Every Sunday we pray the offertory prayer: “Merciful Father, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us – our selves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love. Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Each aspect of this prayer demonstrates the elements of stewardship. First and foremost, our selves, our time and our possessions are gifts from God. We in turn pass on those gifts by offering our talents, efforts, money and things. He gives graciously to us and we give graciously to others, without obligation and without expectation of something in return. This reality serves as the basis for the vision of Stewardship at Calvary: to emphasize mindful stewardship as a faith practice, based on what He first gave us: our selves, our time and our possessions.

Stewardship Committee members Ed Baker, Tana Fleischer, Sharon Key and Joe Wright, together with Pastor Phil and Pastor Kyle, created a plan to provide year-round awareness and mindfulness of stewardship principles and practices. The concept is to focus, learn and explore stewardship of our selves as given to us by God. The program, titled “With Joy and Thanksgiving”, is based on the ELCA Wholeness Wheel© and includes six theme-based sections: Vocational, Financial, Emotional, Physical, Social/Interpersonal, Intellectual. Each section begins with an Adult Education offering by Pastor Phil or Pastor Kyle and an article in Calvary Caller written by a member of the Stewardship Committee. Brief thought provokers and discussion starters are published weekly in the green bulletin insert for worshippers to contemplate throughout the week.

As part of “With Joy and Thanksgiving”, the Stewardship Committee introduced a new method for engaging and growing in ministry at Calvary. The new method is called the Discipleship Profile and replaced the former “time and talent” sheets. The Discipleship Profile provides every Calvary member an opportunity to express interest and connect with current ministry offerings. The Discipleship Profile also allows every ministry leader to connect with Calvary members. In addition, the Discipleship Profile houses a central list of members’ skills and talents. When ministry leaders are seeking help, they can access this list and contact members who may be able to provide assistance. To date, 164 Calvary members completed a Discipleship Profile.

Based on average worship attendance of approximately 400 people per week, 41% of our active membership completed a Discipleship Profile, representing a three-fold increase over prior year participation! Stewardship Committee members are working actively with Council representatives to connect members and ministries. To ensure new members connect with Calvary’s ministry areas, Ed Baker graciously committed to work with the Council Representative responsible for Membership & Personnel and incorporate the Discipleship Profile into the new member process.

Through the Discipleship Profile, we are connecting several additional members to our loyal group of offering counters. Five counting teams, with assistance from several alternates, faithfully count, report and deposit regular offerings and special fund contributions on a weekly basis. Mary Lorentz serves as the ministry leader for the offering counters and diligently coordinates the counting schedule, resolves any issues that arise and facilitates training for new counters. Calvary’s dedicated and reliable Financial Secretary, Elaine Lang, records every contribution, produces member statements and ensures all contributions are reflected accurately. We recognize and give thanks for the faithful servants of this essential ministry function.

Thank you for giving to Calvary and beyond what He first gave each of us: our selves, our time and our possessions. We are blessed to serve God’s Heart through Human Hands with the faithful people of Calvary.