Fr. John Touloumes arrived at Holy Trinity in August 1993 with a mandate from then Bishop (later Metropolitan) Maximos: Transition the parish of almost 200 families from dues to stewardship. Within four months, the team built its stewardship ministry – in Greek and English – and the parish has never looked back. After 88 years on Pittsburgh’s north side, Holy Trinity broke ground in December 2011 on a new complex that Metropolitan Savas opened on Pentecost weekend in June 2013 (the 90th anniversary of the parish). The parish is on target to pay off its mortgage by 2020 – or sooner.
Today, Holy Trinity is over 270 families and, in 2018, it celebrates its 95th anniversary as well as 25 years of Fr. Touloumes’ ministry. “In truth, I believe the best days and years still lie ahead for this parish,” said Fr. Touloumes. “When Holy Trinity first adopted stewardship, it was applied at the most basic level. Now, stewardship is entirely organic in our parish. It’s integrated into everything in the life of the community.”
Embracing stewardship at Holy Trinity began by recognizing that everything its parishioners and clergy have emanates from God – their very lives, their health and all worldly possessions. In recognition of this, the parish gives its time, talents and treasure (the three Ts) as thanks to God and does not view stewardship as an obligation, dues or a tax. “Our stewards are energized are energized and committed to the mission of the church,” added Mike Kritiotis, stewardship committee member.
That commitment stems from the personal nature of the stewardship program, which is most effective according to Stewardship team members. When people are approached and asked in a one-to-one manner about giving their time and talent to Holy Trinity they almost always respond in the affirmative. “We have spent years building trust within our parish – they trust our council, our ministry leaders and our clergy,” said stewardship committee member Charlie Petrides. “And people respond to trust and to the personal nature of our stewardship program.”
In return, parish and ministry leaders are open about their annual goals (not just financial) and they report on progress against those goals to the entire parish. Further, Holy Trinity surveys its parishioners (anonymously) and is open to suggested changes and responsive to criticism. This, too, is part of the personal approach Holy Trinity takes to stewardship and another way it engages parishioners of all ages and backgrounds. “Stewardship is personal,” said stewardship committee member Ted Stewart. “It’s about connecting and engaging people. The face of our parish is many faces and many stories. Successful stewardship shows people a familiar story they can connect with, whether they are a millennial, a young family or senior citizens whose children and grandchildren are part of the parish. Stewardship is not just about numbers or need, it’s about our relationship with God.”
Many thanks to Holy Trinity Stewardship Team Leaders:
Mike Kritiotis, Ted Stewart, Charlie Petrides and Fr. John Touloumes