Linking Gratitude and Abundance: Engagement, Passion, Investment

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Linking Gratitude and Abundance: April 26, 2019
Thank you to all who have already submitted their pledges for the upcoming cycle, which runs from June 2019 through December of 2020. We are asking that everyone to continue to give at or above the 2018 giving level as this will help us maintain a stable budget. As the stewardship team continues to do some initial analysis of the 70 pledges received to date, I would like to remind everyone of the importance of pledging. First, this is a demonstration of one of the six marks of discipleship, being a generous giver. These gifts are of BOTH your time and treasure. Second, the operations of the church are the responsibility of the congregation, and our session takes direction on how we want to spend our funding. Part of our operating budget goes to things like regular repair and maintenance of our building and grounds. As we enter the rainy season of spring, challenges with upkeep may become more apparent. We spent a great deal last year on the roof, HVAC and siding (approximately $120,000) and have more that we need to do. Third, we as a church need to be fiscally responsible, which includes operating with an effective and well-managed budget. Without knowing what gifts will be received, it is very difficult to plan how best to spend the resources we have available. The full budget, including salaries and operating expenses, is shared with all the members and voted on during the annual meeting. If you have questions about the budget or spending, please ask me--Julia Kirby--or Steve Debus, and we will get you the information you are seeking. If you are hesitating to pledge, as you expect your circumstances will change, I would still encourage you to pledge and make that pledge realistic for your situation. If you need to change it later, you can do so. 
 
Per capita payments are also still being received--to date we have received $5,531 of the approximate $10,000 allocation we must pay. Thank you to the 82 individuals/families who have paid, and an extra thank you to those who have paid in excess of their $37 per member cost. With over 265 members on our books, we are still missing this payment from a significant number of our members. Please mark your per capita payment so that we can get it in the right place. If you can't remember if you have paid, again, please just ask, and we can confirm for you! 
 
We are trying hard to take the mystery out of our church finances. We will be sending out confirmation letters to everyone who has pledged to date. Please place your pledge card in the offering plate or leave it in the office. I will be providing the financial update for April soon. This will keep everyone up-to-date on expected income versus received income, as we want no surprises in the fall. Additionally, I received a recommendation to highlight some of our spending activities, so that people can better understand some of where our funds are spent. I will be trying to incorporate this as well. If you have ideas on updates you would like to receive or any questions, please reach out to any of our stewardship team members. 
 
May grace and peace be yours in abundance! 1 Peter 1:2b
Stewardship: April 12, 2019

Did you turn yours in???
 
Celebration of Gratitude Commitment Sunday was April 7th and many people turned in their pledge cards. Thank you!!! On Sunday during the service I quoted Krista Tippett from her book Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. She says in the book:
 
There's a powerful saying that sometimes we need a story more than food in order to live. They tell us about who we are, what is possible for us, what we might call upon. They also remind us we're not alone with whatever faces us.
 
I shared some of my story from my 17 years at Ark & Dove--the acceptance I felt from day one, seeing Mackenzie baptized and grow in her faith as she is now one of our confirmands, and all of the times our church family has been there for me in so many ways. During our discussions with the congregation, which our Stewardship task force conducted over the past several weeks, we gathered your stories on gratitude to Ark & Dove. We all share part of the same story at Ark & Dove, and this became even more obvious as I read through what everyone was grateful for. There were so many duplicates and overlap from person to person. These gratitude items are now posted on the bulletin board outside of the sanctuary. If you haven't yet stopped by to check it out, please do so. Look for your story up on that board, and know that you share all of these wonderful items of gratitude with your church family. We have so much to be grateful for, and gratitude leads to abundance. Our church has a story of gratitude and this story tells us what is possible. We are a community of believers carrying God's dream into the world.
 
