Ideas and Resources to Support Parish Ministry, Part III

Ideas and Resources to Support Parish Ministry, Part III

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Keep the ideas of Stewardship in Front of the People

Stewardship brochures from past years going back to 2010 are available upon request from the Department. This is an excellent way to continue to educate and inspire parish members in the principles of stewardship.

Parish Management Software

Many parishes utilize church management software programs to assist in compiling and managing Stewardship information. Information provided by church management programs assists parish ministries by providing a dynamic record of member families and their parish involvements. This software is invaluable to a strong Stewardship Program, providing information needed for ministry to specific segments of the parish.

For several years, the Archdiocese had a standing joint Committee on Parish Management Software that worked in cooperation with National Stewardship Ministries, and the Archdiocese Departments of Administration, Finance and Information Technologies. The Committee was made up of individuals with expertise and experience in project management, software engineering, accounting, tax law, parish management and more. This committee met with the management teams of the top parish software providers, evaluated parish management software programs available and chose Parish Data Systems (PDS), a subsidiary of ACS, as the most suitable program for the needs of our parishes. Benefits include favorable pricing due to number of parishes, greater ease of reporting to the Metropolis and Archdiocese through compatible formats, and better support through improved communication between parishes and the software provider. The rollout for implementation in the parishes is currently underway. Parishes that adopt in the initial phase of the program will receive the software, training and migration of data with funding provided by the Archdiocese.  The Archdiocese recently created a full-time position to manage the implementation and ongoing operation of the Parish Software Initiative.

Parish Print and Electronic Media

As mentioned above, the message of Stewardship can be reinforced through brochures, posters, the parish newsletter, the Sunday bulletin, E-Bulletins (www.bulletin.goarch.org), the parish web site, the parish e-mail list (a free service of the Archdiocese) and more. The stewardship team may also choose to produce a parish Stewardship Newsletter, depicting active parish life and offering inspirational messages and updates on stewardship commitments year-to-date. Visit www.Stewardship.goarch.org for stewardship articles & reflections which may be included in your various parish media.

Personal Follow-up Letters

Personal follow-up letters will support the stewardship effort.

Consider sending a personalized thank you letter for:

  • each stewardship commitment;
  • offerings at year-end; and
  • offering of time and talent after a parish function or activity.

New Stewards

Orthodox Christians become Stewards of your Parish as a part of their spiritual growth. Stewardship is sign of spiritual maturity through which we understand the need to serve and to give. Other factors leading others us to be good stewards are a good Christian Education, a sense of belonging & participation, effective Youth Ministries, and the desire to take part in the sacraments and rites of the Church. When individuals indicate an interest in becoming Stewards of your parish, church leaders should personally give the prospective Stewards a Welcome Packet which would include Enrollment Information which they are to complete and return. The Priest and the Stewardship Committee Chair may choose to arrange for an introductory meeting with prospective and new Stewards. This will provide an opportunity to familiarize them with the Parish Ministries and the Stewardship Program. Welcome Folders are available from the Department of Stewardship, Outreach and Evangelism.

New Steward Enrollment Information Welcome Folder

The Stewardship Enrollment Information Packet might include:

  • An Invitation Letter, personally inviting the individuals to become Stewards, with a short description of their responsibilities;
  • A Family Information Card;
  • A Stewardship Commitment Card and return envelope;
  • Additional parish information – current bulletin, newsletter, etc.;
  • A relevant brochure from Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism; and
  • A planned giving brochure to encourage larger gifts and bequests.

New Steward Enrollment Procedure

The Family Information Card and Stewardship Commitment Card should be completed and returned to the Church Office and be entered into the parish database. The new Stewards will then receive all parish communications and offering envelopes and be entered as subscribers to the Orthodox Observer. Some parishes offer online enrollment and pledging through the parish website.

Collection / Methods of Payment

Offering Basket: During the Sunday Divine Liturgy, weekly stewardship envelopes may be placed in the offering tray passed during Divine Liturgy or placed in an appropriate location in the narthex.

By Mail: Regular weekly or monthly stewardship contributions may be mailed to the church office. Stewards should use offering envelopes or clearly indicate their membership number so that the purpose of their contribution is clear to those who process the payment.

Online Bill Payment through the Members’ Bank: More and more people handle their financial commitments electronically. This is a very suitable method for offering our “first fruits” to the Lord rather than offering only that which remains. Stewards may very easily set up automatic periodic payments from their bank to the church in fulfillment of their stewardship obligation. A payment module may also be added to the parish web site.

Electronic Payment through the Parish Website: Many parishes have set up links on their parish web site permitting individuals to submit their financial support through an online credit or debit payment. We suggest Vanco Services (www.vancoservices.com) for electronic payment of stewardship donations through the parish website. Vanco’s fees are reasonable and their programs are compatible with Parish Data Systems, the provider of parish management software adopted by the Archdiocese. They can also accommodate the use of credit cards for purchases in the parish bookstore and more.

Smartphone Applications: Smartphone applications are available for individuals to make spontaneous donations by text message or other online communication.

 

Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Stewardship Resources Handbook for 2017; for more information also see Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Stewardship Ministries.

As part of an on-going series on stewardship, OCN is pleased to share excerpts from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Stewardship Resources Handbook for 2017.  This series hopes to assist your parish Stewardship team in getting started and planning a full year of Stewardship Ministry. The handbook contains guidelines for preparation of a parish Stewardship Program, updated letters, a sample commitment card and new member card, various campaign formats and ideas for parish stewardship ministry.

Funding for news from this department is provided through the support of OCN viewers and by Leadership 100. 

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