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Author Topic: Shakedown Sunday  (Read 2713 times) Average Rating: 0
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aserb
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« on: April 12, 2006, 11:21:20 PM »

Forgive my irreverence or sarcasm in advance. Out Bishop is visiting us this coming Sunday to which some of us refer to it as Shakedown Sunday. Shakedown is term borrowed from the world of organized crime wherein a person or persons are roughed up in attempt to get money out of them. You see every time he comes to our parish that is his main topic  "GIVING". Cash, moola, greens, the Benjamins.

Where's Jesus in all this. Why do we not hear any insight about him or his teachings. What happened to these topics. When did we get so wordly that we laud openly the big givers.

I was reading an article in recently about how an "anonymous" donor gave money for the restoration of the icons behind the altar of a Serbian Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh. This person's reward is truly in heaven and not from men.  Why can't we all donate anonymously?

I am ramblingand a bit cynical.

People especially converts often question what I or other find hardest about Orthodoxy. I do not find fasting or the long liturgies hard at all. I find having to endure sermons designed to shame or cajole me into emptying my pockets difficult to endure.

I don't know. I am rambling. Anyone care to comment.
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2006, 11:41:20 PM »

Aserb
see some of my comments in the OCA Financial Scandal thread about old-world, old-school hierarchs with a 19th century mindset. Hey! even getting into the early 20th would be an improvement!

Also see the thread I initiated (but no one responded to) on this free-for-all board "EFCA possible model...."

Until the attitudes and methodology for generating stewardship change and greater accountability regarding the money collected occurs across Othodoxy, you will continue to be subjected to the kind of "shakedowns" you describe (at best) or the kinds of scandals the OCA is going through (at worst). And personally, I don't think the OCA is the only one with skeletons in the closet.
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2006, 11:51:18 PM »

Thank you Brother Aidan. It's nice to know I am not the only one that feels this way.
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2006, 01:32:50 AM »

Thank you Brother Aidan. It's nice to know I am not the only one that feels this way.
Where do I send my cheque too?
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2006, 03:27:06 PM »

all I know is that Orthodox "traditions" of financial stewardship are not part of Holy Tradition (and, it appears, in some cases actually a bit un-holy, and very often quite tacky). There is therefore no problem joining the 21st century and adopting commonly accepted accounting practices. Nor have the evangelicals (the historic ones that subscribe to FCCA; televangelists and personality cult fundamentalists are NOT evangelicals in the historic use of that word in american church history)and mainline protestants done such a poor job of it (stewardship) that we couldn't learn from them.
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2006, 10:38:50 PM »

Good comment brother Aidan
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2006, 11:58:02 PM »

thank you
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« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2006, 08:03:38 AM »

all I know is that Orthodox "traditions" of financial stewardship are not part of Holy Tradition (and, it appears, in some cases actually a bit un-holy, and very often quite tacky). There is therefore no problem joining the 21st century and adopting commonly accepted accounting practices. Nor have the evangelicals (the historic ones that subscribe to FCCA; televangelists and personality cult fundamentalists are NOT evangelicals in the historic use of that word in american church history)and mainline protestants done such a poor job of it (stewardship) that we couldn't learn from them.
In Acts of the Apostles people handed (all? ) their money over to the Apostles who then doled it out to those that needed it. When a couple held out on some money they were struck down dead as a lesson to all.
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2006, 08:14:52 AM »

M
Really, what do church dues, perroghi sales, food festivals, raffles, and constant nickle and diming  have to with that passage in Acts?

Not to mention secret discretionary funds ....

Do you just try to be constantly confrontational?

