INDIANAPOLIS - The Ecumenical Stewardship Center recently released its annual edition of Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation, a magazine to encourage and foster stewardship in congregations.

This year's publication, "Blessed Be the Lord God," draws from Luke 1:68 -- "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them." The magazine features articles focusing on the dynamic sense of stewardship that moves across age groups.

"Blessed Be the Lord God" emphasizes the importance of biblical background for the annual stewardship campaign emphasis printed as the center section of Giving.

"Blessed Be the Lord God" invites congregations to meditate on the biblical songs of Advent as they discern their individual and household giving for 2009.

This edition includes all the elements needed for a local church stewardship campaign including:

  • A planning schedule,
  • Worship ideas,
  • An original song, "Mary, Mary" written by noted Christian composer Ken Medema,
  • Sample Letter of Invitation,
  • A Stewardship Sudoku,
  • A Weekly Giving Guide, and
  • A Commitment Card.

Accompanying "Blessed Be the Lord God" theme materials, such as posters, bulletin covers, bulletin inserts, letterhead, envelopes, Bible bookmarks and commitment cards, are also available through Cokesbury (www.cokesbury.com), United Methodists' online bookstore, or through the Ecumenical Stewardship Center based in Indianapolis.

This year Scott Rodin furthers the conversation about raising funds as Christian people. Are we merely trying to attract money or are we in the business of transforming people?

Barbara Fullerton, a long-time friend and board member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, does a splendid job in showing us how to celebrate the offering in line with lectionary texts in her article "The Offering as an Act of Worship."

Look too, for Kamila Blessing's article "The Biblical Significance of 'Blessing' the Lord," which provides biblical background for the annual stewardship emphasis.

This issue also features resources on estate planning and the power of story, as well as a host of resource reviews.

Giving, $9 a copy plus shipping and handling, also includes several Giving magazines from previous years with other campaign themes, Web site addresses and descriptions of other Christian resources. Giving is published by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, a shared ministry of 24 denominations in Canada and the United Sates, based in Indianapolis. The Rev. Stephen Johnson, an Elder of the South Indiana Conference UMC serves as executive director.

For more information, log on to www.stewardshipresources.org, call 800-835-5671 or write to Ecumenical Stewardship Center, 1100 W. 42nd St., Suite 225, Indianapolis IN 46208.