If you have not yet turned in your pledge card, please do so as soon as possible by dropping it in the offering plate or sending it to the church office. This pledge is a demonstration of your faith and a commitment to the church and God. Please prayerfully consider your gift. Yes we have big visions of what we as a church would like to accomplish (paying our leaders fairly, maintaining our facility, funding all of our ministry programs, and working towards our goal of giving 10% of our budget to mission). We want everyone to pledge so that we can plan effectively to use funds as the congregation has directed.
 
Next week I will provide an update as to where we stand on pledges received relative to the budget passed at the end of January. As always, if you have any questions or would like to discuss anything related to the budget or your pledge, you can contact me, Julia Kirby (maybe_soon98@yahoo.com) or Steve Debus (steven.debus89@gmail.com). May grace and peace be yours in abundance! (1 Peter 1:2b)
 
May grace and peace be yours in abundance! 1 Peter 1:2b
Stewardship: April 5, 2019
 
We Are Called to Be Purposeful Givers
During the seasons of Epiphany and Lent, your Stewardship Team has been busy educating, encouraging and engaging the entire congregation to learn and grow, as disciples, through gratitude. Our hope is that we helped everyone within our congregation to realize how truly blessed we are—for each other; the gifts we bring and share; our mission and ministry efforts that enrich us, encourage us and empower us to be the people God envisioned us to be.
 
Our wish, is that we will continue to keep all of our promises throughout this year, not only to ourselves, as good stewards to all that is entrusted to us, but also to the many people we serve and depend upon us.
The congregational promises we made are:
 
  • To fairly and fully compensate our talented Pastors up to their Presbytery peers.
  • To start replenishing our facilities, maintenance and improvements fund after spending over $120,000 in 2018.
  • To fully support our ministry and mission programs by increasing resources to match our increasing needs.
 
In order to meet our commitments and prevent another $25,000 budget-shattering shortfall, what is now required is:
 
  • Every household’s PURPOSEFUL participation in pledging (and giving) towards reaching this very achievable congregation-wide goal. While pledging is purposeful it is also purpose-filled as it’s your vote and voice in endorsing the mission and ministry efforts at Ark & Dove. 
 
So, if our 184 households pledged and gave just 10% more in 2019 and 10% more
throughout 2020, we’d be back on track, financially speaking, keeping our
promises.
 
  • Every household’s PURPOSEFUL participation in paying their annual Per Capita. 
 
If everyone were to pay their Per Capita, we would have an excess of funds for Mission and Ministry. At $37.00 per person, per year this is also very attainable. (Now available, donate per capita to 410-983-3481. Text 37 PerCapita)
 
When you receive your Pledge Card this Lenten season, please take some time to reflect on all that has been given to you and pledge to give purposely, not out of sacrifice, but out of gratitude and from the abundance’s you’ve been blessed with. 
 
Your Stewardship Team would like to thank you for your continuing generosity in supporting the missions and ministries; its people and programs at Ark & Dove.
 
Gratefully,
 
Julia Kirby, Team Lead, Steve Debus, Discipleship Elder, Diane Johnson, Amita Joshi Dubois, Caroline Jones, Bruce Sanders, Doug Walcutt
 
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Stewardship: March 29, 2019
Are you ready for April 7th?
Brochures and pledge cards were put in the mail this week. The Stewardship task force has been working hard to meet with all of you to learn what you are grateful for in relation to Ark & Dove. We have had some incredibly great meetings where hearts and thoughts were shared. Thank you to all who accepted our meeting requests. If you didn't get the chance to meet with a member of our task force and would like to, we would still love to hear from you. Just reach out to anyone on the Stewardship team and we can help get that time set up. With receipt of our brochure and the pledge card, you should now have information on the church financial position and what our goals are and more importantly, what drove those goals.
 
While this is great information to have and should be shared with all our members and givers, as you prayerfully consider your pledge, focus on the relationship between your financial resources and your faith. As much as the church needs money to provide all the wonderful services and opportunities for spiritual growth, determining how much you should give is a faith based decision. It is between you and God, not between you and the Stewardship team. The Bible speaks to being a generous and cheerful giver and is clear that tithing should be a goal. I would also challenge you to consider all your methods of giving - your engagement, your passion and your investment.
 
