Irrespective of how many times you go to Church, be it every week, monthly or twice a year we all need to take and have some responsibility to our Holy Church. If we choose not to then inevitable we will cease to exist as a Parish.
Many of our Churches including non Orthodox jurisdictions are facing significant issues in maintaining viable communities. Since 1949, each wave of migration has seen growth and also unfortunately loss of parishioners. We have built churches, halls, and parish houses and yet some are either partially completed or under used. Financial constraints have seemed to always plague our communities. It always seems to fall on a handful of people to keep the Parish moving forward and many of our internal issues have stifled growth over the decades. Into the future this is unsustainable, we can’t rely on a few zabave each year and modest Church attendances to ensure our sustainability. Our Parish is not alone with this challenge. Integration within the Australian society is being challenged by assimilation and faces every parish in Australia. This is also the case in other parts of the Diaspora. It is time to face up to a significant issue, affecting our parish and that of many others around the country.
What is the answer? How do we solve this issue? How do we secure the viability of our Parish and continue to grow? Firstly each parishioner needs to accept a certain amount of responsibility. If we choose not to, then the future is bleak. Having said that, there is an answer, and that is, stewardship!
The Parish has created a new fund (Parish Project Fund) which will finance all current and future projects. The project is simple in nature, however we hope and pray its effectiveness will be momentous. Each and every family within the parish will be asked to contribute $50 on a monthly basis. By making a single amount across the whole parish we ensure there are no large or small donations, everyone contributes the same across the parish. This represents less than $2 per day per family. All proceeds from this fund will go towards parish projects; this is its sole purpose.
You just need to review what has happened in the last five years: church hall improvements (air conditioning), modifications to the church (candle rooms), frescoing of the church, and a parish residence. These are great outcomes for our Parish; however we need to do more if we want to ensure our future success.
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The Stewardship Program
With this information we have also enclosed, a notification letter, return envelope and a small reminder card with the account details. Please complete the attached Stewardship Notification form and return to the Church address. With the account details reminder card you need to make the crucial step of going to your bank and organising direct debit payments of $50 to the Parish Project Fund. This can also be organised online. Please make sure you quote your name and surname on any automatic payments. This will ensure that we have accurate records on which parishioners are participating in the program. At the end of each financial year all participants of the Stewardship program will receive a receipt and importantly each year the parish priest will read out on Easter Liturgy the list of participants and express the Parish’s thanks and gratitude.
Frequently asked questions
Does the Stewardship program have the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irinej?
Absolutely, His Grace has expressed his joy that the Parish has taken this step.
Are we unique with the Stewardship Program?
Not at all. This system of fund raising is not new. The Parish in New Zealand St King Milutin has adopted this model of fundraising and with only 60 families have in five years purchased a home and land and successfully paid off the loan and now are embarking on building a church.
When do I start to contribute?
Since September 2009 the parish priest and the committee have already commenced monthly contributions.
How long do I need to contribute?
As long as we are building and expanding our Church School complex.
How can I afford $50 if I am on limited income?
We ask people to contribute according to their means; however even $1 per day would be a great help.
What if I don’t have any spare cash?
We are not asking for more than you can afford, rather we are asking for all of us to take some responsibility, and sacrifice for our Parish.
My children are grown up I don’t need to worry about a school!
Maybe so, but what about grandchildren, great grandchildren and future generations? We need to think about the generations of Orthodox Serbs who will be born in this country.
What do other church stewardship programs ask for as a financial commitment?
Other Christian denominations have amounts of 10% of gross income per person and in some cases even more. Serbs in North America contribute between 3% and 5% per annum.
This short introduction about the Stewardship Program is by no means a comprehensive document and may not answer all of your questions. If you have questions and concerns you need to contact Fr Sasa or a Committee member who will explain the details and why we need to act. We need to get serious about our future and get organised. Some will say: “we are unorganised” or “it’s irrelevant” or “it’s too late”, as well as a host of other excuses. If you have any sense of your heritage and feelings towards being Serbian Orthodox then it’s time to do something about it. Don’t make it the responsibility of others take some ownership. Those that do not have a vision will surely whither. Our vision, is to secure our heritage for future generations.
Stewardship, will enable our future success! You can download the Stewardship Form now, thank you.