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Second United Methodist Summit on Christian Stewardship draws representatives from United Methodist Agencies

Claudia M. Williams

United Methodist Southwest Texas Conference Staff Writer

Representatives of 13 denomination wide agencies recently gathered in San Antonio for a second United Methodist Summit on Christian Stewardship.

The Summit, sponsored by The United Methodist Church Foundation, asked agency leaders to consider stewardship growth and fund development.

“This is an opportunity for the 13 general agencies to come together to see how they might have a role in their financial future,” said Byrd L. Bonner, foundation executive director. “That future could be from apportionment giving from local churches or from individual or planned giving from individuals who love and are passionate about their ministry.”

The foundation, formed to support ministries of general agencies, conducted its first summit more than two years ago in Atlanta, said Bonner. This summit was the continuation of a journey begun then.

“We are now ready to move to some more nuts-and-bolts training on planned giving and development,” Bonner said. “We’re now ready to focus our lenses in on specific training for agencies that are ready for it.”

The 100 summit participants included agency chief executives, staff members and elected directors, each selected specifically for the task, Bonner said. Participants examined:

  • Current funding sources and trends.
  • Explored new opportunities for funding outside apportionments, Special Sunday giving and investment growth.
  • Brainstormed about critical elements necessary to develop an effective fund-raising campaign.

Cashar W. Evans Jr., president of The United Methodist Church Foundation, said agency representatives were brought together to “understand fully the impact of making stewardship a core value of making disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Barbara Ford Young, a member of St. Paul, UMC, San Antonio, was part of the General Board of Church and Society delegation.

“The agencies are funded by apportionments for the most part,” she said. “If it becomes necessary for the general agencies to play a part in a stewardship drive, how would we do that?”

Representatives are to take information and ideas gleaned from the summit back to their agencies for further discussion during fall meetings, she said.

“The summit provided a much-need forum for the general agencies to give substance to dreams of endowing their ministries for the future,” Bonner said. “It planted some seeds for conversation so that individual United Methodists make as part of their walk with Jesus a way to take care of the treasures God has entrusted to them.”

Three San Antonio United Methodist congregations played host to the summit: Travis Park UMC, St. Paul UMC and La Trinidad UMC. Each presented a “Ministry Spotlight” to the group. Those presentations allowed meeting participants to learn about work being done in each church.

That, Bonner said, was a “clear reminder to the general agencies of what they do in disciple-making in the local churches.”