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SEEN UP NORTH: Blessings in giving to God

Tony Best

SEEN UP NORTH: Blessings in giving to God

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As the 98-year-old Bajan great grandmother sat with her son in a Barbados nursing home discussing the family’s finances, she asked an intriguing question.

“Where is God’s money”?

What the grand dame really wanted to know was where were her tithes and offerings to her church, the religious institution whose mission she had supported faithfully and financially for more than 60 years.

Her question and the story it told about people’s commitment to the church and its ministry are among the interesting anecdotes included in a new book, Let The Church Say ‘Amen’ To Tithes And Offerings, The Experience Of Honest and Generous Giving, written by Canon G. Llewellyn Armstrong, an Anglican priest in Barbados, Canada and the United States for more than half a century.

“That story about the grandmother is important because of what it tells us about people’s commitment to the church and the work of our Lord and about our stewardship,” said Canon Armstrong, now serving at St Leonard’s Church, an independent, predominantly Barbadian religious institution in the heart of Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant community.

“I thought it was important enough to put that story in the book because of the importance of stewardships, tithing and blessings people receive.

“She had the right attitude,” added Canon Armstrong. “When we use that approach towards our finances we enjoy the blessings that come from good stewardship.”

The 74-page book was launched at an evensong service on a recent chilly Sunday afternoon and the author, who is also the rector of the Resurrection Anglican Congregation in New York, said he was motivated to write about the subject “because I believe that tithes and offerings are the best kept secret in Christendom. Actually, it is the best kept secret for financial prosperity”.

“The Bible teaches that all we have that is good really belongs to God and we are just stewards of God’s gifts. God puts us in charge of God’s property, so to speak.”

Money, the tithes and offerings given to the church may be “the best way we can exercise stewardship of money”, but the author was quick to explain there were ways of showing good stewardship, such as the use of people’s skills and talent to support “God’s work” or the use of “our time” in service to the poor and the needy.

“However, my book specifically is about the stewardship of treasure or money. From personal experience I know it works; it contributes towards blessings. Good stewardship produces blessings of good health and well-being as well as financial blessings. It’s a message which must be told,” he said.

The Right Rev. Julian Dobbs, the Missionary Bishop of the Congregation of Americans in North America (CANA), a branch of the province of Nigeria, the largest worshipping membership of the 34 provinces of the Anglican Communion, participated in the launching of the book. He said Canon’s Armstrong book was grounded in the “Holy Scriptures” and should help to strengthen people’s commitment to the mission of the church.

“It’s interesting that . . . Canon Armstrong included the story of the elderly woman from Barbados, a Seventh-Day Adventist, and her insistence about God’s money because it helps to point to the importance of tithes and offerings and how the church carries out its mission with the financial giving of the congregations,” asserted Bishop Dobbs, a New Zealander who heads CANA East, one of the four diocese in the United States.

The Rev. Dr Laurel Scott, a Barbadian who is pastor of the Port Washington United Methodist Church on Long Island, traced the “theology of giving” to the generosity of the creator, the Almighty.

“We must be generous because we have to share,” she said. “The church can’t perform its work without money, feeding the poor, helping to put roofs over the heads of the homeless and providing clothes to those who don’t have them. They all require money and that comes from the gifts of people. When you give you receive blessings in return. In other words, we must be part of the cycle of giving.”