“Train your child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Something mysterious and wonderful happens when people freely invest time and labor into a project or an organization – they begin to feel that it is their organization. Of course, this is very much so in parish life. One of my college professors made everyone compete to create original but accurate maps of ancient Egypt. He said that knowledge mysteriously traveled from the end of the hand through the body into the head! In my case this certainly proved to be true and more than that, it inspired me to make a month long trip to Egypt later in life.
In my second parish, a very wonderful parishioner stayed following Holy Saturday Liturgy to help clean and prepare the church for the glorious Resurrection services later. Working on the front of the iconostasis with a dust rag she asked, “Don’t we have a maintenance man who could do this?” I replied, “When your daughter is preparing for her wedding service, would you want anyone else to dress her than you? We are preparing for the Bridegroom.” She looked at me and said, “Oh yes! I see what you mean.” She came every Holy Saturday thereafter to assist with preparations.
There are few means available to parents to help their children feel a part of the parish than working with others on the grounds, preparing meals for shut-ins or cleaning up the neighborhood. Most parishes sponsor work days or festivals that require long hours of volunteer service. These also serve to knit the parish community together. Yet the document below elevates service opportunity to an entirely new level! Love and service are verbs, not just nouns.
An extraordinary document appeared in a google search one day that may be of great assistance to priests, parish councils, staff and stewardship chairs in planning and organizing their own version of this remarkably transformative parish experience. The document below is downloadable in both PDF and MS Word format. Study the meticulous and amazing attention to detail. Of course, this parish had three years to develop this and likely, an extraordinary person at the helm with a supporting cast. Yet every parish can grasp the concept and adjust it to fit their own circumstances. Here is an opportunity for the stewardship committee to move beyond the every year mailing of pledge cards and open wide the door to service lovingly offered to the Lord Jesus Christ.