This week’s blog post comes to us from Luke Thompson from the Resolution Review Committee of Diocesan Council. Thank you, Luke, for sharing your thoughts on this resolution:
Stewardship in Communities of Color
… is one of the resolutions for action or consideration to be reported to Executive Council before December 1, 2020 – Resolution B008:
B008: Stewardship in Communities of Color
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention recognizes that The Episcopal Church has not historically articulated, recognized or appreciated the particularities and uniqueness of stewardship and fundraising practices among congregations and faith communities of color; nor is there denominational or ecumenical research and data available on stewardship and fundraising practices of communities of color; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention commends the initiative of the ecumenical Collective Foundation in their project to research and collect data on stewardship and fundraising practices of communities of color called: “Research on Giving by Faith Communities of Color,” and its goal to support communities of color in their ongoing stewardship programs and initiatives; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention urges the offices of The Episcopal Church Center, dioceses, and congregations to cooperate with, and support the efforts of, the Collective Foundation in the “Research on Giving by Faith Communities of Color” project in partnership with other denominations.
[Please remember that the following explanation provided with the original resolution is not part of the final approved resolution but is included here to give some additional background for our understanding.]
Most fundraising practices in the church have been created by qualitative and quantitative work with, by, and for white dominant North American culture, putting communities of color at an immediate disadvantage. Currently, no fundraising statistics, very little qualitative data, and inadequate information about diverse fundraising practices in communities of color exits. In addition, there are a disproportionately high number of white fundraising professionals compared to people of color and there is no existing network for religious fundraising professionals of color.
The goal of the “Research on Giving in Faith Communities of Color” project is to collect information and provide it back to communities of color in order to develop more effective stewardship and fundraising practices. The project will also gather religious fundraising professionals of color in a network to support one another in stewardship and fundraising practices.
The Collective Foundation is a nonprofit, ecumenical, research group made up of five individuals, the majority of whom are people of color, specifically organized to undertake this research project. The Collective includes: Aimée Laramore (religious fundraising consultant), Rev. Larissa Kwong-Abazia (seminary administrator and pastor), Erin Weber- Johnson (religious fundraising consultant), Rev. Dr.Derrick McQueen (pastor, academic) and Rev. Mieke Vandersall (religious consultant and church planter). In addition, Dr. Amy Thayer (Director of Research for The Millennial Impact Research studies) has been hired to provide analysis.
This resolution calls on The Episcopal Church at all levels to support the “Research on Giving in Faith Communities of Color” project.
Historically, communities of color have used spirituality as a distraction from our challenges in life. Spirituality is a way to overcome social inequality, political inequality, economic inequality and other forms of influence that are used to dominate and oppress our communities. So, a service on Sunday morning filled with traditional Anglican hymns as well as songs from Lift Every Voice and Sing can provide a time to escape the systemic social inequalities that communities of color face everyday. This is how we live as stewards. We practice stewardship by taking care of each other mentally, physically and spiritually everyday. I Chronicles 29:12 reminds us, “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.”
General Convention, last year, gave the mandate to all Episcopalians to join hands and fight racism in our churches and communities. This is a great starting point for stewardship in Communities of Color. We need to discuss the cultural and political norms that hurt our communities and figure out ways to deal with these issues. We should listen to each other, create solutions and, throughout the process, show love. This is a large undertaking that will highlight our diversity and demonstrate inclusion.
According to Wikipedia, “Stewardship is a theological belief that humans are responsible for the world, and should take care of it. Believers in stewardship are usually people who believe in one God who created the universe and all that is within it, also believing that they must take care of creation and look after it.” The diversity of human beings is also part of God’s creation.
Our Baptismal Covenant on pages 304-305 in The Book of Common Prayer is a great resource as stewards: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? I will with God’s help. Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will with God’s help.” Those are promises we make – to respect the dignity of every human being. Let us all become good stewards, especially in communities of color. Amen.
Let us pray –
you created all people in your image.
We thank you for the astonishing variety
of races and cultures in this world.
Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of friendship,
and show us your presence
in those who differ most from us,
until our knowledge of your love is made perfect
in our love for all your children;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(From the Lutheran Book of Worship: Minister’s Desk Edition)
~ Luke Thompson, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council