Virginia Conference to sponsor stewardship workshops for local churches

A top professional consulting company will conduct a series of church stewardship workshops throughout the Virginia Conference this fall as part of the conference’s “All Things New” strategy to revitalize existing congregations and start new faith communities.

Click here for schedule of workshops

James D. Klote and Associates, a fundraising consulting firm based in Fall Church, is organizing the free workshops. The company has more than 20 years of experience doing capital and stewardship campaign consulting with churches, the majority being United Methodist churches.

“We heard many of you, lay and clergy, express concern about your own stewardship efforts in your local church,” said Bishop Charlene Kammerer and conference Lay Leader Shirley Cauffman in a joint statement announcing the series of workshops. “As a specific way to assist our congregations, we are responding by offering 18 district Stewardship Education workshops this fall. Resource persons from our consultant firm, James D. Klote and Associates, will work with district leadership to plan and lead these workshops.

Jim Klote leads a stewardship workshop.

“Along with the 5 Talent Academy, these workshops are another way we can help renew existing congregations, especially in the area of stewardship. This series of education and training events are designed to equip and empower the clergy and laity of every local church with practical skills and principles that can be transformational in the financial stewardship of any local church,” the statement said.

Jim Klote, president of Klote and Associates, said Virginia Conference local church leaders support the goals of All Things New – to start 250 new faith communities and revitalize existing congregations – but are nervous about their own balance sheets.

“In doing the funding campaign feasibility study we met with about 900 people, individually and in groups, about half clergy and half laity, and All Things New received overwhelming support,” Klote said. “However because of the current economic downturn, the message was that the local churches are concerned about meeting their annual budgets. Giving on the whole is down. In response to that message, the All Things New Feasibility Study Committee decided it wanted to do something more to help empower local church stewardship. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the conference to demonstrate that it’s not just ‘taking money’ from churches but is providing help in an important area that churches care about.”

“Local churches are facing unusual circumstances as they navigate financial challenges they may never have faced before,” said the Rev. Marc Brown, the conference director of Connectional Ministries. “These challenges can either cause a church to question its survival or ask how it can move forward into a new day of ministry. In response to the questions that churches raised through the All Things New feasibility study, these 18 district stewardship workshops are being offered to help local churches answer the financial stewardship questions they are facing. This is an unusual response to unusual circumstances. This is All Things New.”

Klote gave a brief preview of one of the key ideas that will be offered at the workshops.

“There are a lot of ways to raise money. We do it face-to-face, peer visiting peer, which is absolutely the best approach. Churches must employ this method to be successful because of the current economy. There are fewer dollars and more competition. People will not give if they simply get a letter. The old methods of doing a stewardship campaign will not work.

“There will be a workshop in every district and we hope to get representatives from every church,” Klote added.

The workshops will be for lay and clergy, said Klote. “We hope to have a representative from every church in the conference,” he said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the conference to demonstrate its concern for all the member churches.”

Everyone is invited to the workshops, but pastors and stewardship/finance leaders are especially encouraged to attend.

“Working with Jim Klote was like gaining a D.Min. in stewardship,” said the Rev. Tom Berlin, pastor at Floris UMC where Klote conducted a stewardship campaign. “I was grateful for his straightforward approach to financial stewardship that enabled me to have conversations about money matters that led to deeper pastoral conversations with our members. The principles Jim teaches help laity connect the ministry they want to enable with the financial resources God is calling them to steward for the kingdom. If there are ministries you are trying to sustain or new opportunities you hope to pursue, meeting the resource challenge in the local church is pivotal in fulfilling the calling of your congregation. I’m grateful, especially in the current economy, to have gained the insights into financial stewardship Jim offers.”

“All Things New has already begun to be integrated into the work and action of our church life and business,” said Carl Moravitz, chair of the Feasibility Study committee. “This is an exciting time in the life of our church, as we embrace a commitment of will and spirit for investing in the future of the Virginia Conference. Our discussions over the past year with local churches and districts have lead to a desire to together enrich our stewardship understandings. Stewardship is so much a part of our individual growth and our mission work beyond our church doors. Stewardship and discipleship go hand in hand. Through them, we learn that all of our gifts – our talents, our skills, our relationships, our resources – are part of God’s total creation.”

-- by Neill Caldwell, editor of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate


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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
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