Stewardship of Treasure
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroys, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroy, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." Matthew 6:19-21
We have a five-week Stewardship of Treasure renewal process at St. Thomas More, which we will describe in detail later. We also handle the Archbishop's Catholic Appeal (ACA), which funds diocesan programs. The Stewardship of Treasure component of our program also coordinates the Building Fund campaigns after the fundraising company leaves the premises. In 1994, we built a new school and shortly after, expanded it. The project cost close to $12M. Our fundraiser brought in $1.1M and the Office of Stewardship raised another $1.5M by a combined effort with our Stewardship of Treasure weekends. We paid off the new school, however, mostly through the offertory collection, which continues to come in weekly or monthly.
Please note however, in 2006 we have embarked on another $12M capital fund campaign, using the principles of stewardship and the jubilee gift. Father Andrew has used this method very effectively in his previous parish, which has practiced stewardship as a way of life for decades.
What is a jubilee gift? The word "jubilee" is a biblical word. It is found in the Book of Leviticus (Chapters 25 and 27) and once in the Book of Numbers (Chapter 36:4). In Isaiah 61:1-2, jubilee year is the "year of the Lord's favor.' The word refers to the sacred practices that are still observed every fifty years. Jubilee is used in the Bible in a tithing and stewardship sense. In Leviticus, God tells us that once a week there should be a day of rest. One of every seven days is the Sabbath. God also commands the Israelites that there should be a Sabbath year. Every seven years they are to let their fields rest. The Jubilee Year signifies seven years of Sabbath Years. Seven times seven is forty-nine; so, in the fiftieth year we are to have a super Sabbath Year, the Jubilee Year, which means freedom for slaves, rest for the land and release of debts of the poor.
When we ask people to make a commitment, we encourage them to start with a small amount first, and if they never made a commitment before, we ask them to start with 1% or 2% of their annual income. Then we ask those who made any kind of commitment to make half of a tithe or 5%. At the Renewal, we ask those who make half a tithe to make a full tithe. Some people found out that they weren't worse off, but in fact, were even better off, so they make a full tithe. We emphasize that the giving is out of gratitude for the many blessings from God. That is the motivation for giving.
While we don't usually publish the weekly collection (so as not to attract robberies), we publish the results of our pledges in the bulletin and thank all participants. We might say that 20% have already pledged some amount, and then we ask others to pledge, reminding them that they still have time to make a commitment to support the parish. Newcomers receive pledge forms in the newcomer packet.
At St. Thomas More we monitor the level of giving and number of participants during the entire campaign so that we are able to compare our progress from year to year. Some parishes, such as Spirit of Christ in Arvada, Colorado do not monitor the commitment cards. Rather they are kept in a receptacle in full view of parishioners all year long, until their next annual renewal.