My March 2015 blog was entitled “What’s in a Name?” Working with Clemmons Moravian Church this year, I can tell you more about how changing a name has given energy and a new vocabulary to the church committee, formerly known as the Stewardship Committee. I am delighted that the Grace and Giving Committee decided to begin a year-round focus on Grace, Generosity and Gratitude.
We met in late January to plan a strategy to introduce the program and invite the congregation to become involved – stressing the Three Gs. This “CAN DO!” group has met at least monthly and in the last weeks, even more. The group embraced a new way of thinking – it’s all about God’s grace and our response. And they asked for their name to be changed to the Grace and Giving Committee.
As we worked to develop our identity and purpose, a committee member helped us create a unique Clemmons Moravian logo with our focus: Reach – Serve – Love.
In mid-February, I spoke in worship, outlining our plans for congregational discussion groups to bring members together to share memories, hopes, challenges and, most importantly, dreams for Clemmons Moravian Church. We also sent a letter explaining our process to each household/member. I also spoke at their monthly Men’s Breakfast, outlining the program and answering questions. Over a hundred members participated in 33 sessions over the next 5 weeks. We had participation from nearly half of those members who regularly attend worship.
The information gathered in the discussion groups was complied and a comprehensive report with conclusion and recommendations was provided in April 2015. We scheduled a special congregational meeting on a Sunday afternoon to read through the report, discuss the findings, and answer questions.
We were midway through the year and the group continued to work hard. We kept our focus on grace and giving and enjoyed regular “grace and giving” quotes and images which appeared in the Sunday bulletin, the monthly newsletter and on Facebook.
During the summer, the Committee planned a special fellowship activity called Dinner Eights. Groups of eight members met for dinner and conversation and committed to plan one more event before year’s end. Nine groups enjoyed conversation and food and a chance to get to know each other other better.
In September, the Grace and Giving Committee planned and operated a Time and Talent Ministry Fair to highlight opportunities for service at Clemmons Moravian. Open to everyone, over 140 fair participants were able to get a firsthand look at ministry opportunities and sign up for service. Several meetings, an information session for presenters and a “pep rally” were held prior to the fair. The committee provided hotdogs and drinks for participants. The ministry fair was a new way to encourage sharing your Time and Talent.
A 3-Sunday stewardship focus was planned to reflect the “Reach – Serve – Give” theme with narrative budget information, information on the importance of pledging, and Commitment Sunday.
If you’re thinking this sounds like a lot of work – it was. And the Grace and Giving Committee was definitely up to the task. The year round focus allowed many more people to be brought into the process of talking about ministries and services and yes, the money required to make all those things happen.
Why do we do this? Why do we ask all these questions and discuss church life? Why do we evaluate programs and ministries? Why do we have fellowship events? Why do we try new methods to engage congregation members?
It’s because we believe members give to their church because of relationships, the vision of the church leadership, trust in the church operations, and as part of their faith formation.
Remembering to be grateful and engaging in a practice of gratitude connects the past with the present. We have a sense of all that has gone before to create the richness of our lives today.
Generosity is not an accident. It is a result of transformation. In the church people experience a generous welcome of Christian hospitality, which is linked to the generous, gracious love of God.
The Rev. Dr. Carol Johnson, at Christian Theological Seminary calls it the arithmetic of grace: Grace + Gratitude = Generosity
For Clemmons, it was a “name changer”.