So what is a pledge? From the Webster's dictionary we learn that pledge is both a noun and a verb meaning the following:
 
  • a solemn promise or undertaking (vow, word, commitment, assurance, oath, covenant, bond), or
  • the act of formally declaring or promising.
 
But why do we need to do this? Why do we need to put it in writing? What happens if something changes in my financial situation? What if I can't keep up with my pledge? For those that don't know, I will try to answer those questions. For those who know, a bit of patience please. 
 
Why do we need to do this? Why do we need to put it in writing? - This is actually for several reasons. Let's focus on your personal reason first. You are much more likely to follow through on a commitment if you write it down and even more so if you share it with someone else. This is true for any type of commitment - wedding vows, weight loss journeys, any time you attempt to learn something new (think note taking in school). For some of us, pledging will be a first time activity. We all need help to reach our goals and keeping a commitment is a goal. This is a commitment that you are making based on your faith. Secondly, we, as a church, actually use the information received from pledge cards to project forward our expected income for spending purposes. If we believe we will have enough money coming in that we could, just for example purposes, get the parking lot repaved with a short term loan as we expect sufficient cash flow to pay it back quickly, then that work could move forward. If we believe we will only have enough to meet existing expenses, then we have to wait until we actually get the funds. Our budgets are typically driven by our pledges, our commitments. When people don't pledge or don't pay their pledged amount, that impacts our planning and our spending.
 
What happens if something changes in my financial situation? What if I can't keep up with my pledge? - This is not a legally binding agreement, like a credit card or loan. This is a faith based project of what you plan to do. If you get behind, try to catch up if you can. Ark & Dove provides quarterly statements so you can see where you are relative to your pledged amount. Should your situation change, for better or worse, you might want to change your pledged giving amount either up or down. All you need to do is submit a new pledge card. The pledge card period runs from June 1, 2019 to December 2020. Obviously for financial planning purposes, we would struggle greatly with managing the church's finances if everyone was changing their pledge all the time. Your pledged amount should be realistic as well as the time-frame for which you pledge - weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. I personally would love to see increases in giving because our members are experiencing abundance! That would be awesome. With our team's commitment to you all to serve for the entire year, there will be ongoing dialogue relating to stewardship throughout the year. We will be here to support and answers questions going forward!
 
Please read the letter and brochure you receive in the mail and then faithfully consider your pledge. On April 7th we will be bringing forward our completed pledge cards. We will have extra pledge cards in the pews going forward. Our youth are also encouraged to pledge if they receive an allowance or are working. Their faithful relationship with God starts early on and learning to be good stewards is something we should not only model but teach as well. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to me, Julia Kirby at maybe_soon98@yahoo.com or Steve Debus at steven.debus89@gmail.com.
Stewardship: March 22, 2019
 
Stewardship Task Force Outreach
 
Thank you to all who have already met with our team and shared your thoughts on gratitude! We love hearing about what makes you thankful for Ark & Dove and are planning to share some of your comments anonymously--so watch for something cool coming from our team. For those of you who have not yet had the chance, we still want to connect with you! Linking Gratitude and Abundance is our way to focus purposefully on how we give back to the church and how we as a church are prepared to carry the message of God's dream into our community and world.
 
I completely understand that the word stewardship may cause some of you to wrinkle your brow or think "ugh", perhaps not your favorite topic of conversation. I'm here to hopefully eliminate those reactions. We want you to expand your definition and see stewardship as the actions we take as God's people--ALL the actions. Gratitude drives the attitude... that may sound cheesy, but it's true. There are many many advocates out there today who say that starting and ending your day with gratitude is the way to a happier life--focusing on the positive. This is not to ignore or negate when you have a bad day--ups and downs are part of life--but it is the opportunity to reset your spirit and perhaps ease away from some of the pain. We believe that gratitude and abundance are linked! As Tim mentioned in his sermon recently though, we are NOT saying that giving will bring you individual riches. What I am saying is that if we all give graciously and generously, as each is capable, together we can impact our community and world in a big way.
 
