I tell you the truth; this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.
— Mark 12:43-44 (NIV)
The intangible gift for this session is stewardship. Perhaps if we introduce the idea of stewardship at a very young age, we will grow Unitarian Universalists who understand that their faith home belongs to them, and its vitality depends on their accepting and giving stewardship.
The health and well being of a congregation depends on the generosity of its members. When congregants give their time, talents or treasure, they are giving to themselves as well as to others — and everyone is the better for it. In Creating Congregations of Generous People (The Alban Institute, 1998), Michael Durall talks about creating a culture of generosity. This can begin at every level of the congregation, including the youngest. In this session, the children learn some of the responsibilities taken on by volunteers in the congregation, not only to fund maintenance of the physical building, but also to create a welcoming atmosphere for members and visitors who come for worship and other church events. The children will have an opportunity to join in an aspect of congregational life they do not usually participate in, as they make gifts for visitors, collect funds to support the congregation, or welcome others to a worship service, coffee hour or special event.
Activity 3 introduces a penny jar that children can fill by making donations in subsequent sessions. In the long-term Faith in Action activity, Penny Jar, the children begin collecting funds for the congregation with a presentation during a worship service. In Alternate Activity 2 the children help set up and host a coffee hour. Plan these activities well ahead of time with your religious educator, minister and/or lay leaders.
In Activity 4, the children make Salt Dough Decorations as gifts for visitors to the congregation. Prepare the dough at least half an hour before the session. If time is short, have the children form their decorations immediately after the Opening. The dough must harden before painting, and the paint must dry before packing the decorations in gift bags.
This session will:
- Introduce stewardship as an intangible gift
- Introduce stewardship as the idea that everyone in the congregation is responsible for its well being through financial donations and volunteer commitments
- Guide children to make the connection between a generous congregation and its ability to welcome others
- Demonstrate that stewardship is a collective responsibility; it takes a community working together to make a congregation a welcoming place
- Engage participants in the spiritual practices of opening and closing rituals.
- Learn how people in the congregation give the gift of stewardship in a variety of ways
- Hear a parable of Jesus which suggests that no matter how much money we have, all of us are capable of giving the gift of stewardship
- Practice being generous with their time, talents, and "treasure" to act as stewards of the congregation.