My father was the perpetual treasurer of a small Episcopal church in Minnesota. I grew up hearing firsthand the frustrations encountered by the treasurer of this parish and the meaning of stewardship. That term was not used. "Supporting the Church" was the terminology at that time. I remember well hearing my father say, "if we do not support the church, the church will not be there to support us when we need support." It was like a mantra to him, and as a result, I have pledged at each of the many churches our family has attended throughout the years.
I understood at a young age that church building maintenance, salaries for the ministers, diocesan assessments, and supplies were budgeted. No one ever mentioned outreach however, but I know that the women of the church gave a great deal of their time and their culinary talents when the budgeted funds were insufficient to cover all the needs or to support any new projects. Parishioners who had treasure (there were very few) did share as the need arose. By the Grace of God the little parish stayed viable until a few years ago. Then treasure, time, and talent disappeared. Could this have been due to the lack of focus on outreach and stewardship and too much focus on budgets, supplies, and assessments? I am personally relieved that stewardship and outreach at St. Mark's is alive and well, and I am grateful for the blessings that do flow to those who give freely of their time, talent, and treasure.