As part of our Lenten journey, we as a church are reading (or at least hearing in the sermons) about contemplative prayer from Martin Laird's Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation. My question for this week is how do you see/experience/feel the link between prayer, gratitude and abundance? The answer for each of us is likely different, but I would guess we would find many similarities. Jon encouraged us to be still so that we can hear God, and also so that God can hear us. Perhaps we could all use a little quiet time to consider our personal reaction to stewardship and prayerfully consider the information our team has to share regarding the finances of the church.
 
My ask is simple and direct--please share your thoughts on gratitude with us, connect with us, get to know another member of the congregation through this process. These meetings are painless--we don't even leave you with a pledge card at this point! We just want to connect and hear from you and share information because no one wants to be uninformed or left in the dark. We will be mailing the brochures to all the members and the mailing will contain a pledge card. Pledging shows a commitment to our future and allows us to budget to address the vision you all have set forth through our discussions. We also welcome any and all feedback on the process for this year, as we have tried something new based on feedback we received from you all. April 7th is Celebration of Gratitude Commitment Sunday. Use some of your Lenten contemplative time considering your gifts to the church, both financial and non-financial. May grace and peace be yours in abundance! (1 Peter 1:2b)
 
If you have any questions, please contact me, Julia Kirby at maybe_soon98@yahoo.com, or Steve Debus at steven.debus89@gmail.com.
Stewardship: March 15, 2019
Connecting to Share Our Gratitude
Over the past several weeks, our team members have shared some of our thoughts on stewardship, gratitude, abundance and how we give through our engagement, passion and investment. Stewardship encompasses all aspects of sharing and caring for God's gifts to us. Doug Walcutt mentioned that Stewardship is also the passion that we put forth, the time that we spend to hear the Word of God, to act as a disciple, and to be one of God's children. Stewardship comes from a center of gratitude for all the gifts we receive from God. That same gratitude then is the feeling we have when we enable others to achieve their goals and aspirations, so that we can all live with dignity and purpose and hope.
 
Amita Joshi Dubois shared that prioritizing Ark & Dove and its mission as one of our "most important things" helps us budget our time and purposefully allocate our gifts of engagement. Caroline Jones reminded us to allow ourselves to squirm in the awkwardness of claiming our gifts, and thank God for our unique set of strengths and abilities, and engage with our passion to be a steward! Bruce Sanders eloquently reflected on Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be", reminding us that we each have a role to play in giving generously with gratitude. I, for one, am extremely grateful for this team who has shared from their hearts to help the congregation understand our vision for Stewardship.
 
Linking Gratitude and Abundance as our theme was based on our discussions of the heart of our church--emphasizing spiritual growth and social justice. I am so thankful for the love and support that our church extends to all who walk through our doors, but what else can we do in our broader community to expand that loving impact? Our mission to be a community of disciples that embodies the life and spirit of Jesus Christ, so that lives are transformed and God's dream is carried into the world is alive through the engagement, passion and investment of its members! We have so much to celebrate already, but just pause a minute to envision our impact on not only our personal spiritual growth but also the world if we all commit to generously support our plan for the next year and a half.
 
At this point, we want to hear more from the congregation. As I attempted (rather teary-eyed as my heart was wide open) to share on Sunday, we are embarking on the next phase of our journey. We have trained a large task force to connect with each of you. Our goal is to learn from you what you are grateful for in relation to Ark & Dove and to build better connections in our church family. We want to capture all of your input on what makes Ark & Dove special for you--we want to know what you are grateful for. We would also appreciate any feedback or ideas relating to our stewardship approach.
 
