What is Stewardship?

Stewardship is more than the giving of money in order to meet a church’s budget for the year. Stewardship is a theological statement of belief. It is a way of life based on a belief that we are all the beloved children of God. Therefore, we joyfully give of our time, talent, and treasure in order to participate in God’s Kingdom being lived here and now.

A practice of pledging models the values of our faith and demonstrates our commitment to deepening our relationship with God through active support of God’s ministry through the church. It provides an opportunity to discipline ourselves and educate our children. As a spiritual exercise, pledging allows us to reflect on the gifts God has given so that we all may use those gifts for the purpose of ministry, mission, faith formation, Christian fellowship, and worship of the church.

Dear First Presbyterian Church Family,

“The most unholy hour of the entire week is that hour before leaving for church.” I have heard my mother utter those words far too many times to count. And she did so for good reason. As one of three boys, myself – and as the father of three boys – I have a decent understanding of the wailing, crying, and gnashing of teeth that goes into dressing, grooming, and feeding a young family, all while desperately trying to make it to church on time on Sunday morning. But while it’s never easy to perform this Herculean task, there was one year that Cole Milner made this hour particularly trying.

During our second year in New Orleans, Cole, a bright and curious young first-grader, had begun learning about coins in his class at school, a lesson that conveniently coincided with our church’s annual stewardship campaign. So, as not to let this fruitful moment of teaching pass us, Carrie and I decided it might be “fun” to speak with Cole about giving some of his own money to his church each Sunday. After some pondering and prudent accounting of the contents of his piggy bank, Cole decided that he would give one quarter each week. And so, it began.  Each week, as Carrie chaotically ushered the children out to the car, Cole would announce, “BUT I NEED MY QUARTER!” At first, it wasn’t a problem: Cole generally had dug a coin from his bank and laid it on his nightstand the night before, but after several weeks, the quarters were harder and harder to come by. However, each week, when a quarter was recovered, the joy that lit Cole’s face was electric. He found deep pleasure in being able to place his coin in the offering basket in Sunday school or in the offering plate in church. There was unbridled delight at being able to contribute to something bigger than himself. There was joy in his giving.

Without fully intending to, Carrie and I had sown seeds of excitement; we had rooted seeds of faith; we had planted seeds of hope in our young child. Seeds that would need nourishment and tending. Seeds that would need cultivation and support. Seeds that, with proper nurturing, can and will lead to a life led in service to others and in commitment to the church.

Seeds of hope are planted everywhere. Seeds of hope have fallen to the ground without our knowing. Seeds of hope have taken root in the soft soil and weathered the dry and rough terrain. Seeds of hope that, with nourishment and tending, with cultivation and support, with proper nurturing can and will lead to a life led in service to others and in commitment to the church.

And in this year, in the season of stewardship of 2020 – a year that has rocked each and every one of us to our core – we sow seeds. We sow seeds because we know that there is much good that exists, even in much uncertainty. We sow seeds because we believe that there is love, even when our hearts are breaking. We sow seeds because there is hope that rises above the hopelessness, even when our faith feels barren. We sow seeds through our generous gifts: gifts from grateful and gracious hearts; gifts given with poise; gifts given with fierce determination. We give our gifts because we know that there is much to look forward to, that there are many to serve, that there is much work to be done, and that there is a kingdom to build and a calling to heed, and praise God for that!

As you prayerfully consider your pledge this year, consider the seeds that have been sown in the fertile and faithful soil of First Presbyterian Church in years past. Seeds have been sown to proffer sustenance to the hungry and loving-care for the hurting. Seeds have been sown that have fostered inclusion and genuine welcome to those searching for a place to call “home.” Seeds have been sown that have kindled the fire of faith and bolstered a life-giving hope for generations of would-be-disciples. Seeds have been sown that have made music soar, that have let love flourish, and that have driven justice forward. Seeds have been sown that have borne life-giving fruit in this world filled with God’s loving possibilities.

