Tending the Garden The 2024 Trinity Pledge Campaign
What comes to your mind when you hear the word stewardship? The word that comes to my mind is nurturing. I think about stewardship as investing time and money into helping the church to grow. Tending to a church is similar to tending a garden. When I say grow, I don’t just mean to grow, as in to grow in numbers, how to get more people in the pews. Sure, I would love more people, but I also mean the growth of each member, emotional growth, spiritual growth, growth of relationships, growth of ministries. There are a lot of ways to grow.
The physical growth of church members often catches my attention. When I see grown people that I have known since they arrived at church in an infant carrier it shocks me how swiftly time passes. I see the aging of parishioners that I have known for decades. I appreciate how I have gotten to know these people better because we have all grown together over the years. We’ve attended the same church services, sang hymns together, prayed together and attended church suppers together. Growth of the church needs nurturing and tending to, just like a garden.
I attended a talk about stewardship recently, the speaker told us about how stewardship can be done differently. At their church they looked at stewardship through a different lens. He told us how they asked people what brought them to church? What feeds them when they are there? What missions did they enjoy working on? Then they focused on growing those things. They invested funds in those projects. It took a long time. And yes, they had to request pledges, and it was still stewardship, but people gave enthusiastically because it was growing the church and the ministries in ways that brought them joy. They focused on the growth of the activities that connected people to the church. Their church numbers did grow. But more importantly, happiness grew, and worship grew and their outreach to the community grew.
Gardeners have the bounty of the harvest in Autumn, but the investment of time and energy in order to have that bounty is necessary all spring and summer long. In the winter, gardeners plan their gardens. They have maps and records of what grew well last year and what didn't. They plan for next Autumn’s harvest. Stewardship is like planning the garden. It is deciding what seeds we want to plant and what plants we want to nourish and protect. We need to plan for the costs of maintaining our church, its programs and missions, salaries and expenses. Gardeners need to weed and prune to make sure the garden can thrive. Churches also have to prune, to let some programs go so that others can get more attention and better funding.
In Matthew 13, the parable tells us about the farmer scattering seeds, some of the seeds fall on a footpath, some on shallow soil with underlying rock and some fall into the thorns. None of these seeds were able to thrive. But the seeds that fell on fertile soil were able to produce spectacular crops. Jesus explains to the disciples that the seeds that fell on good soil represent those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty or even a hundred times as much as had been planted. How do we make sure the soil at Trinity Milford is fertile? How do we assure that the plants/programs receive enough water/funds and sunshine/attention to thrive? Stewardship is part of the answer. When people pledge, the church can plan for growth with a known and dependable income. We can confidently nourish our church. I encourage all of us to listen to God’s word and thoughtfully try to understand God’s will for us.
What brings you to Trinity? What feeds you spiritually? Is there a mission or program that brings you joy? What would you like to see as the harvest next Autumn? Other churches have programs such as “Theology on Tap”, where they meet at a pub once every two weeks and talk about God and how God fits into their life. They interact with people at the pub, they don’t wait for people to come to church. Some churches have groups for young parents, they gather together monthly to share a meal and to share the joys and burdens of raising a family. Some churches have thriving “Good News Gardens” programs where people tend to raised garden beds on the church property, then give away the harvest. And some work with newly arrived migrants with “Human to Human Ministries”. We can plan for new ministries or focus on ones we already have. We have a tremendous impact on the community related to food insecurity with our “Community Meals” program and our Holiday Dinners. I would like to see our music program grow, music is such an amazing way to share in our worship. We have people who enjoy the small group discussion groups, we could plan more of those. We have “Laundry Love”. We can do more Game Nights. We don’t have to do it all. We can add programs and maybe prune some. (Although Covid already did that.) Our stewardship, our management of the church will impact the type of harvest we gather next year.
What brings you joy at Trinity? Is there something from outside of Trinity that you enjoy that we may be able to bring to Trinity? Belonging to a church should be an experience that feeds your soul. Each of us plays a role in tending to the garden that is Trinity. Please prayerfully consider what you can afford to give, make a pledge and let members of the vestry know what kind of growth you would like to see at Trinity in the coming year and what we want our harvest to look like next fall. Tell us about your vision for Trinity in the coming years. Humbly and lovingly,
Mary Johnson and Cindi Scrimgeour - Co-Chairs of the Stewardship committee