A member of our task force will be reaching out to request a face to face meeting. I know everyone is busy, but this is a real opportunity to connect and continue your spiritual growth through sharing time with another church member. We will be respectful of your time. All I ask is that you accept the meeting for this important opportunity to learn more, as we make this effort to raise the level of understanding of the financial condition of the church and how our finances align to our vision of what we want the church to be. The task force members will NOT be asking for your pledge or even give you a pledge card. That will come to you later in the mail. They are truly interested in sharing and caring!
 
We have such great goals for our future and are blessed with wonderful church leaders in our pastors, staff and lay leaders. Our task team members will share our Stewardship brochure with you, which is filled with all the information to answer questions and hopefully inspire you to dream big with us. Our ask is for a 20% increase in giving over 2018 levels. April 7th we will be celebrating gratitude and abundance as we bring our pledges. The pledges will cover from June 2019 and the entire year of 2020. May grace and peace be yours in abundance! (1 Peter 1:2b)
 
If you have any questions, please contact me - Julia Kirby at maybe_soon98@yahoo.com or Steve Debus at steven.debus89@gmail.com.
Stewardship: March 8, 2019
 
The Gift of Treasure
For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.
– Matthew 6:21
Why is this familiar verse so often connected with financial Stewardship? First, it resembles superb ad copy--it’s attention-getting and attention-grabbing. Second, it seems only natural to link “treasure” and “money” together, as being the same and then incorporating it into a sound-bite, or slogan, for any budget-funding stewardship drive. You know the catchphrase, “please give of your time, your talent and your treasure!”
 
On my faith journey, I discovered that blending these two words together and recognizing them as being the same thing, does not really work for me, as it relates to this stewardship-giving plea.
So, exactly what is treasure? How do I acquire it? Can I accumulate it? Spend it? Store it up? Give it away? Is it tangible? Does it have intrinsic value like currency? If so, can I then naively imply that treasure is just another name for money or, is treasure something entirely different? 
 
For me, treasure is not the same thing as money. My treasure resides in my heart; it is a very special gift given only by God; it is unique to me. I can feel this special, intangible gift when reaching out to others with kindness, compassion and love. It does not matter to whom I’m lending my helping hand to either. It could be family, friends, neighbors, as well as strangers in need. The more I give and share, the better I feel. I’m at my very best when this giving feeling comes over me, usually suddenly, and then I act without wavering. 
 
I discovered this treasure one Easter Sunday morning, several years ago, when Karen and I were visiting our son, Billy, in Chicago. Like all churches on Easter it’s standing-room-only so, get there early. We were among 200+ other churchgoers, all lined up on the busy sidewalk surrounding the church, waiting to enter. In the middle of the church courtyard, which we all had to pass by, sat a man holding a cup--not begging, mind you--just happily wishing everyone, “Happy Easter; God Bless You!” So here we are, standing on the sidewalk in front of a church, no less; on Easter Sunday, no less; on the “Gold Coast,” which is THE wealthiest neighborhood in all of Chicagoland, no less, so what does my treasure filled heart charge me to do? “Bruce, please step out of line; get off the sidewalk (the sideline?); get out your wallet and put at least a $20.00 bill (or more!) into his empty cup. Make sure you wish him a Happy Easter too.” While I cannot speak for anyone else, nor do I remember (or care) if anyone else followed my lead, my treasure--my desire to reach out with kindness, love and compassion to this man in obvious need--came straight from my heart; my act of putting the money into his cup--came out of gratitude, which followed and flowed through me during this treasure-filled moment.
 