Orthodox are not magically infused with immediate knowledge of how to do everything. We can learn from pagan accountants and the stewardship models of non-Orthodox Chrisitians.  
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2006, 08:30:58 AM »

I've noticed there is usually an article by the parish council President or whoever about church finances in the monthly bulletin.  We also have a nice chart...like a thermometer, you know the kind they use for red cross blood drives and stuff, listing what the goals are for stewardship, and how many families they need to meet operating costs, and what the average per family would ideally be, and then the thermometer with what the actual is.  Very non-intrusive, but you can't miss it coming in from the office side either! And then they do creative things, like a breakdown of *at the moment* an up to date pc system for the office, for all the accounting and mailing lists and whatever else they do in there, with $50 to $100 amount boxes, that you can either fill in with your name, or put anonymous.  So if you want to donate for it, you can.  Some people pick one box, some take a few, depending on what they can or want to do. They did the same thing last summer to help with meeting utility billls, since the basket monies go way down along with attendance in the summer.  There was even a section for kids, with oh, what $5 and $10, which I thought was nice to help promote a feeling of participation with the kids.

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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2006, 08:52:09 AM »

aserb,

    Couple of comments.

First, I've often felt a bit uneasy from a few things which go on in our Church.  Weekly donations are read out loud to the entire congregation.  To me, it seems like a way to "credit" the big givers and urge others to do the same.

I like to give as much as I can, however, I don't do it for recognition, either way. I'm not there to impress anyone or to be judged (for not giving enough).  So, I'm on board with the anonymous giving.

Second,  I've seen one practice in a Macedonian Orthodox Church, which in my mind was something I didn't like and worse than what you describe.  This Church has an event every year where they have an auction.  What are they auctioning?  Icons!

Not for sale, but for rent!  Okay, to start with the Church is quite large and connected to it is an ENORMOUS banquet hall (actually there are two additional halls as well), however, this one hall, probably accomodated about 800-1000 people for an event.

So, up comes "Joe Church helper" with an Icon of St. Nicholas and the bidding begins.  Starting at $125, do I have $150, what about $175, blah blah blah...  You get the idea.

I don't know, some may view it as a "creative" method of raising funds for the Church, I find it tasteless.
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2006, 09:05:15 AM »

Actually I have no problems with a specific allocated amount monthly for a priest to use as discretionary funds. Our pastor has used those funds immediately to put up a family whose apartment had a fire, to buy a meal for a homeless person who came to the church, etc. Discretionary funds should be limited and reported on after their spent ---the purpose of a true discretionary fund is to allow access to fund immediately without having to go to a parish Council meeting for approval.  Note discretionary does not mean non-accountable, our parish priest reports how he spent the money, it is then replenished to the amount set for him to have immediate access to  by the Council.

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Thomas
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2006, 11:52:33 AM »

then it is not a secret discretionary fund and it it accountable

Aurelia - the things you mentioned sound very helpful, realistic and reasonable
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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2006, 12:07:17 PM »

Weekly donations are read out loud to the entire congregation. ÂÂ

OMG!  Shocked That's just so WRONG!
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2006, 12:09:46 PM »

I like to give as much as I can, however, I don't do it for recognition, either way. I'm not there to impress anyone or to be judged (for not giving enough).  So, I'm on board with the anonymous giving.

Second,  I've seen one practice in a Macedonian Orthodox Church, which in my mind was something I didn't like and worse than what you describe.  This Church has an event every year where they have an auction.  What are they auctioning?  Icons!

Not for sale, but for rent!  Okay, to start with the Church is quite large and connected to it is an ENORMOUS banquet hall (actually there are two additional halls as well), however, this one hall, probably accomodated about 800-1000 people for an event.

So, up comes "Joe Church helper" with an Icon of St. Nicholas and the bidding begins.  Starting at $125, do I have $150, what about $175, blah blah blah...  You get the idea.
I know of several Antiochian parishes that don't regularly pass a basket around (or whatever container), but just rely on people to stick their money in a box with a slot in the Narthex for most of their tithing.  Of course, I think these are all former AEOM/EOC parishes with mainly converts that have have tithing ingrained in them from their Protestant days (a good aspect of course).

