Clergy focus on how they deal with money in their own lives

September 30, 2004

"Nobody had ever asked me if I tithed,' said the Rev. Kirk Alan Kubicek to Diocese of Bethlehem clergy at a Ministry of Money clergy day. "Nobody asked me if I gave any money to the church. And here I was, ordained a priest."

Kubicek, rector of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Ellicott City, Maryland, a gifted stewardship consultant, has worked with parishes and dioceses across the country on issues of mission, conversion, commitment and on how the sacraments shape and inform our life in Christ. He and Kevin Cashman, a layman who serves as director of Ministry of Money, led an all-day workshop for some 70 clergy, September 23 at St. Stephen's Church, Wilkes-Barre.

The workshop was designed to help clergy reflect, from a faith perspective, on their relationship to money. It was planned by diocesan stewardship committee members Dan Charney and George Maniatty.

"Money is a paradox in our culture," the Ministry of Money website states. "It enslaves, yet it also frees; it is intensely private, but it is also very public; it measures worth, yet it is no measure of real worth; it destroys yet also creates."

Clergy at the workshop spent time identifying money patterns in their family of origin and their present family and were encouraged to consider their "money journey" and to write their "money autobiography."

Among questions discussed and reflected on were: Who handled the money in your family of origin? How did they handle the money? Was money discussed? Was money supply abundant/scarce? Who handles the money in your present family? How do they handle the money? Is money easily discussed? Is money supply abundant/scarce? What feelings are brought to the surface when I look at and reflect upon this information?

A Christian ministry that grew out of Church of the Savior, Washington, D.C., Ministry of Money,, based in Germantown, Maryland, provides weekend retreats, resources, pilgrimages to developing countries and one-day workshops to help people explore, understand and address issues of money and faith in their own lives as well as in their families, political systems, institutions and world.

Preaching during a midday Eucharist, Bishop Paul Marshall referred to his understanding of sacrifice in the eucharistic context as surrender, the "total self-giving offering to God" of Jesus. "We can't be wrapped up in Christ's self-giving and be grasping at the same time," he said. "Beautiful peole are generous people."

During earlier discussion, the bishop asked if there should ever be "a Eucharist without an offering." The result of that discussion was a decision to include in the midday Eucharist an offering to be given to the discretionary fund of the rector of St. Peter's, Tunkhannock, the church that was severely damaged, if not destroyed, by Hurricane Ivan. During his Sunday visitation with the people of St. Peter's, worshipping at the local Seventh Day Adventist church, Bishop Paul presented the rector with some $800 from the clergy of the diocese.

Workshop leaders distributed a copy of "Signatures (of bishops and deputies) collected in affirmation [of] Resolution A135 on Holy Habits" of the 2003 General Convention. The resolution encouraged all Episcopalians "to develop a personal spiritual discipline that includes, at the minimum, the holy habits of tithing, daily personal prayer and study, Sabbath time and weekly corporate worship." The signatures were attached to the following declaration: "As Christian stewards and leaders of the Episcopal Church, we affirm that we are tithing, or have adopted a plan to work toward tithing as a minimum standard of our giving; and that, if we are not already doing so, we have committed to give priority to public worship, personal daily prayer and study and Sabbath time in our own lives; and we invite all members of the Episcopal Church to join us in these holy habits."

During his workshop presentation, Kubicek referred to a passage from Quaker writer Richard Foster's book, The Challenge of the Disciplined Life (formerly titled Money, Sex and Power): "G "God's ownership of everything changes the kind of question we ask in giving. Rather than, ‘How much of my money should I give to God?' we learn to ask, ‘How much of God's money should I keep for myself?'" The difference between these two questions is of monumental proportions.

He also referenced the following (attribution unknown): "I've learned that when I pay my tithe first there is always enough left to pay my bills, but when I pay my bills first there is never enough left to pay my tithe."

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