A Letter from Fr. Stavros

Dear Parishioners and Friends, This year’s Stewardship slogan is “Do What Pleases God.” As you prayerfully consider your pledge this year, we invite you to meditate on this year’s slo- gan. Does my Stewardship of time, talent and treasure please God? Does it reflect the best possible use of what God has given to me? Does it reflect grati- tude for His gifts? And most importantly, does my offering reflect joy that I am a Christian? There are so many things we are doing in this community that surely must please God. Our church is full to overflowing with people each Sunday. There is a record number of children in Sunday School and serving in the altar. There is a large choir, a dedicated Community Outreach program, our GOYA is larger than ever, six small group bible studies, Philoptochos, Young at Heart (seniors), adult retreats and so much more. Our Stewardship, both in numbers of stewards and in amount pledged, is also at an all-time high. There is still a ways to go. What if our community could do MORE in the way of charitable giving and community outreach? What about additional retreats and programs for all ages? What about fixing a beautiful but aging sanctuary, as well as our other buildings? What about paying off a long standing mortgage, thus securing a more stable financial future for ourselves and our children? We read in the Epistle of St. James that “every good and perfect gift is from Above.” (1:17) Everything good begins with God, including ALL of our mate- rial possessions that we value. And it’s ultimately going to end with us being judged by Him for what we did with what He gave us. The Biblical standard of giving is 10%. That is not only the ideal, it is a commandment called a tithe. This is the goal that each of us should aspire to, and to do so with joy. Since most of us are not able to just go from where we are to 10% in one year, consider starting at the level of 3% of your gross income, and then work- ing up a percentage each year until the ideal is reached. All of the above goals are within reach if every steward gave even 3% of their income towards stew- ardship. Our stewardship committee has decided not to focus on a numerical goal for our stewardship campaign. Our offering of stewardship is not toward a goal. Nor is it toward an average, compared to what others are doing. Your stewardship is a commitment to Christ. It is a pledge to Him. It is a reflection of your faith and hope in Him. It is a preparation for your accounting before Him. We are encouraging everyone to offer a percentage of what you have been blessed with. We need to each work up to a joyful giving of 10% of our income to the church. Starting off at 3% or more will certainly be a chal- lenge. Please prayerfully and joyfully consider offering your time, your talent, and your financial pledge for 2017 to support our many diverse minis- tries. Thank you for your support of God’s Church of St. John the Baptist in Tampa. With love in the Lord, +Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, Proistamenos