“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
“A life of generosity begins with an attitude of generosity,” said Archbishop Foley Beach during his evening worship homily — generosity being the thread woven through this year’s Mission Matters Conference & Synod. Referencing the above passage from the Gospel of Matthew, he emphasized that our hearts will always follow our treasure.
“It always works this way: One follows the other. Your heart will always follow your treasure,” he said. “Jesus wants our heart.”
The question he then asked: How do we put our treasure in the right place?
“What [Jesus is] saying is the things we have and the money we possess are to be subservient to the will of God. If you see a need, be a vessel to help meet that need, whatever it might be. There are people in need all around,” said Abp. Foley. “Give to the Lord’s work in our local Church. Offer to the Lord your tithe and your special offerings to minister to the people in your community. Support missionary ministries – they need our backing; they need our encouragement.”
But he also greatly emphasized that our treasure doesn’t just mean our money: It also concerns our time, intellectual, and emotional investments – calling generosity “kindness in action.”
“Practice the generous life daily with acts of kindness,” said Abp. Foley. “Somebody needs your voice today: They need to hear a word of appreciation, a word of praise, a compliment. Someone needs your advice today; someone needs your counsel today. Someone also needs your ears today: They need someone to hear what’s on their heart – what they’re going through.”
During his address at the Synod business meeting earlier in the day, Abp. Foley recognized the generosity of the Church of Jesus Our Shepherd in Berkeley Lake, GA, and Fr. Bill DeBardeleben as Rector. The parish was planted by Fr. Tom Belt, who served as Rector for many years alongside Fr. Bill, who became Rector when Fr. Tom retired. While the church will be holding its final service on Dec. 8, Abp. Foley called for celebrating their incredible ministry.
“They began 25 years ago and immediately decided that they were going to give 50% of their monies away for mission activities around the world. And they have done that. They have sponsored an average of 25 missionaries each year. It’s just amazing what God has done through these folks,” he said.
Abp. Foley also thanked the diocese for increased giving toward the 10-10-10 model – wherein parishioners give ten percent tithe to the local church, churches give ten percent to the diocese, and the diocese gives ten percent to the province – and imagined the ministry possibilities as parishes come closer to this model.
“What we could do if all the parishes move to the 10-10-10, it would be awesome,” he said. “Regardless, it’s my hope that we can have an atmosphere of absurd generosity in our parishes, in our diocese, and throughout the ACNA.”
The Archbishop recognized Canon David Roseberry and the Evergreen Project, whose ‘Generosity Box’ of resources encourages churches in creating a culture of generosity and giving. The ADOTS Standing Committee has provided a Generosity Box to each ADOTS church, and the project was the topic of Canon David’s plenary talk on Saturday.
Also during Synod 2019, Abp. Foley and Mr. Ted Conley (Redeemer, Chattanooga, TN) introduced the Bishop’s Mission Fund: a diocesan fund for the target areas of Student Ministry, Multiethnic Ministry, Benevolence, and Church Planting. It will be a way for individuals and churches to give to projects or needs that have been identified by local churches. Look for this campaign to launch in early 2020.
“God designed the Church to be his hands and feet, his arms, and his voice to the people in our neighborhoods and in our communities,” said the Archbishop. “You and I are his ambassadors to the needy, the hurting, the angry, the violent, and desperate world that we find around us.”
In continuing his encouragement towards generosity, Abp. Foley challenged churches to focus on the one-mile circumference around their church buildings: “Who lives there? Who works there? What are their needs? Love on them and pray for them. Reach out to them in the name of Christ.”
And as he ended his homily on Friday evening, the Archbishop repeated the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 6 – to store up treasures in heaven.
“Don’t limit what the Lord can do through you… you have so much to give. You have so much to offer. Seek to become a generous person.”