I will just say that this is a perplexing tale of politics and religion that make me as the headline question.
According to this article, the former Florida governor and GOP presidential candidate, John Ellis Jeb! Bush, charged St. Martin's Episcopal church $50,000 for a speech a year ago September and it was on . . .stewardship.
This is what a church does to encourage people to give money and or more money?!
Let me write this.
If my church spent that kind of money to encourage people to give more money to pay for the functions of the church and it's outreach ministries, we would probably recall our vestry, the governing board, and ask for our rector and or priest-in-charge to be removed.
You have to understand that St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Houston, is the largest and one of the wealthiest churches in The Episcopal Church. It has some of the cream of the crop of the Houston establishment as members including former President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. And Mr. Bush's top long-time crony, James A. Baker. That is just the political establishment. You get the picture that this is high-end folks.
There is no doubt in my mind that this church could have found something more worthy than lining the pockets of the then future Republican presidential candidate.
I do agree that it takes money to make money, but giving one's time, talent and or money for one's church is not the same thing.
People will do the above if they believe in what the church has done, is doing and will be doing in the future. Yes, there needs to be encouragement, but to spend $50,000 to encourage people to give more to a church seems strange. And to giving to a son of a particular parish as is Jeb! Bush just has cheese written all over it.
I have been to many a stewardship dinner in my 23+ years at my Episcopal church and the most exciting, if one can say that, was held at a private country club. Probably paid for by the member and used as a tax write off as a charitable contribution. Not a give me $50,000 and I might give some of it back.
The Episcopal Church is not a "tithing" church in the sense that everyone is expected to give a tenth of their income, based on the Holy Bible, but more what they can and when they can not, use one's time and or talent in such a way that can be beneficial to the particular parish. Many a communicant/congregant do give a tenth of their salary to the church. Some more, some less and some can't give money at all.
The best way of encouragement I have found are the personal stories of those that have been touched in a positive way by the church's ministries. It is knowing that which has made us dig deep to pledge more than we might have in the past.
But to be honest, Mrs. RVFTLC and I would really have a hard time with a famous person speaking at a stewardship dinner and making off with a speaking fee as if this was just another notch of speaking fees. Which I think in any other setting is cool. If any group and or organization wants to pay a fixed fee for any famous person to speak, mazeltov.
But the cheese factor in which Jeb! Bush charges a HIGHER speaking fee from a church is, well disgusting.
That, to me, is not good stewardship. Even if the church can afford it.
This is but one more reason I do not find Jeb! Bush an attractive candidate for president.
H/T: Jeff Bradshaw.