Story of Faith and Finances: Hayter

The Fruit of the Tithe: Our Stewardship Story
By Paul and Joy Hayter

My wife and I have been parishioners at St. Jude’s for about eight years. We have been married for nine years, and were drawn here because my father is here, and because in our marriage, it was important for us to find to find a church home together. We were both Episcopalians when we met; I was raised and confirmed in the Catholic Church and Joy in the Methodist Church. But it was grace in action, the Lord’s blessing, which brought us together both of us looking for a person of faith. My wife and I are also called to tithe to St Jude’s.

I have always given to the church. I remember as a child going to Catholic school, being issued with a miniature version of the weekly offering envelope and putting coins into it. After a church hiatus starting in University, I returned to the church. This return was a difficult time for me. Having recently divorced; I was not in a situation where I could give much emotionally, time-wise, or financially. But I found a very giving and supportive community and covenant group. It took me a year or so to retake communion because I was in such an emotionally numb state.

The rector at my church made quite an impression on me, and was significant in my faith development. I remember in particular one sermon he gave during Stewardship month. He said that the natural response of a truly grateful person is to give. He said, “What do you do when given a box of chocolates at Christmas? You offer them to others – you share.” I could see that, almost viscerally. The rector also preached the tithe as a mark of discipleship. So I thought: “I don’t know if I can do that. I am divorced – joint-custody with two kids.” So I decided if I could stretch a start at 5%, and then increase by that 10% per year, eventually I would get to a tithe.

While working, I met other Christians, and came to the understanding that all blessings come from God, ultimately for God’s purpose. Returning a portion of the gifts that God blessed me with did not seem so outlandish, so the bridge from 5% to 10% did not take as long as I expected, and did not hurt the way I anticipated. So now, the question is not about increasing a standard of living, but increasing a standard of giving.

Why give to St Jude’s? Others will give to Save the Whales, but we are experiencing the St Jude’s community. And while the scriptures in Deuteronomy 14:23 say:

“Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. “

This scripture quote describes benefiting from the fruit of the tithe. Our consumption of our pledge is our clergy, Godly Play, the forums, the music, and many other ministries, too numerous to mention. So the tithe is given so that we may enjoy and share its abundance in community both here and with our neighbors and partners in outreach. This is why Joy and I choose to tithe. 

 

Whoever you are, wherever you are on your journey of faith, you are welcome here.