Stewardship in the Time of Covid

By Teresa Angle-Young, CcNet

How do you ask for money at a time like this when people are losing income, fighting illness, and the economy is the worst since the Great Depression? And yet, the church needs money (among other things) to do ministry? 

In my coaching with one Episcopal community in the Indianapolis area, we worked hard to pivot from a standard stewardship plan to something appropriate for this unusual time. We gave deep consideration and prayer to be sensitive to the turmoil and deep grief the pandemic has caused in the lives of the congregation. How do you celebrate in the midst of illness, death, job loss, and a collective depression? 

We leaned heavily on the Pauline scriptures and the reminder that for a Christian, there is joy and contentment in all things. Then we landed on our theme: Hallelujah, Anyway: Unexpected Times, Unexpected Faith

In this time of pandemic, facing the unexpected and the uncertain, we rejoice in Christ anyway. The inspiration came from Anne Lamott’s book, Hallelujah, Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, a book that will be distributed to the congregation and around which small group studies will be formed. These groups will be both virtual and in person with social distancing protocols in place (outside, in driveways and cul-de-sacs), and each unit, be it family, couple, or single, will be asked to bring their own snacks and chairs and stay 10 ft. apart. 

We hope this spurs your imagination about what you might do in your own stewardship season. The Rev. Dr. Gray Lesesne, missioner at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, and his leadership team has graciously granted permission for us to post the entire plan. May it bless you.

2021 Good Samaritan Episcopal Church Stewardship Plan

Theme: Hallelujah, Anyway: Unexpected Times, Unexpected Faith

Summary: Even with all of the challenges 2020 has posed to us and to our world, the people of Good Sam’s remain strong and resilient. In spite of many obstacles and detours, many surprises and distractions, we are embracing a position of gratitude, which is at the core of our faith, with “Hallelujah, Anyway” as our theme and song. 

September

Invite sign-ups for Driveway Groups,

order books and Stewardship Kits materials

October

October 3: 20 Good Samaritans (including kids) to record “Gratitude moments” on videos to use throughout the stewardship season, using one of these prompts: I say Hallelujah, Anyway to 2020 because…My/Our commitment to Good Sam’s in 2021 is in celebration of…We are grateful for…

These video prompts go live the week of October 12.

Gray preaches sermon series for four weeks: Hallelujah, Anyhow: Faith, Even When It Doesn’t Make Sense

Four Driveway Study Groups read and discuss Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah, Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

Week of October 19: work on advanced commitments from Bishop’s Committee, lead givers

Week of October 26: Stewardship Kits arrive on people’s doorsteps, including: 2021 personalized Commitment to Giving card, Good Sam’s branded face masks & hand sanitizer, Coloring pages for families with children/markers, Gratitude journals (from Dollar Tree), 5 blank cards with stamped envelopes – ask people to send notes of gratitude and/or encouragement to people that could use a good word in this trying time 

November

Sunday, November 1: All Saints Sunday/Festival of Gratitude

If in person: we follow Consecration Sunday model and have people bring forward gifts to altar

If virtual: we invite people to do a “drive-by” Parade of Gratitude where they drop off pledge cards and receive a blessing/surprise (dessert for later) AND have an option for e-giving

November 2-22: Followups

November 2: Initial follow up letter from the stewardship team

November 9:  Phone message from a member of the leadership team

November 16: Post card reminder and check-in

November 22: Final letter of gratitude, always with the reminder that if their circumstances have changed, the church is ready to offer support 

You can learn more about Good Samaritan at http://www.churchthatserves.org and on Facebook at “churchthatserves.”

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