Fall 2014 Stewardship Commission Meeting
JOHNSTOWN, PA -- The Diocesan Stewardship Commission met in Johnstown on September 30, 2014. The meeting was hosted by His Grace, Bishop Gregory and Father Frank P. Miloro, Diocesan Chancellor.
Father Frederick Watson, Commission Chairman, noted in his opening comments that approximately one fourth of parishes have not yet appointed Stewardship Coordinators. He also reported that the Survey of Parish Stewardship Education and Practices has been completed and returned to the Commission by only approximately half of the parishes.
On a more positive note, and with the blessings of His Grace, three additional members were appointed to the Commission. They are Daniel Hromyak of St. John the Baptist of Hermitage, PA; Barbara Knighton of St. Michael’s, Binghamton, PA; and Andrew Podolak of Nativity of our Lord in Manassas, VA.
The Commission has received and responded to several requests from parishes for assistance with developing plans for growing their stewardship of Time, Talent and Treasure. Representatives of the Commission have recently visited parishes in Binghamton and Corning, New York; Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Taylor, Pennsylvania and Manassas, Virginia. Visits are scheduled for Elizabeth, New Jersey and Hawk Run, Pennsylvania.
In addition, Father Frederick recently led a Stewardship Conference for the parishes of the Youngstown Deanery at the request of Fr. Ken Bachofsky. The success of this Conference has convinced the Commission that its on-site educational support can be carried out more effectively at the deanery, rather than the parish level. Each deanery will be offered a choice of dates to schedule a Conference for the clergy and lay leadership of its parishes, and the Stewardship Commission will provide Conference leaders. By using this approach, the Commission will be able to offer direct support to representatives of the eighty-plus parishes of our Diocese in a more timely and efficient manner.
The Parish Stewardship Surveys that have been completed and returned to date have been summarized and some preliminary analysis has been done. The results indicate an acute need in many of the responding parishes for a theme-based annual stewardship program that combines education with a straightforward and practical plan that can be implemented easily in the local parishes. Material designed to help meet this need (Resource I: Stewardship Education and Resource II: Implementing Stewardship in the Parish) are available here. Each parish was also provided these documents in hard copy at the 2013 Sobor. Supplemental material for Implementing Stewardship in the Parish is currently being prepared, including forms and detailed instructions for their use that can simplify and accelerate the process in the parish.
The Survey results also indicate that some parishes are taking advantage of stewardship program resources available through the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. These can be found here, and the Stewardship Commission encourages the use of these resources as alternatives. They are revised annually to address different themes, each relating to Stewardship as a Way of Life.
The Survey reveals a need in the parishes to focus on stewardship education for key leaders, and to discover how good stewardship can reduce and ultimately eliminate reliance on fundraising events to finance essential parish operations. Fundraising income that comes from outside the parish can then be used to implement or expand ministries that benefit both the parish and the community beyond the parish. This will be brought about by a shift away from ‘dues’ and toward proportional giving. Bishop Gregory acknowledges that this will take time and hard work, but this shift is supported by Holy Scripture. And where it has been put into practice, it has borne much fruit. His Grace remarked that only in this way can we transition to a place where “What we want to do” is the driver of the budget, rather than the budget determining "What we can do."
A seminar on Orthodox Christian Stewardship will be included in the curriculum at Christ the Saviour Seminary this spring, and coming soon for our Diocesan youth is a new collection of Tales of a Mouse Named Steward. Each Tale will have study guides appropriate for elementary, middle and high school age students.
If you feel your parish could benefit from some help planning for its growth in the stewardship of its time, talent and treasure, please contact Fr. Frederick Watson.