Alleluia! Thanks be to God!
Years ago I found myself working in stewardship, first at my church, and then at the diocese, and eventually at the provincial level. What I learned about stewardship in that decade or so of my life changed how I see myself and how I see the world.
I went into the role of stewardship chair in a fairly professional manner, working with churches as they itemized what was needed, counted all that we didn’t have, seeing all that we lacked as individuals and as a church to do our work. In short order that ‘needs-based’ view painted the world to me as a dark, place, full of scarcity, where I and everyone else were mostly inadequate to face the deep injustices and inequities of a world largely full of bad news. For me, it came to feel like I was working under a dark and oppressive cloud.
One day I listened for perhaps the 200th time to the story of God creating us. At the end of each day of separating land from sea, of bringing forth vegetation and animals, of letting there be light, God looked around and said ‘And it was good!’ It came to me that this was a much better way to end a day than itemizing all that had been left undone! I decided I too wanted to end each day by looking back and seeing the goodness, the Good News of the day! Then it truly hit me that I was seeking the Gospel.
Stewardship at that point became ‘gift-based’ for me rather than ‘needs-based.’ The world is still a place where injustice and inequity exist, but I believe by recognizing the abundant gifts we have, by calling them out into use, by sharing them, by working together using our God-given gifts, we can truly and joyously make a difference. In this manner, by being Good News people, I believe we are living the Gospel.
I see the Alleluia Fund of the Diocese as a vital part of the Good News/Gospel in our diocese. My gift and the gifts of others to the Alleluia Fund go directly to many entities in the diocese which benefit deeply. Each of these entities is eager to share with you the differences that Alleluia funds have made in their mission and ministry. To them, our gifts are part of the Good News!
Ross Wisnewski, a life-long Episcopalian, is a member of St. Mary’s in Sparta where she has joyfully given in many ways - as a vestry member, warden, treasurer, chair of the stewardship committee, Sunday school teacher for the teens, etc. At the diocesan level, Ross has been chair of the Stewardship Commission, a convention delegate, a member of the Fund Development Committee, and a committee member of the Gertrude Butts Memorial Fund. She is a David P. Hegg II Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Ross also sits on the New Jersey Historical Society board. An economist, Ross received her degree at the University of South Carolina and has worked extensively on energy conservation projects. A proud stepmother and grandmother, avid gardener, devoted dog and cat adopter, intrepid traveler, Ross finds it hard to narrow her focus. She and her husband George Reeves spilt their time between New Jersey and New Orleans where they are renovating an historic home and attend Trinity Church.
In 2013, the collective generosity of our contributors provided funding for 35 congregation-based or -affiliated programs (see the 2013 Grant Report). This year, more than 30 programs requested a total of $273,350 in Alleluia grants. The Alleluia Fund grant board's recommendations will be submitted to Diocesan Council on December 10 and grant recipients will be announced in the December 18 VOICE Online.