By the steadfast and boundless generosity of our God, the seeds of hope have been planted in this place, in our time, even here among our beloved First Presbyterian Church family. And together, with fervent prayers, the sharing of our time, and the joyful and generous giving of our God-given treasure to the disposal of God’s kingdom, we will see these fruits of the Spirit spring forth once again in abundance. And when they do, we just might begin to appreciate more fully – perhaps even take to heart – what Jesus once said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Indeed, it is…

In hope and faith,

Barrett C. Milner

All are invited to discern how God calls you to serve, through the giving of your time, talents and treasures. Below are copies of this year’s stewardship materials for your consideration. Contact Frances Saralvarez at fsaralvarezfpc@gmail.com with any questions you may have and to let her know your interest in making a pledge.

If you would like to fill out your 2020 pledge card online, please click here!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to make a financial pledge?

What does it mean to make a financial pledge?

A pledge is nothing more than a promise, and in this case, a promise to give. Year after year, we are asked, after prayerful consideration, to resolve what we will give – gifts of time, talent, and treasure – to FPC Oxford.

Why is pledging important?

Why is pledging important?

Pledging is more than writing a check or clicking a box. Pledging is an essential spiritual exercise, allowing each of us to reflect on the gifts God has given us and to show our commitment to using those gifts for the purpose of ministry, mission, faith formation, Christian fellowship, and worship.

It also models to our children the important of making a tangible commitment to our church, and allowing a more fruitful connection to our church family and faith experience.

This year, more than ever, the church is needed for spiritual healing, for missional outreach, and for relational development. And to do these many things, we all must be willing to make a financial pledge to FPC Oxford.

Has the budget for 2021 been completed? And what is it?

Has the budget for 2021 been completed? And what is it?

The Finance Ministry Team is dutifully and prayerfully compiling a budget, which will be voted on by the Session and presented to the congregation at the annual congregational meeting. As in year’s past, we will be examining the areas that we feel are in need of additional resources and those areas from which resources may be shifted. Areas that we would like to see continued to be developed include creating a robust children’s and youth ministry, involving our membership in mission and outreach, and maintaining our standard of excellence in music ministry.

To this end, we will be examining how additional personnel might assist in shaping these great endeavors.

Who should make a financial pledge to the church?

Who should make a financial pledge to the church?

Everyone! We are all members of this great congregation, and it takes the gifts of all to make it what it is. Young and old alike are encouraged to participate. What a wonderful thing it is to know that we are all contributors to the success of our church.

Is my pledge confidential & who do I contact for any questions?

Is my pledge confidential & who do I contact for any questions?

Yes. Pledges are entered by the office administrator and reviewed only by the two elders who serve as the financial secretary and treasurer. Please contact Frances at 234-1757 about any questions you may have.

How much should I pledge?

How much should I pledge?

There are many ways to decide how much to give. The most important thing is that we give in gratitude, remembering all that God has done and continues to do in our lives. As the Apostle Paul tells us, “Each of you must give as you have made up your min, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Remember, this is a biblical practice – dedicating the “first fruits” of our labor right off the top, rather than offering what remains after all other expenses are taken care of.

For many, proportionate giving – giving a set percentage of our income back to God for God’s work – can be very helpful in establishing an amount to give. If you currently do not pledge but contribute by putting money into the Sunday offering plate, you might consider pledging a percentage of that amount this year. If you’ve never tried proportionate giving before, why not start at 2% of your income? If you are already pledging, please consider increasing your pledge 10% for the coming year.

What if I need to change my pledge amount?

What if I need to change my pledge amount?

In order to change a pledge, you simply phone the church office and speak with the office administrator.

What are the different methods for submitting my pledge?

What are the different methods for submitting my pledge?

You may return the pledge card in the stamped pre-addressed envelope, place it in the offering plate or in the locked boxes in the narthex or church office, or you may enter your pledge on the website link.

If my current pledge is set up on bank draft or recurring credit card payment, do I still need to fill out a pledge card?

If my current pledge is set up on bank draft or recurring credit card payment, do I still need to fill out a pledge card?

Yes, please carefully consider what you are called to do in 2021 and complete a new pledge card so we will have an accurate record.

What else am I being asked to consider?

What else am I being asked to consider?

We would like every member to consider how to use their unique gifts and grow in their faith through meaningful involvement at FPC. The pledge card includes the opportunity for you to share your gifts with the various ministry opportunities.