

The Joy of Giving

General
The culture lies. It tells the people in our pews that the most important human need is to be loved. Christ reminds us that equally important is our need to give love. Consider the flutter of anxiety that comes whenever we give a gift on an occasion that matters. It can take forever from the moment we place that gift in the receiver's hands until it is opened. We hold our breaths for a response. If the gift isn't liked, it hurts. If the gift delights, then we're more delighted than the receiver! There are reasons for this vulnerability. Some are rooted in our endless insecurities. But the basic reason that gift-giving makes us so vulnerable is that every gift we give is a symbol of our love. It's a…
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Registration Opens for North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy

Registration Opens for North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy

General
Online registration for this event is now closed. If you are interested in attending, please call The Ecumenical Stewardship Center at 855-278-4ESC (4372). In the gospel story of the loaves and fishes, a simple meal in an unsophisticated setting becomes a bountiful feast: not because of elaborate preparations or an extensive menu, but because of the power of God and the faith of the participants. No matter how you interpret the story, generous giving, faithful stewardship, and trust in God are the elements we find at this extensive table. The 2013 North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy (NACCP) will explore how faith communities can Set the Table for a Generous Culture in the context in which we find ourselves today. The North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy, sponsored by the…
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Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation Re-released as a Digital Resource

Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation Re-released as a Digital Resource

General
To be a good steward is the call for individual Christians and for congregations, regardless of size. Congregations have a responsibility to teach, inspire, and model good stewardship. Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation is a stewardship resource especially created with small congregations in mind. Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation was written by Clark Hargus, Disciples of Christ pastor, and has been used successfully by small membership congregations throughout North America for more than two decades. Originally titled Stewardship in the Small Membership Rural Congregation, the title and text have been edited in this digital release to recognize that small congregations exist in a variety of geographic contexts and to reflect today's communications options. With more than 30 pages of materials, Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation is packed…
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2012 Leadership Seminar Registration

2012 Leadership Seminar Registration

General
Online registration for Generosity in Emerging Generations is now closed. If you are interested in attending, please call ESC at 855-278-4ESC (4372). Are emerging generations generous? How do they make decisions about generosity? How do they share their ideas about generosity with each other? Does God have anything to do with it? Generosity in Emerging Generations will explore these questions and more as attendees learn from and interact with our plenary speakers Gabe Lyons and Peggy Kendall. Generosity in Emerging Generations will take place at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel November 28-29, 2012.       Gabe Lyons is the author of The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America and the founder of Q, a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common…
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What Do I Owe? Managing the Gifts God Gives You

What Do I Owe? Managing the Gifts God Gives You

Devotional, Resource Review, Stewardship
by Rolf Bouma Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-59255-474-4 How can we say thank you to God? Campus pastor Rolf Bouma shows how in his new 118-page devotional study guide, What Do I Owe? Managing the Gifts God Gives You. People tend to think of stewardship primarily in financial terms, but as Bouma demonstrates, money is only one of the gifts God gives us to manage. The book’s five main study themes include: “Thinking It Through,” “Stewarding Time,” “Stewarding Money,” “Stewarding Creation,” and “The Challenges of Stewardship.” What Do I Owe? can be used as a personal devotional or a group study guide. It includes five daily readings a week for five weeks. The readings correspond with five discussion guides with opening and closing activities, Bible study and reflection…
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