MY GIVING TO GOD THAT WHICH IS GOD’S GIFT TO ME
After my first year of my ordained ministry, Bishop Stephen Bayne of the Diocese of Olympia, and later to become the Anglican Executive Officer, took me and the other deacons who were to be ordained to the priesthood that year on retreat. He asked us whether or not we were tithers, and by that he meant at the ten percent level. None of us could say yes to that question at that time. Bishop Bayne went on to say that we need to think seriously about that because our ministry would never be complete unless we gave thought to tithing not only of our time and talents which we were doing, but also of our treasures. Also he said, we could never be able to speak freely with our people unless we were truly tithing of our time, talents, and our treasures in the service of our Lord. He asked us to give ourselves time, at most five years to work towards the tithe of our treasurers and become full companions and co-workers with him in the diocese.
You see, the Church is the Body of Jesus the Christ in the world today, and we are the members called to honor our Lord and carry out His ministry in this world today…and that is to make Him and His love known wherever we find ourselves in this world. You and I, each of us have been dedicated, baptized, confirmed and sent forth to build up and glorify Jesus and to make him known and accepted. Whatever we do, whatever we say, and whatever we give, reflects upon the glory of Jesus and his Name as we go forth in ministry. If we fall short of that commitment, we will fall short of fulfilling our vows as faithful ministers of Jesus to the world. I can say for us, that all of us ordained priests that year made the full commitment, and most within the five year period. To my knowledge and ability, I’ve kept my promise of tithing.
The Bible from Old Testament time has said that the tithe was the duty of the Lord’s people-that is the standard. The Episcopal Church by action of its General Convention for the past thirty-five years has said that our standard for giving is the tithe…that is our goal, when I was elected to serve on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, I said to the members that the resolution fell short of what we desired. When asked to clarify that, I said that nowhere in that resolution was there a time certain to reach the goal of the tithe. I asked the members of the Council how many of the bishops, priests, and lay people present were already tithers…there were a few. When I asked, would they expect to reach the level of the tithe as called for in the standard, how many years-5, 10, 15, there was silence. I proposed an addition to the resolution which would read… “and we will try to reach it in 3 years time.” It passed in the Council, and later on General Convention passed it as our standard. I took it back to the Diocese of Olympia and it passed. I took it to our Province VIII, and it passed. For many years following, the number of hands raised as tithers kept increasing.
Now, I come back to you my friends and partners in ministry of St. Gabriel’s, what will you be willing to commit of your time, your talents, and your tithe to make Christ known? How long will it take for us to accept full commitment to go on mission here in our parish area to make Christ known, worshiped by our neighbors, and friends together with us. I invite you to share with me and LouAnn and if you are not already a tither…give yourself the freedom to work towards the tithe in three years…not just for the good of St. Gabriel’s, but to be able to go on mission for Jesus’ greater glory, and for the world’s and your own great good.
The Venerable Lincoln Eng