So, I no longer connect treasure with money when I come upon this verse. These straight-from-the-heart, treasure-filled moments that take place, either individually or collectively with Ark & Dove, are the intangible treasures I want to continue to accumulate and store up in Heaven. But, while I’m here, I also need to share my tangible wealth--my money--along with my other gifts (time & talent), to continue to build-up Ark & Dove, who is not only good to my family and me, but also good for me. Our church, through its people and programs, encourages me, equips me and then leads me to act, in a more Christ-like way, so I can fulfill more treasure-filled moments. I’m grateful for Ark & Dove for providing not only me, but also you, with the means (missions) and opportunities (ministries) so we can all learn and grow, in faith and service, as we strive to become the disciples Jesus called us to be.
 
In just a few weeks, we’re going to be asked to make a new, monetary pledge. I plan on increasing our investment and stake in Ark & Dove and will vow to give more money. Why? Like you, I have a role to play and want to do my part and contribute more to make sure that we not only keep all of our promises, but also keep moving our venture-of-faith forward. And, when I give generously from the abundances God has so richly blessed me with, and with gratitude, I’ll continue on my spiritual journey coming across new treasure-filled moments, which is where my “heart also be”-longs. My hope, and prayer, is that I will see each and every one of you on this same path too. 
 
- Bruce Sanders, brusanders@aol.com, Serving on Ark & Dove’s Stewardship Team
Stewardship: March 1, 2019
 
Use Whatever Gift You Have Received
 
I realize minds tend to go straight to money when the word ‘stewardship’ comes up. This is a bit like thinking only of height when considering aptitude for basketball. Stewardship, at its core, is about what God equipped us with and what we choose to do with it. In other words, stewardship is about talent and our actions with it.
 
Let’s talk about talent. It’s one of the most intimidating things I can think of and often makes people deeply uncomfortable. Why? We’re unaware it exists, we doubt its value, and sometimes we desire what others have while ignoring our own gifts. 
 
Talent is a confounding thing. Society demands that we downplay or deny what we have in the name of modesty and humility. Discussion of our talents requires us to walk the fine line between truth and bragging: a trick so difficult we sometimes decide it just isn’t worth it. We shirk opportunities to engage. We deny our passions. We turn bright pink when someone generously compliments us (or that might just be me). Talent is awkward!
 
Yet, when we skirt around those conversations and deny our gifts, what are we doing? Whether our talent is in writing, music, dancing, a gift to work with children, a generous heart, or a real knack with numbers, it comes from the Creator. God deliberately gave each of us talents, and she’s pretty clear that we’re expected to do something with those gifts. The Bible urges us to acknowledge our gifts and use them to serve: Jesus’ parable on talent is clear. Romans 12:6 says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
 
I invite each of you to take a few minutes this weekend and consider what you’re doing with your talents. Embrace the gifts the Creator of the universe gave to you. Allow yourself to squirm in the awkwardness of claiming your gifts, and thank God for your unique set of strengths and abilities. Engage with your passion and decide how you’re going to use it. Be a steward!

- Caroline Jones, carojones28@gmail.com
Stewardship: February 22, 2019
 
Offering Engagement: Giving the Gift of Time
 
I spend a lot of time thinking about time: how I wish I had more of it, how no matter how much I have, it never seems to be enough. It’s human nature to fill the space we have, so how we choose to fill it really matters.
 
In addition to pondering the consumption of time … I also clip coupons. I’m aware this may seem counter-intuitive, but I love a good deal and it’s important to me to get the most bang for my buck!
 
I’ve begun to look at the way I spend my time in the same way I look at how I spend my money. “Is it worth it?” I ask myself. Specifically regarding how I spend my time, I ask myself: “Does it bring me closer to a goal? Toward the life I want for myself and my family? Does it fit with my values and further my ideals for my community and beyond?”
 
I’m not always good at budgeting my time. In fact, it’s a constant work in progress. Identifying “the most important thing,” as a former boss used to say, helps me narrow my focus and stay on course when I feel overwhelmed and spread thin.
 
Though stumbling across Ark and Dove less than a year ago felt like a happy accident, my family soon realized “staying on course” and being true to ourselves and our values is what led us here, to a church whose mission is “[to foster] a community of disciples that embodies the life and spirit of Jesus Christ, so that lives are transformed and God's dream is carried into the world.”
 
