At St Thomas, stewardship is about much more than money. It’s about how the parish makes the best use of all its resources in order to carry out its ministries. These include its financial resources, its people (clergy and lay), and its property and buildings. We are also conscious of our environmental responsibility, to steward and protect God’s Creation. Our Stewardship Committee leads our work in these areas.
Our financial resources
In addition to weekly Offertory envelopes, St Thomas uses Pre-Authorized Responses (PAR), which are automatic monthly deductions from participants’ bank accounts, transferred to the church. PAR helps stabilize the parish’s cash flow during periods when attendance is relatively low, and makes its financial planning easier. We conduct an annual stewardship campaign in which parish members are asked to intentionally and prayerfully decide how they will financially support the parish in the next year, and to pledge that amount. While not legally binding, this does represent an intentional decision and commitment. The campaign features a Narrative Budget that reports briefly on the parish’s ministries and asks readers to continue to support them in the next year.
St Thomas also seeks to remind parish members of the importance of Legacy Giving – to remember the parish in wills and bequests. It has produced several explanatory documents which can be used in different contexts. We are also creating a wall plaque to recognize Legacy Gifts.
Our ‘People’ resources and our welcoming ministry
At St Thomas, welcoming and integrating newcomers is a key contributor to parish renewal – the replenishment of its ‘people resources’. We have sought to celebrate new parish members with specific events, such as newcomer breakfasts. We also hold an annual dinner to simply celebrate our parish life – our people. Here, fellowship and friendship are the sole agenda items. St Thomas also provides newcomers with information booklets and brochures on the parish. These are available for pick-up in the Narthex. At St Thomas, recognizing volunteer ministries, and thanking those who take the time perform them, is also important. Sunday 10:00 am services often feature a program called ‘Ministry Moments’, in which a selected volunteer ministry is highlighted in a brief presentation during the post-service announcements. A spokesperson describes the ministry and asks those ministry participants present to stand and be recognized and thanked.
Our Environmental Awareness
Several years ago we commissioned a Green Audit of the parish buildings seeking to find ways to reduce our ‘carbon footprint’. A number of recommendations emerged, which we continue to follow up. We are also currently working with Greening Sacred Spaces (an ecumenical environmental group) to monitor our ongoing energy and water use to help provide incentives to further improve our building’s energy efficiency.
Community Consultations - Engaging with our community
St Thomas represents the Anglican Church of Canada in Alta Vista and South Ottawa. It is therefore important that we be aware, and stay aware, of the social needs and priorities of our neighbours. Every two or three years we host a Community Consultation, to which we invite representatives of key community organizations and associations, faith groups, schools, etc., to discuss emerging community needs and priorities. Results of these conversations help us strengthen our community networks and shape our own parish actions.