I don't think the auction idea is so bad as the "renting" concept.  This better be some mural size icon if I'm only "renting" it and paying hundreds of dollars.  I know that our Matuschka (who is probably one of the best iconographers in this hemisphere) charges about $400 for an 8.5" x 11" size icon (egg tempera on wood).  This is w/o gold leaf which would be extra.   ÃƒÆ’‚Â

Actually I have no problems with a specific allocated amount monthly for a priest to use as discretionary funds. Our pastor has used those funds immediately to put up a family whose apartment had a fire, to buy a meal for a homeless person who came to the church, etc. Discretionary funds should be limited and reported on after their spent ---the purpose of a true discretionary fund is to allow access to fund immediately without having to go to a parish Council meeting for approval.  Note discretionary does not mean non-accountable, our parish priest reports how he spent the money, it is then replenished to the amount set for him to have immediate access to  by the Council.

In Christ,
Thomas
My parish too....I'm thinking the OCA "scandal" issue is much different though and not in a good way.
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« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2006, 03:24:50 PM »

Money is necessary, but we cannot serve both, and it's uncanny how all people, even hierarchs, can lose the balance from "necessary", to a complete drive of "how much".  Where  some churches (not all) are more concerned about planning festivals and galas, and not having the churches open for more frequent vesper services, or even to organize a religious lecture or two.  

In the Greek Orthodox Metropolis here in Toronto, the monthly bulletin always has a consistent pattern.  Page 1 almost always lists the thousands of dollars that wealthy entrepreneurs have given the theological academy or the metropolis, or the Orthodox day school, and the last page reminds the faithful to "remember the Theological Academy in their WILLS".  

Large feast days, the collection plate passes a second, sometimes even a third time.  I am quite cynical about all this too, aserb.  Is it really necessary to remind people to give to the church?  Or will they give more then they can (the widow and her two pennies) if the plate passes a second or third time?  And do the parishioners who attend regularly give less than those who do not, but have fat checkbooks?

I don't mean to criticize the Archbishop or any cleric...truly he does good things with the money, he renovates churches, he builds others, he builds schools.  But, all this aside, let us render to Cesar what is Cesar's, and to God what is God's.  Their first role, as wearers of His priesthood, should be our spiritual enlightenment, and their own huge responsibility before God--something which, (and I hope Mastercard doesn't sue, but..) is PRICELESS.  

(I should have probably asked forgiveness for my cynicism too in this issue beforehand, also.   But I ask for it now. Cheesy)
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2006, 01:57:54 PM »

TO ALL

I think it is necessary to remind people but not beat them over the head or nickle and dime them. People tend to be forgetful. I was church treasurer once and I noticed an upsurge in giving after a reminder. But beaten and shamed into giving is too much. Auctioning off items - revolting!

SouthSerb you will be happy to know that the anonymous giver at an SOC church. As I said before, this time with emphasis, this Serb brother's reward is truly in heaven.
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« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2006, 07:20:19 PM »

M
Really, what do church dues, perroghi sales, food festivals, raffles, and constant nickle and diming  have to with that passage in Acts?

Not to mention secret discretionary funds ....


Orthodox are not magically infused with immediate knowledge of how to do everything. We can learn from pagan accountants and the stewardship models of non-Orthodox Chrisitians. ÂÂ
I just mean that it seems we used to give almost all the money over - not just 10%

Do you just try to be constantly confrontational?
Are you confronted by this?  Huh
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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2006, 07:23:01 PM »

Money is necessary, but we cannot serve both, and it's uncanny how all people, even hierarchs, can lose the balance from "necessary", to a complete drive of "how much".  Where  some churches (not all) are more concerned about planning festivals and galas, and not having the churches open for more frequent vesper services, or even to organize a religious lecture or two. ÂÂ
I've been to two different Antiochian Orthodox parishes. One where they hand around a collection plate, and one where you take money, put it in an envelope and pop it into a box at the back of the church... but you're supposed to put your name on it.

In one method there's a public "Hey look at me I'm putting lots of notes in the plate" to the other more quiet way of donating - though I don't know why it's the priest's business either who's giving what.
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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2006, 08:11:42 PM »

In one method there's a public "Hey look at me I'm putting lots of notes in the plate" to the other more quiet way of donating - though I don't know why it's the priest's business either who's giving what.

