For: Christ the King Anglican Church, a Reformed Episcopal Parish. Based on an article originally written in July 2000 — some relatively random thoughts about our stewardship of money.
On May 14, 2000, I was at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Circleville, for the institution of the Rev. J. Domenic Ciannella. This is about money.
At the Rev. J. Domenic Ciannella’s institution, his father, the Rev. Canon Domenic Ciannella, who, though retired, had been serving as Interim Rector at Calvary Episcopal Church, Cincinnati, preached the sermon. The elder Domenic, already near the end of his life, is a great preacher and has a lifetime of wisdom to share with the congregation. I think when he said, “If you need more money, GIVE more,” everyone was surprised at the clarity of his message. He’s talking about money to a poor the church. “If your church needs more money, give more” would be another way of putting it. After all, personal giving is where money for church comes from. No, it doesn’t come from the diocese. The money the diocese has to spend, comes from the churches in the diocese.
Shortly after that event, as I’m listening on the radio to the preacher from Dallas who yells a lot (Tony Evans), I hear him saying “God already has all the money He needs! Some of that money is still in your pockets.”
Earlier in the week, the Canon Missioner brings me a little booklet titled, Forms of address for clergy. The diocesan financial officer gave it to him saying, “Here, Andy needs this!” She had overheard him discussing my thoughts about when and when not to capitalize “the” in the title “The Reverend” with another Canon. I told the Canon Missioner that we could avoid a lot of confusion by using generic forms of address such as “Pastor.” He replied that, of all the forms of address used for clergy, he liked the term “Pastor” the least, because it implied the head of a small pastoral congregation, and that we needed our congregations to be bigger in order to have enough money for the work of the church and mission.
I thought about that for a moment and told him that the problem wasn’t the small size of some congregations, but the failure of the people in those congregations to tithe. A lot of our brothers and sisters attend churches with 50-100 or so families, and many of those congregations take in so much money in tithes that their biggest problem is deciding what missions to support, not where the money is going to come from. The members of those congregations take stewardship seriously and personally.
In Jeff Brown’s June Lantern article, (The Lantern was the name of the monthly newsletter of our former congregation) he told us about how some Gauls during their early conversion to Christianity would hold their sword hand up out of the water when being baptized, and how the image in today’s church might not be all that different, except that instead of their sword, many hold apart their wallets and purses. There is a willingness to turn some things over to God, but not control over our money. Even calling it “our money” flies in the face of the offertory acclamation, “All things come from thee, O Lord; and of thine own have we given thee.”
Your fellow servant in Christ