Pastors appreciate stewardship resources; ‘Rooted in Love’ now available for fall campaigns

How do you build an effective stewardship campaign?  Ask a pastor who has done just that.

That’s what the United Church of Christ OPTIC team did when it came time to develop this year’s stewardship theme materials.

The Rev. Andrew Warner said it was an easy decision to include church pastors in writing the bulletin inserts and other campaign resources around the 2021 theme, “Rooted in Love.”

“The materials are drawing on the wisdom and practices from our local congregations,” said Warner, the UCC generosity outreach officer. “We thought by asking more users to write the materials, they would resonate more.”

Warner noted that the stewardship theme materials also intentionally reflect the 2021 General Synod theme, which draws inspiration from Psalm 1: “They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season.” “The excellent worship resources created for General Synod can easily be used in a local campaign ” he said.

Adaptable to many media

The new stewardship materials now available from UCC Resources help congregations tell their story while making a request for financial support.

The Rev. Amy Carter, pastor of Mayflower United Church of Christ, Billings, Mont., incorporated the prayers and pledge cards into the church campaign she built using the 2020 stewardship resources.

“We used ‘Beloved Love,’ for our stewardship campaign last year,” she said, noting she tied the theme to the 3 Great Loves campaign. “It was the first time we used the UCC resources in the three years I have been at this church. We also used the logo of the campaign in all our print, social media and video campaign. 

“I really appreciated being able to use Christopher Grundy’s video of the theme song. And there were some video testimonials by Rev. Traci Blackmon and a few others that I also incorporated into worship. The handbook with all the resources, including sample sermons, the letter from Rev. John Dorhauer, and the worship materials were really helpful.”

Carter said she adapted the prayers that came with the resources to fit her services and used images from the 3 Great Loves theme in the videos she created. She’d also like to see more artwork.

“As we move our lives more and more into the digital sphere, it would be helpful to me to have resources that would help create posts on Facebook or other social media campaigns,” she said. “Having access to logos or other pieces of artwork for the use of the campaign is very helpful.”

Customized, or ‘plug-and-play’

The 2021 materials available from UCC Resources include everything needed to run an effective campaign. In addition to bulletin inserts, pledge cards and graphics, a campaign guide provides support for leaders running their first campaign and offers suggestions for those looking to customize stewardship messages to their own setting.

Warner said OPTIC wanted to provide a product that works for a wide range of churches.

“For those with limited capacity to rework, it’s a plug-and-play product,” he said. “Others, like Amy, customize the resources to build on the materials to suit their local church.”

Themes endure

The Rev. Eric Ogi, pastor of The Federated Church of Sycamore, Ill., has been using the UCC resources to build a campaign for the two years he’s been serving the church.

“We’ve used the basic theme to ground our season of stewardship both years,” he said. “The example letters to the congregation have been the most helpful, as I’ve noticed our lay leaders more or less using them as-is,” he said. “We’ve used the bulletin inserts as supplements for reflection.”

Ogi said his church also repurposed the resources during the pandemic.

He said that the 2019 stewardship resources, “The Way,” helped foster conversations around what it means to follow in the way of Jesus. So in March 2020, as COVID-19 took hold, The Federated Church started a community relief fund.

People pay it forward

“Using the language of the way of Jesus and anticipating our 2020 fall theme of love, we used scripture’s invitation to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:1) and to ‘provoke one another to bold acts of love’ (Hebrews 10:24) as a way of giving our congregation a call to action in the face of this historic crisis,” he said.

“By inviting people in our church and in the community beyond to pay forward their $1,200 stimulus check, we raised $19,900! These donations were then deposited into our pastoral emergency account, which allowed us to more quickly get money to those who needed it the most.

“In a year where we could not ‘go to church,’ it was also a powerful opportunity to remind ourselves what it truly means to be the church and to give ourselves to love,” Ogi said. “This past fall, the UCC’s resources helped us to tell this story and make it come alive.”

Rooted in Love stewardship resources that help pastors tell the story of Our Church’s Wider Mission are available for purchase for download. Printed materials are also available for purchase in a bundle or individually from UCC Resources.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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