So the parish can track amounts for tax purposes.  Since your offering to the Church is a charitable donation, you can write it off.  I don't know about others, but my parish provides a letter at the end of the year stating how much you've given (I assume it's in case you don't keep records yourself).
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« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2006, 09:24:34 PM »

You can give money, quietly, and still have it tracked for tax purposes
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« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2006, 11:01:10 PM »

You can give money, quietly, and still have it tracked for tax purposes

I totally agree. When you put it in a sealed envelope, there's no accountancy laws in this country that requires them to keep a track of who has given money. If it were for tax purposes then I would give the money and expect a receipt FOR MY TAX claims - as a donation to a charity, or such like.

And if it were for tax purposes then they'd require those others (putting money in a plate) to list their names as well.
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« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2006, 11:55:50 PM »

When Sam Wysong retired as rector at St. Philip's Laurel, we were treated with a year of sermons on stewardship. I kid you not. No matter what the lessons, which feast, what season, the sermon was always stewardship. (Sam, incidentally, hated to do money sermons. As far as anyone knows he only did one, ever.)
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« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2006, 07:42:09 AM »

When Sam Wysong retired as rector at St. Philip's Laurel, we were treated with a year of sermons on stewardship. I kid you not. No matter what the lessons, which feast, what season, the sermon was always stewardship. (Sam, incidentally, hated to do money sermons. As far as anyone knows he only did one, ever.)

Those sermons on stewardship... do you recall any biblical references, even if just general stories, such as 'the love of money', etc?
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« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2006, 07:53:06 AM »

Those sermons on stewardship... do you recall any biblical references, even if just general stories, such as 'the love of money', etc?

It was over fifteen years ago; it was more the fact of sermon after sermon than the specific content. I remember more things such as that he tended to pull the post-communion prayer for random places in the prayerbook. (There was one couple where one of them was in the vhoir, who were using hand signals to bet on where he would pull it. The loser bought lunch.)

Oh-- and that it some fundamental way he is responsible for my marriage.
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« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2006, 07:58:25 AM »

It was over fifteen years ago; it was more the fact of sermon after sermon than the specific content. I remember more things such as that he tended to pull the post-communion prayer for random places in the prayerbook. (There was one couple where one of them was in the vhoir, who were using hand signals to bet on where he would pull it. The loser bought lunch.)

Oh-- and that it some fundamental way he is responsible for my marriage.

It's all a matter of timing

The priest I first went to; from time to time he'd remind us 'after' the Liturgy, but before we'd rushed out the door. It was a very poor parish, he had a full-time job with the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force). Plus, he had four or five kids to support.
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« Reply #26 on: April 16, 2006, 08:31:07 AM »

I can't believe you pass around a collection plate inside an Orthodox church!
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« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2006, 08:55:37 AM »

I can't believe you pass around a collection plate inside an Orthodox church!
St. Mary's of the Nativity, Merrylands* does that. Two beefy looking guys bring the plate around.


*I note that their web-site puts them in Mays Hill...
Saint Mary Church Mays Hill
http://www.antiochian.org.au/SaintMaryMaysHill/
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« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2006, 09:12:08 AM »

They must be expecting some serious cash if it takes two of them to take it round!
Seriously I do think there's something wrong there, having the money in the church like that, Church should be just for spiritual things, putting your money in the box by the door is much more conducive to that I think, and it avoids embarassment for poor people, and temptation into pride for rich people.
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« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2006, 09:19:38 AM »

They must be expecting some serious cash if it takes two of them to take it round!
I can't think of a better way of putting it; they work different sides of the church.
Seriously I do think there's something wrong there, having the money in the church like that, Church should be just for spiritual things, putting your money in the box by the door is much more conducive to that I think, and it avoids embarassment for poor people, and temptation into pride for rich people.
And what I find annoying, 'cause I love maps, is that they describe the church as being in a different suburb! Mays Hill, instead of Merrylands West. Now I really hate them  Shocked
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« Reply #30 on: April 16, 2006, 09:43:59 AM »

Yeah  Angry
hehe!!
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« Reply #31 on: April 16, 2006, 07:31:17 PM »

Yeah  Angry
hehe!!
When I did attend that church they were just installing air-conditioning, but they really did need it because on a Sunday evening that place was like an oven.
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