Published March 1, 2007
Springtime in Charleston typically abounds with azaleas in bloom and wonderful “low country” hospitality. Signs of new life can be found all over this historic Southern city. The sixth annual Regional Stewardship Day Conference will reflect this call to new life on Saturday, April 28, at the North Charleston Convention Center, adjacent to the Embassy Suites.
The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is intended for pastors, pastoral administrators, associates, deacons, school principals, directors of religious education, parish and finance council members, stewardship committee members, youth ministers, campus ministers, diocesan, parish and school staffs, and all others interested in embracing stewardship as a way of life.
The conference, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Dioceses of Charlotte, Charleston, Raleigh and Savannah, will help bring the stewardship message alive with keynote speaker, Chuck Zech. He is a professor of economics at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and director of the university’s Center for the Study of Church Management. His talk, titled “Why Catholics Don’t Give … and What Can Be Done About It,” will address topics such as the giving patterns of various groups, the truth about theories that try to explain why Catholics give so little, and things to do to increase contributions. Zech’s talk promises to inspire and motivate everyone to promote stewardship of time, talent and treasure in a way that will truly change a parish.
Six breakout sessions during the one-day conference will cover topics ranging from “Stewardship in a Small Parish” to “Keeping It Alive.” Lois Locey, pastoral associate for administration and stewardship at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Altamonte, Fla., will speak on keeping stewardship alive with proven stewardship ideas that go beyond the basics. Locey is a nationally known speaker and author who has served in parishes in the states of Washington, New York and Florida.
Hospitality is one of the characteristics of a stewardship parish. A panel of speakers from St. Boniface Church in Springfield, Ga., and Precious Blood of Christ Church in Pawley’s Island, S.C., will share ways they promote hospitality in their parishes.
The mega-parish is the exception, not the rule, in rural Southern parishes. Many small parishes don’t even have a resident priest and must find creative ways to promote stewardship. Sister Kieran Williams, IHM, the administrator of Holy Trinity Church in Williamston, N.C., will speak about how to promote stewardship as a way of life in a small parish.
If stewardship is to take root and truly become a way of life for future generations then it is important to begin stewardship education at a young age. Lynn Sale from Holy Infant Church in Durham, N.C., will address the topic of faith formation and stewardship from this aspect.
Communication is key to spreading the message of stewardship. In his travels around the world promoting stewardship as a way of life, Jim Kelley, director of development for the Diocese of Charlotte, has built a sizeable repertoire of proven stewardship communication methods. He will share those with participants in his breakout session on “Communicating the Message.”
The real focus of stewardship must be spiritual. It is a way of life that brings Catholics closer to Jesus. Father Roger K. Arnsparger, pastor of St. Michael Church in Gastonia, N.C., will address the topic of spirituality and stewardship. Father Arnsparger promotes a spiritual understanding of stewardship throughout the parish family. In addition he takes the time to form all of his parish leaders, from pastoral council and finance council to committee chairs, in the spirituality of stewardship. His message is sure to inspire all those attending the conference.
The goal of the conference’s planners is that participants will return to their own parishes with a renewed emphasis on living and promoting stewardship as a way of life—a life of real Christian discipleship.
Cost for the conference is $35 per person, which includes continental breakfast, conference materials and lunch. The deadline for registration is April 13.