Story of Faith & Finances: McDonald

Stewardship as a Spiritual Discipline: My Journey

By Juneanne McDonald

October 1, 2017

I was baptized as an infant and later confirmed at Christ Church in Georgetown, Guyana. As a child, I attended weekly services with my family, and remember being given a small amount of cash for the offering. Attending church regularly and giving to the church were expected.

Like many young adults, once I left home for college, I enjoyed the freedom to rest and recuperate on Sunday mornings, and didn’t attend church for several years. On starting my career in Silicon Valley in 1987, I looked for a church, and I came to St. Jude’s after visiting three other churches in the area. I met Bob Mayer who introduced me to several people, and I immediately felt at home.

I attended services infrequently at first, giving a cash offering whenever I did. One Sunday after the service, I was asked to consider joining the choir. Singing in the choir required attendance at weekly practices and services. I got a deeper understanding of stewardship and the importance of making an annual pledge. I learned about St. Jude’s ministries, served as a counter, then ran for Vestry. My understanding of stewardship was that it was a responsibility that enabled the church to be of service to parishioners and to do outreach.

In my second Vestry term, Jeffrey Pugh introduced me to a new view of stewardship and challenged my previous thinking. Jeffrey emphasized the church’s suggested commitment to tithing, introduced stewardship as a spiritual discipline and highlighted the reality that St. Jude’s expenses were starting to exceed annual contributions. I served on the stewardship committee and started to increase my annual pledge with the goal of eventually tithing. I prayed for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in determining my annual pledge, and made a habit of giving an annual check to St. Jude’s.

I continued to give as I experienced God’s love and abundant grace at St. Jude’s. I was lifted up in prayer during job searches, joined a small bereavement group after several parishioners lost a parent, and enjoyed the inclusive welcome extended to my family and friends. I received the eucharist at home after illnesses, and was honored to attend and sing at the memorial services of St. Jude’s members.

Last year, I had a unique experience. I served on the Financial Promise Season committee, prayed once again for God’s guidance in determining my promise, and contributed my annual check. In March 2017, as I gathered documents to prepare my tax return, I realized that my St. Jude’s statement listed two payments, each in the amount of my full promise. I was sure it was a reporting error, but decided to check my checkbook before asking for a correction. I saw that I had indeed paid my 2016 promise twice! I felt as though God had just said “Gotcha!”

I mentioned this error to the pledge secretary who immediately offered to “fix this”, but I gratefully declined, saying “maybe God is trying to tell me something”. I realized that I had asked for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but hadn’t really paused to receive it.

In this year’s Financial Promise Season, I invite you to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, then to humbly pause and receive it. 

 

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