By Lark Madden

A Brief Overview of FRS Stewardship 

Each year at FRS we rely on a core group of intrepid individuals who do the work of organizing and carrying out the Annual Canvass, the Rummage Sale and the Raffle. They focus on raising the funds we need to operate our church and provide services and programming to our Beloved Community.  

The group includes usually includes our Minister and our Business Administrator, our Office Administrator and other staff.  Members of our Finance Committee and a large group of canvassers and Raffle and Rummage volunteers make canvass calls, sell Raffle tickets and clothing. Each year, starting in the fall, a financial budget for the following year is developed, fund raising targets are set and, beginning in March, the canvass officially starts. By May of each year the results of the canvass and the Raffle are known, and this allows the budget to be rightsized to our resources.   

The process is repetitive and intensive, time consuming and very much dependent on the staff and volunteers for its success or failure. It’s crucial that folks respond to the invitation to make a pledge, and buy tickets or clothing. A large shortfall in fundraising can translate into having to cut staff and or programming. So, it is very important for the financial health of our FRS community that our fund-raising work succeeds.    

Stewardship Means Stepping into a New Approach 

The Parish Board and the Finance Committee are studying a new approach to ensuring not just the financial health of the church, but also a new level of individual engagement. This new approach is called Stewardship and it involves trying to shift our cultural assumptions about giving and the process of giving, and about taking personal responsibility for the well-being of our community.   

What would it mean to become a Steward of the FRS? Stewardship is actually a broader concept than just being financially supportive of the FRS. Being a Steward also means being personally engaged in the activities of FRS, having a real understanding of our mission and vision, our history and place in the UU tradition. It means taking on responsibility for our beautiful buildings and for the FRS place in the larger community, as well as our staff and programs. And it means taking care of each other.  Whew – it sounds like an awfully big job.   

But what we see is that there are already many Stewards in our congregation – you know these folks. They are the ones who are always helping and working to further our goals as a community.  Some are quiet leaders; others are more visible in their work for the church.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the most engaged folks at FRS are also very generous at pledge time.  

This leads to a question:  what if, instead of a repetitive annual effort by a few within the congregation to support the many, each of us decided to become a Steward?  What if the substantial majority of the friends and members of FRS adopted the Stewardship approach?  What if by making a pledge – one was actually indicating a repeating level of support – think of a subscription – so that your pledge could be counted on without having to be confirmed each year by several phone calls, emails and visits?  And what if you made a commitment to become more engaged in FRS work within and without our congregation?   

What Would this New Approach Mean?  

In the coming year we don’t expect a wholesale change in how we raise money for FRS. We expect to repeat the Fellowship Dinners (see article). We expect to repeat our Giving Sunday services when members and friends can bring their pledge cards to church and give together as a congregation. We also expect to have a number of canvassers who will reach out to those who haven’t pledged to have a conversation and perhaps a visit. We expect to repeat the Raffle as well and we are revisiting other ways to have fun together and support FRS.  

We will be striving for 100% participation in the giving process. Each friend or member will be encouraged to make some level of commitment however small or large.  

This year we are also asking that each of us consider adopting a Stewardship approach to participating in church. Some ways of committing to FRS Stewardship to consider: 

  • Make a generous pledge that reflects an ongoing commitment not just a yearly gift 
  • Find a fulfilling way to engage in the work of church – sing in the choir, help in RE, volunteer for Habitat, join one of the many groups that do the church’s work 
  • Start and lead a new group that reflects our mission and vision 
  • Take responsibility for and be involved in ensuring some part of FRS well-being  

The Parish Board is studying and learning about Stewardship this year. All such investigations will involve mistakes and learning from mistakes.  We need your reactions and suggestions for improvement. Responding and helping improve the process is another way to be a Steward. For more information on the new Stewardship approach or how you can commit, contact Lark Madden.

Stay tuned for next week’s FRS Stewardship 2020 article featuring “Your Annual Canvass Leaders.” 

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