We had been struggling to find our church home after moving from Oregon to Maryland three years ago and feeling like fish out of water in a cultural climate to which we were not accustomed.
 
We breathed a sigh of relief at our very first visit to Ark and Dove. It’s refreshing leadership and congregation of socially conscious, thoughtful and dedicated members felt so familiar and comforting, we knew we were home. I joined the choir that very week and the rest followed. Our family has become members of Ark and Dove and engaged with numerous church offerings and programs, among them: Choir, Logos, Stewardship and Bible Study.
 
Prioritizing Ark and Dove and its mission as one of our “most important things” helps us budget our time and purposefully allocate our gifts of engagement – from evenings and mornings rehearsing, singing in worship, clearing the dining area and doing dishes at LOGOS (shout out to my wonderful husband), helping plan, communicate and execute Stewardship goals, contributing to discussion at Bible Study, and more.
 
We consider this time well spent; engagement that gives us the most “bang for our buck.” These are efforts and energy that contribute to our goals of personal and spiritual development as individuals and as a family. This hands-on form of contributing to our church also enriches our fellow members and visitors.
 
Furthermore, we believe supporting and strengthening our church and its disciples translates to spreading kindness in our corner of the world, which emanates out – extending its reach to our greater community and beyond.
 
Working toward that priceless goal of a kinder community and beyond … for the low, low price of engagement, passion and investment in our church … now, that’s a downright steal, wouldn’t you say?
 
- Amita Joshi Dubois, amitajoshi19@yahoo.com, Stewardship Team
Stewardship: Februay 15, 2019
 
What is your passion?
 
February is a month marked with passion: the energy that we put into our relationships, our pastimes and our occupations. The passion of the Big Game has gone, but, this week, we celebrate the relationships that we have with our closest of soulmates, friends and family. In the coming weeks, we ask you to listen to our messages and respond to what you envision for Ark and Dove--with passion.
 
There will be conversations and stories of how our church family grows together in spirituality and stewardship. This growing together enables us to do the work that the soul craves. It is also the passion that we put forth, the time that we spend to hear the Word of God, to act as a disciple, and to be one of God’s children. Gratitude is not only something that we show toward others, but, more importantly, it is the feeling we have when we enable others to achieve their goals and aspirations so that we can all live with dignity and purpose and hope. 
 
When we think of stewardship, we must think about how we can combine our collective engagement, passion and investment to be something greater than ourselves: an abundance that is not easily measured by one single metric. Each of us is in a different place, and there is no single yardstick to measure what our impact is. The simple gesture of greeting our Winter Relief guests with a smile, a cot, the best of our meals, and some conversation may transform that life into a great disciple. We each need to assess what and how we are able to add in order to create the magic mix that makes Ark and Dove special. 
 
Yes, it takes money to have the facilities, pastors and staff that make many things possible. Money alone cannot buy the smile, or the training someone provided, or the time someone took to learn or listen, but a lack of funding can impede our ministries. We contribute by being present and intentional in what we do, be it attending worship on Sunday, a small group, or by managing our debts so that we can give generously to facilitate others in their contributions.
 
Our pastors and staff need a more than fair salary, and our volunteers need training and materials to do their best. They all contribute with equal burden to achieve the Ark and Dove vision. Perhaps we can use the Six Marks of Discipleship to be our barometer in our personal journey of spirituality and be open to mindfully listening to our stories of stewardship in the coming weeks. And then we can individually consider how we are each called to respond and bring passion to our stewardship, empowering us to find abundance and gratitude in all that we do. 
 
If you have any questions or suggestions, please speak with Steve Debus (steven.debus89@gmail.com) or Julia Kirby (maybe_soon98@yahoo.com). 
 
Ark and Dove Presbyterian Church 2019 and 2020 Budget Review