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The management of property by a servant on behalf of its owner, and particularly in modern times, the organized pledging of a specific amount of money to be given regularly to the Church, often called ‘Christian stewardship’. While the idea of stewardship goes back at least to the NT, it was the need to fund missionaries which brought about the ‘Stewardship Awakening’ in the 19th cent. in the USA. An important element was the idea that everyone, not just the rich, could be benefactors of religion. American Protestant Churches developed the ‘Every Member Canvass’, and many established denominational agencies to assist parishes' annual stewardship programmes. The system was refined by commercial fund-raising agencies such as the Chicago-based Wells Organization, founded in 1946 by Herbert Wells. This introduced triennial stewardship programmes, first to Australia (1954) and then to other Commonwealth countries, including England. The programmes featured elaborate brochures and parish dinners, as well as individual solicitation by Church members who had already made a significant financial pledge. They stressed both the Church's need for money and the need of individuals to promise regular financial support as part of their personal Christian stewardship. They often resulted in large increases in parish income, but after the initial success many Churches wanted to reduce the cost and eliminate the peer-pressure inherent in the Wells method. They then set up their own departments of stewardship. From the 1920s stewardship theology was applied to all aspects of life, often defined as time, talents, and treasure.

Subjects: Christianity.

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