NOV. 2017 E-News – Presbytery of Genesee Valley (click here)

What’s on my mind… “Risk Management” And Stewardship

“Risk Management” And Stewardship
I returned from the Board of Pensions Board of Directors meeting on Sunday. I
have been serving on the Board of Directors since June of 2014, and spend
most of my time with the Healthcare Committee and the Assistance and
Church Engagement Committee, which I now chair. The new motto for the
Board is “Serving More, Serving Better, Serving the Church.” It reflects a
commitment to be both prudent and expansive, in a time when it is easy to
focus on what is shrinking, rather than growing. I have a fiduciary
responsibility as a Director to provide oversight, so that what the Board does
benefits the members and their beneficiaries. Directors are stewards of over
$10 billion, as of the end of the third quarter. It is not a responsibility to be
taken lightly. I often hear the words risk management, particularly regarding
the healthcare plan for which current dues pay for current benefits. It is
important to think about who is covered, for what, and what may happen
during each year.

Serving more, serving better…I think of the servant who buried the one talent
he received from his Master, knowing that the Master was stern, and afraid of
what would happen if he lost it. An argument could be made that he was the
wise one, not risking loss and its consequences. Yet it was the servants who
risked the assets they had been given to care for, who were rewarded for the
gains they received. In the kingdom of God, it is worthwhile, and even
expected, to take a risk. In times that are changing so quickly, it is tempting to
allow fear to keep us from acting as faithful stewards. We can call it risk
management or excessive prudence. Luke tells us that the Master instructed his
servants: “Trade with these till I come (Luke 19:13).”

I served a church in Chicago that did not replace the boiler in a timely way, even
though there were pledges to pay for it, because they could not envision God’s
future for them. Better to put the money away for a rainy day, they said. By
the time I was there, membership was diminishing and the deferred
maintenance on the building was estimated to be $900,000 (including the
boiler). When it rained, the first floor flooded. There were days when I asked,
“How much wetter does it have to get?”

Faithful stewardship involves both prudence and risk. We are here to trade
with what God has given us until Christ returns. Circumstances change, but the
vision does not. Serving more, serving better, being the Church.

The Rev. Dr. Laurie Ann Kraus,
Director, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance