It’s hard to believe, but I have been serving in this call as the Director for Stewardship of the Nebraska Synod for two years now. Where has all the time gone? To put it simply, this is a dream call– one where I serve alongside congregations and others wanting to go deeper in their sense of stewardship, in helping explore the many ways we are all stewards of all that God entrusts, including stewards of God’s on-going story. The stories I am entrusted with are gifts.
As you might expect, there are also days when serving in this role, where all I can say is, I’m grateful and humbled to be a part of God’s work in this way. Today’s post is such an example.
About a week and a half ago, I had one of those dream days. Perhaps you have experienced days like this too? A day where a few of your worlds intersect and align. A day where you feel the palpable energy of others, and see learning, ideas, and excitement bubble up.
On Friday May 18th, about 75 stewardship leaders- pastors, deacons, parish ministry associates, members of congregations, etc., gathered for a full day of stewardship thinking, learning, and conversations at Camp Carol Joy Holling. It was a day led by a former professor of mine, and ever since a stewardship mentor, colleague, and friend, the Rev. Chick Lane, and a dear friend from seminary and colleague, Grace Duddy Pomroy.
To put it simply, that day quite possibly might be the professional highlight of my time in this role as the Director for Stewardship so far. I don’t say that to “toot my own horn.” I say that, to express just my overwhelming gratitude for everyone’s willingness to be there, their engagement, and desire to go deeper and grow in their understanding of stewardship. There will be more gatherings like this to come!
Just a few of the insights and highlights from the day for me, included:
- Conversation and thinking about “the why.” Why church? Why stewardship? Why does this matter? Sometimes we jump into the details, without reflecting back on the all important bigger story and picture that needs to be told and shared.
- There was good discussion around stewardship and giving perspectives across generations, and some of the trends that recent data has found- regarding similarities and differences among giving patterns.
Stories were shared by all about stewardship in their midst, and examples of it in their own lives. Everyone was given a chance to name assumptions up front, and then unpack them, and in essence, perhaps better redefine the more holistic concept of stewardship.
- Perspective was offered about stewardship in different contexts, and its uniqueness within congregations- particularly for rural and suburban settings.
- New friendships were made, with potential longer and deeper conversations and partnerships to have and form going-forward. There might even be some intentional stewardship mentoring opportunities that emerge from this day.
- Watching people’s faces as they learned and gained new insights and ideas, just filled me to the brim with hope and excitement.
- I lost count of the number of colleagues and friends who met Caroline for the first time, and expressed and shared just their authentic joy with us.
Coming up this summer, there will be lots of intentional follow-up with each participant, to see how together we might grow in our sense of stewardship ministries. I’m excited for these conversations, ideas, and work.
But for today, I’m just grateful that it all came together and for the response of all those who participated. I’m grateful for Bishop Brian Maas and his attention to be there all day, and participate too. It says a lot when the bishop makes it a priority. I’m grateful for my friends Chick and Grace and for their willingness to come and share their wisdom and joy in Nebraska. I’m grateful for all of my synod staff colleagues who helped make the day possible, and for all of my colleagues at Camp Carol Joy Holling for their hospitality in hosting. And I’m grateful, two years in, that God and the Holy Spirit saw fit to lead Allison and me (and now Caroline) here to Nebraska.
For future such events, be sure to check out the Nebraska Synod Stewardship website. You can find some of the resources from the day here, and all of the information you might want and need on the book and resources around Embracing Stewardship by Chick and Grace here. And for more pictures of the day, check out the Nebraska Synod on Facebook.