Giving Our Thanks and Praise delivers renewed stewardship model for parishes

A new parish giving program is receiving positive reviews from early adopters in the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia.

Giving Our Thanks and Praise (GOTP) is a program designed for clergy and lay people to help promote stewardship within the Anglican Church of Canada. It provides tools – such as a program guide and a planning workbook – that lay out different models of effective stewardship in parishes.

The program also supports key development areas such as putting together a giving team; inspiring and motivating parishes and congregations; and thanking and expressing gratitude to those that give their time, talent and treasure.

Susan Graham Walker, the General Synod stewardship ministry associate in Resources for Mission, has seen successful adoption of the program at the diocesan level, and the GOTP program is available online.

In June 2018, Walker travelled to the Diocese of British Columbia to lead a series of workshops on GOTP. Over the course of a week, she spoke to 150 people representing 90 per cent of parishes in the diocese, distributing copies of the GOTP program to each parish.

“What I’ve been trying to do is to work through diocese by diocese to establish [a custom] strategy for implementing [the program],” Walker said.

This fall, Walker will facilitate an upcoming conference on GOTP with a group of congregations from the Diocese of Ottawa, and in October will be presenting on GOTP at the synod of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. Parishes in the Diocese of Huron have also begun using the program.

Brian Evans is the stewardship leader at the Diocese of British Columbia, and notes that many parishes appreciate the simplicity of the program.

“I would say the feedback at this time [among] the people who have started to seriously look at the program [is that] it’s a very positive response, and people are saying this can work,” Evans said.

“I’ve worked in stewardship for 25, 30 years in the church,” he added. “A lot of the programs I found were so detail-oriented […] There are so many steps, so many hoops to jump through, that [many parishes] look at it and say, ‘Well, we haven’t got that kind of time,’ or ‘We haven’t got the kind of personnel to lead all these steps.’”

By contrast, Evans said, “You can adjust the [GOTP] program to fit the parish and to fit the capability of the parish. And that, I think, is so important … This program gives you lots of options so that you can make it fit the community.”

One of the parishes that has embraced GOTP is St. Peter and St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Victoria, B.C. The parish began by hosting a dessert evening at which its executive team made a presentation on stewardship, with the rector and two wardens describing their own faith journeys and the work of the parish.

Treasurer Lynn Schumacher then provided financial facts and details that broke down the impact of good stewardship on the church. For example, she informed those in attendance that an increase in giving by as little as $2 per month among 50 parishioners could pay the cost of a particular utility for one month.

“I was quite encouraged that a quick, relatively effortless attempt using the professional materials made available to us through GOTP brought positive results,” Schumacher said of her parish’s use of the program.

She described being “revitalized” after attending the training workshop with Graham Walker, and that St. Peter and St. Paul’s would “definitely” be using GOTP more in the future.

“We know our givings have to improve, but we also accepted that we need to say thank you more than we have done in past,” Schumacher said. “The smiles and appreciation a few thank-you cards produced was amazing. Now we need to build on that.”

At the end of September, the Diocese of B.C. will hold its diocesan synod, where it will look into the possibility of a new capital program in conjunction with using GOTP as an annual stewardship program.

“If we use the [GOTP] program the way it’s designed, I think it will bring positive results not just in the sense of raising money, but in the sense of raising awareness of stewardship and the old phrase we used to use, a ‘whole-life stewardship’,” Evans said. “I think that it will encourage people and strengthen people in the life of the church and in the life of their community and their personal lives.”

Resources for Giving Our Thanks and Praise are available free online and can be used by any diocese or parish.

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