June 23 was Church Vitality & Stewardship Day in the Diocese of Virginia. On that day, the Diocese conducted a set of stewardship workshops designed to help Virginia congregations use “the gifts God gives us to do the work God calls us to do.” Held at historic Aquia Church near Fredricksburg, the meeting was presided over by Bishop Shannon Johnston, and Bishops Susan Goff and Bob Ihloff and largely orchestrated by Julie Simonton, Director of Congregational Development and Stewardship for the Diocese. It was both an inspiring and useful exploration of the modern Church’s role in society and the ways in which it can be more effective in serving the needs of parishioners while it is also securing its own financial and operational future. The information shared at Aquia about annual and proportional giving, bequests and related financial instruments, endowments, and the communications and other opportunities that technology affords us will benefit Trinity Church and help us leverage the skills of our own talented parishioners and the experiences of other churches to enable Trinity to attain new and higher goals and commitments.
Meanwhile, Trinity’s Stewardship Committee has been active in reassessing what can be done to strengthen connections among the congregation and investigating how to strengthen Trinity’s budget and provide the support that enables Trinity to care for and serve its members and the larger community. In that spirit, the Committee and the Vestry met in Cox Hall with Julie Simonton on June 11. It was clearly an eye-opening conversation that ranged over a number of important aspects of stewardship and how Trinity’s message can be made more apparent and relevant to parishioners of all ages and to people in the region. The Cox Hall meeting generated new spirit and enthusiasm and a number of proposals for action that we will evaluate over the summer. Julie has assured us it will not be her last trip to Trinity. But, the job is now ours to undertake. We would absolutely WELCOME additional ideas from our Genesis readers – consider this YOUR invitation.
These two meetings have set the stage for future decisions about how to freshen up our annual giving requests, make planned giving easier, and improve the Church’s long-term financial outlook in order to enhance outreach, music, congregational care, and to do God’s work as He gives us to see it. The Diocese’s annual motto – NOW into the World! – captures that spirit. As Bishop Goff told us in the context of “changing the verb” in pursuit of our mission in this time of change and uncertainty: focus on what there is to “gain” by change and innovation, not on what is “lost”; instead of asking people to “come” to church, be willing to “go” where the need is; instead of saying I “have” a church, “be” the church; instead of trying to “survive” be willing to let old ways “die” when the need to modernize our Church requires it -- while maintaining our commitment to Christ and each other, of course. That’s both a challenging and an optimistic message. It’s about everyone at Trinity being its steward.
Stewardship Chair 2018