Laura Watson and I completed our work to each earn an Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising from the Lake Institute of Indiana University School of Philanthropy. Proof of this came a few weeks ago in the form of a congratulatory email from Bill Enright, Director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving. I was reminded of it more recently when I placed the beautiful framed certificate on the wall of my office. I reasoned that if I kept this representation of accomplishment in front of me, I could use it not only as a reminder but also as encouragement for the work I do at the Moravian Ministries Foundation.
It’s been an interesting a journey. It started back in 2010, when Paul and I were invited to make presentations about our work at the North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy. It was at that conference that we first met Bill Enright. We were quite impressed with his research on giving and the church. His ideas were very different from any we had heard before, and it all resonated with us. Fast forward a few months. Bill agreed to be the keynote speaker for our very first Adamson Forum, held in 2011 in Chaska, MN. He challenged us to look more deeply into the relationship between money and the Church, and to talk about why people give as well as what motivates generosity. We kept in contact with Bill and, in 2012, Laura and I were invited to become a part of the Lake Institute’s first cohort to work toward an Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising.
Over the past 2 years, we’ve had several hours of classroom study at the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, in addition to lengthy reading requirements and on- line chats. Our classmates included 30+ clergy and lay people who represent clergy and leaders in the Church as well as the not-for-profit world. Our lecturers are well known for their scholarship and their work to determine best practices to encourage generosity.
In class discussion, we shared our faith tradition and examined our understanding of why people support their local congregation or charities.
At the end of our second 2-day session, we were asked to present a concept for a project we would design, implement and measure that could make a difference in our particular field of work.
Laura and I collaborated on a project to review and examine our 2011 Adamson Forum and to develop a plan for the 2014 Forum which included more directed work, discussion of best practices and follow-up analysis.
Reading lists complete; course work complete. Our final task was to submit a formal paper documenting our work for review and approval of the Lake Institute Faculty. It was approved! We did it.
This unique opportunity has changed our thinking and practice in talking about money and the church. Indeed, we literally changed the name of our stewardship program from Simply Stewardship to Grace, Generosity and Gratitude, to more accurately reflect this new focus. Laura and I are delighted to be in the first “graduating class” of this program, which has now spread across the country to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Duke Divinity School, Saint Meinrad Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Shaw University, McCormick Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary.
If you would like to hear more about Grace, Generosity and Gratitude, and learn how this program has influenced our work and been effective in Moravian congregations, we would be delighted to talk with you and your church boards.