Sunday, November 26, 2017
Ephesians 1:15-23 and Stewardship

Ephesians 1:15-23: I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

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The service began with a presentation on Stewardship lead by Warden Ken Andrews. Ken urged everyone to work together to achieve budget for 2017 (current projection is a $22,000.00 shortfall in offerings). Linking to that, we look forward to 2018-2019 and beyond. My way of looking at stewardship is to turn it upside down from the norm. How you fund ministry should be the last step in the process. I would suggest there are three things we need to look at (most likely there will be multiple levels of discussion in all three cases) as we try to craft a vision and this follows from the two questions I asked on day one and will continue to ask during my tenure.

Why does St. James Westminster exist? Why do you believe what you believe? Our first step is to look outward. What ministry should we present in the community? What is our community? Wortley Village, the city, the deanery, the diocese, the country? Perhaps most accurately, all of God’s creation.

So what are the programs we should offer? We have a community breakfast, multiple offerings around poverty, work on Indigenous relationships, refugee programs and the list goes on. Is it enough? Should we partner with Primates World Relief and Development Fund, the Food Bank, St. Paul’s Social Services and other organizations? Once we have dealt with these questions we turn to Evangelism.

Now I also have a different view of evangelism to the norm. What I’m asking here is how we equip the saints who are here and those who will join. Preaching, teaching, education, conferences, spirituality: all of these are crucial to set us up to grow. Far and away the best way to do evangelism is to get the people who are part of us so excited about what we are doing that they will invite friends and family to join in making a difference.

The third element is the building and facilities. You need to have a place from which you do (well at least start) ministry. But facilities need to take their place in ministry strategy and the costs must be in line to allow all of the vision to go forward. I have known churches that could seat 400 people, with huge parish halls and a congregation of 25 people. Once the bills for the building were paid, there was nothing left and thus no ministry and inevitably, the church closed.

Once we have our minds around the three steps, and holding in tension the two questions, we are prepared to deal with how we fund the vision. If those in the community cannot afford to fund the vision they must say so and the process goes back to the drawing board, starting with step one. Cuts would need to be made in all areas until the vision and the finances can meet.

This process belongs to the entire community. Everyone must take part. There is a process available to us that, with consultation, I hope to present to Vestry and gather a group to work on a vision.

At this point, I would invite you to re-read the Epistle – Ephesians 1:15-23. I think this reading points to God’s call to us to understand that we are blessed to be a blessing to others.

The Rev. Canon Keith Nethery