A Connectional Success Story: Stewardship for the Small Membership Congregation


Submitted by Central United Methodist Church

"Celebrating the offering is a spiritual act of worship every believer can actively participate in each week.  Giving becomes a celebration when the believer discovers the joy of generosity, which grows out of God's grace."
-- Melvin Amerson, Celebrating the Offering
L to R: Rev. Melvin Amerson, 
Pat Whitlock, Martha Scarborough 
and Rev. Stephen Cook.

On Saturday, May 4, the Rev. Melvin Amerson, stewardship consultant with the Texas Methodist Foundation, and Martha Scarborough, executive director of the Mississippi United Methodist Foundation, facilitated a stewardship workshop at Jackson's Central United Methodist Church.
What began as a way for Pat Whitlock, the newly selected stewardship committee chairperson, to increase stewardship education for the Central UMC congregation became a way to help similar small membership churches.  According to Whitlock, "I had envisioned a workshop just for my church.  However, as I began to plan, I realized that other similarly-situated churches could possibly benefit, and the planning was put into high gear."

Melvin Amerson
Rev. Melvin Amerson, 
speaks on stewardship.

Central UMC's host committee used the theme 'Generous Living' as a way to stress that stewardship is not just about giving money or even just about giving.  Letters were sent to 82 pastors in the West Jackson and East Jackson districts, inviting the pastors, finance chairs, stewardship chairs, treasurers and/or lay leader to attend.  Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. also endorsed the workshop and followed up with the invited churches.  While the workshop was targeted to the East and West Jackson districts, members from the Brookhaven, Greenwood, Hattiesburg, Meridian, and Seashore districts also attended. 
During the workshop, 23 churches were represented by more than 60 participants who learned new ways to holistically incorporate giving in both worship and everyday life.  Amerson used his book,Celebrating the Offering, as one resource to redefine generosity and rediscover the offering as a form of worship, while Martha Scarborough, executive director of the Mississippi United Methodist Foundation offered highlights of the vast resources that the Mississippi Methodist Foundation offers.  To enhance what was presented during the workshop, each church received a complimentary copy of Amerson's book.

Feedback indicated that the workshop was more than worth the $10 fee (for lunch) and that more sessions of this nature, sponsored by districts or the Mississippi Conference, are needed.