St. Matthew Named Leading Parish For Its Strong Stewardship!

CHARLOTTE — "Time, Talent and Treasure" is a familiar mantra for parishioners at St. Matthew Church in Charlotte, where stewardship of these gifts is a way of life – so much so that the parish was recently named one of seven certified "Stewardship Parishes" across the country by the International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC).

Stewardship – giving back – has been a primary focus for a decade at St. Matthew Church, said parish Stewardship Committee Chairwoman Joan Slep. "It's pretty amazing how much we do that's stewardship related. It's in every part of the parish. We're excited to receive this recognition and become a model for other parishes."

With more than 8,000 registered families, St. Matthew Church is the largest parish in the Diocese of Charlotte and one of the largest Catholic parishes in the U.S. The ICSC certification is good for three years and designates St. Matthew Church as a mentor parish for the diocese and for churches across the country.

"St. Matthew is one of the model stewardship parishes in the country, and very deserving of this honor. It comes with a responsibility to share their expertise with others. I encourage other parishes in the diocese to contact them for assistance," said Barbara Gaddy, associate director of development for the diocese.

To qualify for the designation, the parish was evaluated in nine key areas: Christ-centeredness of the community, stewardship outreach, spirituality and worship, communications, formation of stewardship leaders, hospitality, stewardship education and catechesis, stewardship of time and talent, and stewardship of treasure. Members of the parish stewardship committee also completed a self-assessment in each of these areas over a four-month period.

St. Matthew Church received high scores in nearly every area. From 2008 to 2011, the parish saw its number of volunteers grow by 8 percent. It also saw the number of families making offertory pledges increase by 65 percent, as well as a 69 percent increase in the total amount pledged by each family. The overall number of offertory pledges jumped 28 percent in just the past year.

"This was a great way for us to evaluate our efforts," said parish Volunteer Coordinator Pat White. "It showed us where we stood and areas that we can work on."

New initiatives in the coming year will focus on volunteer recognition, children's stewardship and programs to reach young adults, White added.

"As the U.S. bishops taught in their 1992 stewardship pastoral letter, stewardship is an essential expression of how we live our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ," said Jim Kelley, diocesan director of development and former ICSC board president. "Our hope is that by focusing on stewardship, parishioners get more connected to Christ and more engaged in their church community."

ICSC was founded in 1962 and works to promote the mission "to foster an environment in which Christian stewardship is understood, accepted and practiced in the Catholic Church." The organization offers seminars, training and resources to support churches around the world.

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— Jenny Cox, correspondent