Greetings! You can call me J.D. Wilson. I have been a member of Epworth for about 2 years. I started coming to Epworth with my family when my wife, Pastor Amanda, took a new job as the coordinator of children’s ministries.
You have perhaps heard mention of the Faith Teams around Epworth. If not, I’d like to take a moment to tell you just a little background, and then explain how I feel this ministry connects to stewardship and relation with God. Faith Teams originated with the Religious Coalition for a Non-violent Durham. The purpose is to create loving support groups from faith-based communities and partner with a formerly incarcerated person. The Epworth journey into this mission began a little over 10 yrs ago with the establishment of one of the very first Faith Teams but the team disbanded after some time.
About 1 year ago, in Sept, the Journeying Toward Justice group sponsored a talk with Marcia Owen as speaker and her topic related to criminal justice. During the program she mentioned the Faith Team concept which she originally established. After the talk, my friend Fred Mowry and I were talking and he said, “that Faith Team work sounds like a great idea”. And in my reflection on this brief interaction with Fred, I can say I heard the voice of God calling, saying, “not only does this sound good, but I should make it happen.” And now I feel like I was meant to be doing this. So last Fall, an invitation went out to the congregation to gauge interest, and by this past March we had 2 trained teams of dedicated individuals. And the program coordinator, a man named Drew Doll, paired each of our teams with a partner and we were off on a great faith journey (the teams are aptly named!).
There are about a dozen Epworth members actively involved in the Faith Teams at the present. They are all people with really busy lives, with many other responsibilities, but the teams find the time to spend with these men who are outcast and otherwise forgotten by our society. All the team members really need to give is their time and love (which is the greatest gift) and I believe that we receive it in return as well. And the time that is given in this service is truly an important form of stewardship toward God. I am reminded somewhat of Matthew chapter 25 (just not the judgmental aspects of it), “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”.
If you do not have financial resources that allow you to give much to Epworth in the offering, you can always give your time. And as the saying goes, “Time is money!”. Time is a valuable resource indeed, and I would encourage you each to use it wisely. But also, you should use your money wisely, and I believe that includes carefully and thoughtfully considering what it means to tithe. I especially like a quote I read from the actor Kirk Douglas when he turned 100 years old. “Giving is a selfish act, I maintain, because it makes you feel so good”. As an interesting note, Douglas was raised as an Orthodox Jew, and his view that “giving makes you feel good” is relevant for any person of faith. I really like how ironic his words sound, and I would also like to suggest you try it!