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Siblings in Christ,
Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Redeemer and Hope Jesus Christ!
We are coming up on the end of our stewardship campaign for this year, 2022. Thank you first of all for the ways you have supported the mission and ministry of Yadkinville United Methodist Church. We have been able to do tremendous things over the past year because of you! We have grown our digital reach to 90-100 people every week online alone, we have tackled difficult conversations that expose fault lines in the denomination and have done it respectfully and with love, we handed out doughnuts to over 500 children at YES welcoming them back from summer vacation, welcomed 100+ children to a special field trip in the pumpkin patch, supported NETworX, and grew our small groups. I am looking ahead excitedly at all the possibilities that 2023 brings.
I write to you today to remind us all why we do a stewardship campaign in the first place. In years past, we have included other types of stewardship in our year end campaign. This year we separated out financial stewardship from stewardship of time and talents. Not because one is important and the other isn’t, but because they both deserve their own time of discussion and consideration. We are spending these few weeks in October and November looking at our financial stewardship and we will spend January talking about discipleship and stewardship in areas of Worship, Devotion, Compassion, and Justice.
Our goal as a church is to make disciples, both by helping people come to faith in Christ and by helping each and everyone of us grow deeper in relationship to Christ. We do a Stewardship Campaign at the end of each year to help church leadership plan for next year. We do a Stewardship Campaign because it gives each of us the opportunity to think about how we are using our financial resources for the glory of God.
One of John Wesley’s sermons is titled “The Use of Money.” He lays out what become three rules for Methodists around money.
Gain (Earn) all you can
Save all you can
Give all you can
In the sermon Wesley gives particularly nuanced instructions with each rule. For example, Wesley says to gain all you can… unless in the process you harm your body or mind. Gain all you can… unless it means exploiting or harming your neighbor. When Wesley says, “Save all you can” its not an instruction to put everything into a savings account, money market, CD, or other investment vehicle. “Save all you can” is an instruction to not be frivolous with our resources and to not descend into wasteful living. The second rule is closely connected to one of Wesley’s daily questions from his Oxford days; “Do I pray about the money I spend?”
When introducing the third rule, “Give all you can,” Wesley writes “But let not any man imagine that he has done anything barely by going thus far, by gaining and saving all he can, if he were to stop here. All this is nothing if a man go not forward, if he does not point all this at a farther end.” For Wesley’s gaining/earning and saving mandates are not ends to themselves; our focus in everything we do as Christians is towards God’s kingdom.
I would ask each of you to take this stewardship campaign as an opportunity to ask yourself how the entirety of your life points to the reality of the coming of God’s kingdom. How can you dedicate more of yourself to the purposes of God? While tithing has a biblical foundation, Wesley’s concern for Methodists is that we give “ALL that we CAN,” “be it more or less” than a tithe, so that we “may give a good account of your stewardship when ye can be no longer stewards.”
I know that there are a lot of places deserving of your financial support. I hope that Yadkinville UMC and our mutual commitment to making disciples and serving our community is one of them. Our gifts are physical testimony to our hope that Jesus Christ’s love extends to all the world and through Christ we can find reconciliation and new life in the midst of a fractured world.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Jonathan Gaylord