An Annual Stewardship Response Program
Tree of Gratitude Stewardship project for Trinity Lutheran Church-Stonington-2013
– by Diane Srutowski, LLM
I began thinking of a way to implement the “Tree of Gratitude” that was presented at our Stewardship Leadership Seminar at Fortune Lake in September, 2013.
I wanted to implement the three week program that would culminate with a worship service of thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Sunday, December 1, 2013.
I included a letter of introduction for two weeks prior to the intended start date for the program and explained it during my announcements in worship, asking for volunteers to participate in the planning and implementation of our “Tree of Gratitude.” Several people volunteered to be on the committee. We met to discuss possibilities and concluded that we would use our artificial, undecorated Christmas tree as our tree, rather than cutting down a coniferous tree and bringing it into the sanctuary, since the timing of our project falls immediately prior to our regularly scheduled decorating of our Christmas tree.
We decided to use pine cones with colored leaves attached for the congregation to write their blessings on. A couple of our committee members created the pine cone messages by attaching leaf-shaped construction paper with twine to the pine cones, using a hot glue gun. Each week will have a different color:
YELLOW LEAVES – write on these gifts God has given you.
ORANGE LEAVES – write on these gifts God has given our congregation.
RED LEAVES – write on these gifts God has given our community.
We created a decorated box to hold the pine cones and a supply of pens, which are passed out by our greeter to every person entering for worship.
During announcements, I give directions for the assigned color of gratitude and encourage everyone to participate. The act of verbalizing our blessings and collectively participating in the decorating of our “Tree of Gratitude” is visually affirming of all the gifts we have been blessed with by our Creator God.
Prior to the First Lesson, I encourage people to put their gratitude message on the tree while special music is performed.
We capture the process with photographs that I post on our Facebook page and include in my weekly email newsletter.
After the three week program is concluded, our beautiful, colorful “Tree of Gratitude” will be a visual of our blessings. We plan to have a worship service of thanksgiving to give praise to God in recognition of all that we have been blessed with as part of our year-long stewardship program. >
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