A few weeks ago, MMFA hosted our first Stewardship Roundtable here in Winston-Salem. We invited lay leaders from the Northern and Southern Provinces to join us on Friday, August 5, for a daylong discussion of money and the church. Our goals were to share best practices, learn from one another, and get input on how MMFA can improve our Grace, Gratitude and Generosity service.

Our lively group included:  Julie Rucks and Rosemary Mooney from Wisconsin Rapids Moravian; Steve and Jackie Pasquinelli from Schoenbrunn in Ohio; Martha Teel from Calvary in Allentown, Pennsylvania; and from Winston-Salem, Ronnie Sisk and David Draper from Union Cross; Charles Forrest from Calvary, and Elaine Peddycord from Home. Home Church graciously hosted us in their beautiful new Saal. On Friday, Paul, Laura and I shared information about giving trends, the importance of year-round stewardship, and mission and ministry budgeting. We even had them weigh in on our interoffice debate: “Is it Stewardship or is it Philanthropy?” More on that in a later blog!

For me, the very best part of the event was the prelude: the Thursday night dinner. We invited our guests to come early and share an evening meal with us at the MMFA office. Those of you who’ve been here know we don’t really have a lot of space, especially in our entry hall. But it didn’t matter. As folks came in and joined the conversation, it was like a big family get-together.  We were men and women, young and not so young, urban and rural, representing large and small congregations. What happened was magical. We were a group of strangers who very quickly became friends. We had a common goal: love of God and love of the Church. We experienced hospitality.

Henri Nouwen’s words remind us to create a warm welcome, a space for a stranger. Hospitality helps us create an open space where the “stranger can then unravel her gifts and the cycle continues.”

“Hospitality is not to change people, but offer them a space where change can take place.”

So true.