Ashland Seminary to Sponsor Continuing Education Series

Ashland Seminary to Sponsor Continuing Education Series

2/9/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland Theological Seminary this spring will sponsor a “Ministry of Growing Generous Disciples” continuing education series designed for pastors, finance committee members and ministry leaders.

The seminars, which will include lunch, will rotate between the Seminary’s Cleveland, Columbus and Ashland centers and will be led by the Rev. George Cooper, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church with extensive fundraising experience. Cooper was named executive director of the Council on Development for the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church in November 2010.

As an elder serving in the East Ohio Conference, Cooper led his churches toward an understanding and implementation of a theology of stewardship as a key factor in their successful growth and health. Rev. Cooper holds a Master of Divinity degree from Ashland Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Science degree in Math-Physics from the State University of New York at Fredonia. He and his wife, Rosemary (Dolly), relocated to the Columbus area and have two grown sons and two grandchildren. 

The first seminar, “Stewardship 101: Cultivating Generous Givers” will be held March 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Center located at 6500 Rockside Road, Suite 130, Independence Ohio. The seminar is offered by ATS for .8 continuing education units with the standard price of $55, alumni price of $45 and a group discount (three or more from the same organization) of $40 per participant. Those interested can register for this seminar at stewardship101.eventbrite.com.

“Stewardship is the management of all the gifts God has given us including life, time, talents, relationships, environment, assets, money and of course the greatest gift of all, God's Son, Jesus Christ,” Cooper said. “However in the life of the church we equate ‘Stewardship’ with ‘money’ and for most churches, it is an ongoing struggle to have adequate funds to accomplish all God is calling us to accomplish for making disciples and reaching out in missions.” 

Cooper said the goal of this class is to utilize a holistic approach to stewardship to "grow generous disciples." “Practical tips are incorporated to assist local churches in developing an intentional plan and pastors, finance committee members, church leaders and denominational leaders will benefit from this experiential learning,” he said.

The second seminar, “Stewardship 201: Next Steps to Growing Generous Givers,” will be held April 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Columbus Center located at 8425 Pulsar Place, Suite 400 in Columbus, Ohio. The seminar is offered by ATS for .8 continuing education units with the standard price of $55, alumni price of $45 and a group discount (three or more from the same organization) of $40 per participant. Those interested can register at stewardship201.eventbrite.com.

“Stewardship 201 walks through the ‘next steps’ for cultivating generous givers,” Cooper said. “This will be a working session for local church leaders to develop a customized strategy for their local church. Pastors attending are encouraged to have a small team from their Stewardship or Finance Committee to assist in the initial steps of strategizing.”

Cooper said seminar participants will:

  • Understand their personal theology and objectives for cultivating their personal generosity.
  • Discover how to complete and apply a Generosity Audit to the stewardship initiatives for their local church.
  • Gain insights as to what is going on with charitable giving in the current economy and culture.
  • Fill their toolbox to grow generous givers with an Annual Worship Plan, Communication Plan, How to customize appeals, and Appropriate Fiscal Reporting.

The third seminar, “Creating a Planned Giving Strategy,” will be held May 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the Ashland Campus at 910 Center Street. The seminar is offered by ATS for .8 continuing education units with the standard price of $55, alumni price of $45 and a group discount (three or more from the same organization) of $40 per participant. Those interested can register at plannedgivingstrategy.eventbrite.com.

“Stewardship in the church has largely been focused on tithes and offerings from income for the ongoing operational expenses of the local church,” Cooper said. “We faithfully give out of our income but spend little time talking about planned giving from our assets, especially as part of an estate plan. It will be beneficial for pastors, finance committee members and any church leaders with a passion to establish and/or grow a legacy program in their local church to move it beyond the weekly tithes and offerings to a legacy for kingdom building ministries.”

Cooper said the seminar will answer a number of questions, including:

· How does planned giving fit into an overall stewardship strategy for the individual and the local church?

· Are planned giving and estate planning the same? How are they approached differently? Is your church prepared if it were to receive a substantial estate gift? Does your church have a strategy to encourage estate giving to the church?

· What is an endowment? Does your church have an endowment program?  Does it simply mange the funds or promote their use for enhanced mission and ministry? How can an endowment be utilized to leverage greater generosity for general giving rather than be used as an excuse not to give? What policies are essential for a successfully run endowment?

· What are the components of an annual strategy to encourage estate giving in a manner that benefits the church members?

· Why is an intentional planned giving program essential to every church in an ever-changing culture to assure mission and ministry remain vital?

These three courses are part of a five-course series offered by Ashland Theological Seminary for .8 Continuing Education Credits. The courses can be taken in any order and the other two courses are “What, Why & How of a Capital Campaign” and “Endowment Strategies for Mission & Ministry.”

Ashland Theological Seminary is a graduate division of Ashland University. With campuses in Ashland, Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus, Ashland Theological Seminary integrates theological education with Christ-centered transformation as it equips men and women for ministry in the church and the world.