By Fred Swartz
“Give of the First Fruits: A Study of Stewardship for the 21st Century” has just been published by the Church of the Brethren’s Virlina District. This fresh, practical approach to the Christian concept of “stewardship” is a 13-lesson quarterly with each lesson written by a different church leader or couple from the Virlina and Shenandoah Districts.
Included among the writers are two former Annual Conference moderators, a district executive, nine pastors, and three pastoral couples. The late Judy Mills Reimer, a former Church of the Brethren general secretary and a former moderator of Annual Conference, is author of the chapter entitled “Total Commitment.” She illustrates the meaning of total commitment in a dramatic story from her visit as moderator to the Church of the Brethren mission in Sudan.
The study defines stewardship as holistic faithful discipleship. The 13 chapters cover the care of creation, personal health and time, as well as our responsibility with material resources. Among questions it addresses: What did you and God promise each other in the covenant of baptism? How do good stewards balance faith and reason? Do you shop for what you need or for what you want? How does the church use people’s talents? Have you ever passed by someone in need because you were too busy? How do you share the gift of Jesus Christ with others? In our giving, where can we get the most bang for our buck?
The resource is designed to be used in both youth and adult settings, church school classes, youth groups, midweek services, men’s and women’s fellowships, and personal and family devotions. It is available in booklet form at the cost of $3 per book plus shipping. Orders can be sent by mail to Virlina District Resource Center, 3402 Plantation Road NE, Roanoke, VA 24012 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
— Fred Swartz is past secretary of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, and an ordained minister.