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"Stewardship: A Call to Partnership"


'Whose Agenda is it anyway?' This is the essence of what I have been hearing and talking in different forums and groups both within the church and outside, the last few days. Agenda setting is 'goal setting', and goal setting is the pathway to see change. I am so excited that in the recently concluded Pastorate Committee meeting, we have objectives and plans for each of the ministries, fellowships and sub-committees as an outcome of the Retreat, and I congratulate each one of them.

The lectionary themes this month, puts the focus back to our understanding of the foundations in the Bible. The Biblical Story is a story of God's people and God's call to be good stewards of the resources bestowed on us as a gift from God. We are called to be "good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received" (1 Peter 4:10). I am afraid that we often muddle up 'Stewardship' with 'Giving,' which is not fully true. Stewardship for me is the experience of receiving the manifold grace of God and serving one another. Stewardship is not and cannot be an isolated effort, but rather a call to Partnership. The United Theological College (UTC) and St. Andrew's have always shared a very special and close relationship, and I am so glad that we will once again be called to partner with UTC and its ministry. Theological Education is a Stewardship Model, which needs close partnership with the "Church," in its vision, mission, and goal setting.

Two of the characters that come to mind are Ezra and Nehemiah. It takes place about 538 BCE, when people are returning from exile, authorized by the Persian king, Cyrus. In Nehemiah 8, we see that the work of restoring Jerusalem's wall is complete after much opposition and resistance. Nehemiah then invites his people back from exile, and asks them to gather in the square before the Water Gate for an assembly, and "the priest Ezra…brought the law…read from it." (Nehemiah 8:3-4). The life of the people of God in Israel was never the same after the destruction of the Temple, and their exile and return taught them new lessons of life. They really understood the 'manifold grace of God,' and that Stewardship is the only way out, and that this is possible through Partnership of the clergy, the laity, and all the people of God, together. Stewardship is not about us, it is about others. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'what are we doing for others?'"

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Rev. Dr. Dexter S. Maben
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