"...We commonly refer to the “three T’s” of Stewardship, but one “T” may be missing or perhaps taken for granted: “Truth.” Truth in Stewardship means that we make an honest effort to focus on the call of Christ to commit ourselves to prayer, to work, and to give so that the body of Christ, the Church, may live and meet Her mission. St. Paul writes: “It is required in stewards, that a person be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). We must be willing to meet the challenge to strengthen the sacred work of our Church in America..."
Stewardship is an important part of our Orthodox faith and is part of a total committment to Christ. Stewardship is part of a Christian lifestyle that is expected by God as a loving way to give back to God for thanks of what He has given us in life.
Stewardship in the Orthodox Faith is to live and practice the teachings of Jesus Christ and the actions in our daily lives confirm our beliefs in our faith. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese refers to the three T's of stewardship being Time, Talents and Treasures to the glory of God.
The Stewardship Program at St. George, consists of four facets...
Ordinary Stewardship is the regular practice of returning to God a portion of all that God has given us. It involves teaching ourselves how to create a life built upon the notion that all that we have is a gift from God. This includes spreading the teachings of Christ and the concept that giving regularly of our time, talent, and money to God's work on this earth is as much a spiritual practice as prayer and worship.
Time and Talents is getting involved with the Church both in your participation in ministries and offering your volunteer time as well as your talents to help further the Church's mission and ministries.
Extraordinary Stewardship involves the special occasions that arise in the life of our community that call us to give beyond our ordinary habit. They involve increased risk and encourage us to experiment with sacrificial giving in order to help the community realize critical and important goals and programs. The best example of extraordinary stewardship is our capital campaigns.
Legacy Stewardship is the way in which we address the matter of disposing of the accumulations of our lifetime. It is the opportunity to provide a planned gift that constitutes both a legacy to generations yet unborn and a final testimony of the belief in our Orthodox faith.
The Special Regulations and Uniform Parish Regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America defines membership as the following:
"Any person, eighteen years of age or older, who was baptized according to the rites of the Church, or who was received into the Church through chrismation, who lives according to the faith and canons of the Church, who has met his or her stewardship obligation (part of which is to meet his or her stewardship financial obligation to the Parish) and abides by the regulations herein and the by-laws of the parish, except that a person under twenty-one shall not serve on the parish council when such service is contrary to local law."
The responsibilities of membership may be divided into the fulfillment of three distinct areas of commitment to Christ and to His Church: (1) our liturgical fulfillment, (2) our stewardship fulfillment, and (3) our canonical fulfillment. In order to be a "member in good standing" at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, each person must have fulfilled all three aspects of his/her total commitment to the Church.
The fulfillment of our liturgical commitment to the Church requires our regular participation in the services and sacraments of the Church. Without such a commitment to participation in the Church's life, one cannot be a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word. As our Lord said, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you . . . he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:54,56). It is therefore essential that each person commit themselves to frequent participation in the Holy Eucharist (Communion), as well as regular participation in the Sacrament of Confession. Any questions regarding one's participation in these sacraments should be referred to Fr. Joseph. Furthermore, it is important that each person commit themselves to participation in the other services of the Church, including Saturday evening Great Vespers, Sunday morning Orthros, feast-day liturgies, and the other regular and occasional services offered by the Church, as well as following the Ecclessiastical Calendar.
Fulfillment of our commitment to Christ and to the Church also requires the stewardship of our resources in a manner which follows with the precepts of the Gospel. This includes a commitment on our part to support the local Church through the offering of our financial resources as well as of our own unique gifts and talents. In order to be a "member in good standing" of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, each person or family must make a financial commitment (pledge) to the church on an annual basis. and fulfill that commitment throughout the year. Members are encouraged to use a "percentage giving" method, whereby each person or family sets aside a certain percentage of their income for the church. It is understood that situations change and unforeseen events arise; a pledge may therefore be amended by simply calling the Church office. It should be emphasized, moreover, that our stewardship commitment goes far beyond financial matters; it is rather a commitment of the totality of life to God. Stewardship, therefore, also includes volunteering to serve on church boards, helping to organize and execute church functions, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, cleaning and maintaining the Church, and other forms of ministry; it is engagement in the total life of the church.
The fulfillment of our commitment to the Church last of all includes our commitment to live within the canonical standards which the Church has established as normative for the life of every Orthodox Christian. Such standards are not intended as limits upon our freedom, but should rather be understood as constituting the very basis for the communal life of the Orthodox Church. These include the following:
- Each person must have been baptized and chrismated (confirmed) in the Orthodox Church; in the case of one converting to the Orthodox Church from another Christian confession, he/she must have been baptized in a manner acceptable to the Orthodox Church (generally defined as baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within the context of a church which confesses the doctrine of the Holy Trinity), and have been chrismated in the Orthodox Church.
- If married, the couple must either have been married within the Orthodox Church, or had their marriage blessed within the Orthodox Church.
- If a divorce occurs between a couple married within the Orthodox Church or whose marriage has been blessed in the Orthodox Church, an official ecclesiastical divorce must be procured from the Archdiocese.
Orthodox Christians are not permitted to receive the sacraments of other Christian churches; to do so is regarded as tantamount to embracing the faith of the other church over against that of the Orthodox Church. Any person, therefore, who has participated in the sacraments of another church is ineligible to receive the sacraments of the Orthodox Church until he/she has been received back into sacramental communion by a priest through the rite of Confession.
The Church's canonical regulations are closely linked to its liturgical and sacramental life; it is therefore essential to note that any person who does not fulfill the above canonical requirements is not eligible to receive the sacraments of the Orthodox Church, to serve as either a godparent (nounos/nouna) at a baptism or a sponsor (koumbaros/koumbara) at a wedding, or to receive an Orthodox funeral.