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The 10-member Faithful Stewardship Team, which meets monthly and has gathered together four times so far, is fully into the process known as ‘loving, learning, and leading’. The team’s convener, Rev. Ron Carlson, says, “Our coaches, Betty Stone and Karen Kirkpatrick, have been leading us and guiding us as we’ve learned about each other and tried to get a feel for what was going on – a lot of the preparatory work, developing our team, understanding who we are and what assumptions we operate with. While, at the same time, kind of discerning the values that we have, both preferred and existing values.”
The group has also been working on defining their context, which is a process that includes examining the financial difficulties that people throughout the state are facing. “Some of the rural areas are dependent on farms, and the weather plays such a role in that. We’ve been looking at the finances of individual churches and sections of the state, and then also looking at the conference and how our receipts and expenses are and have been in the past,” explains Rev. Carlson.
Speaking of definitions, the Faithful Stewardship Team has not yet defined for themselves the meaning of stewardship, though Rev. Carlson expects that will come together in an interesting way down the road. Currently, they are most focused on building relationships. While some team members have served together on committees or worked on other teams, they are now getting a chance to develop closer bonds.
“That’s the cool thing about this process is that you get to know people,” says the reverend. “And one of the cool things that we do in our operation team is what we call a ‘know and be known.’ It allows us to go deeper with someone and figure out who they are.”
In the longer term, the Faithful Stewardship Team will be looking at forming a ministry action plan, but they aren’t rushing things too much. “I’m still learning the process as I take part in it. We see a deepening relationship with each member of the team, an understanding of who we are and where we’re at,” he says. “It’s a process that is not going to be a quick answer to anything, and it’s not a program. But it’s built on the need for relationship and how we rely on each other.”