Stewardship Stories: Alisa and Mike Skatrud

All things come of Thee, O Lord; and of Thine own have we given Thee.

            Mike and Alisa Skatrud came to St. Paul’s and their commitment to stewardship by different paths, but ended up in much the same place.

            As Mike puts it, “Alisa was a cradle Episcopalian who has never left the church; I was raised Roman Catholic, and got away from it in college.”

            The two met in Philadelphia and Mike found himself attending Alisa’s church with her parents. Gradually, he began finding his faith again, but in a different way. “The idea of a personal relationship with God was not part of my past,” says Mike, “but it means a great deal to me now.”

            When the couple first arrived in the Boston area, they went “church shopping,” they were attracted to St. Paul’s right away. There are times when friends and neighbors wonder why they travel to Natick to attend church when they live in Needham. “The difference is in the people,” they say, and cite the strong sense of fellowship they feel at St. Paul’s.

            Alisa adds, “Community is what it means to me. St. Paul’s is a place where I can grow and raise our children, a place where they can see God reflected in the relationships among people.”

            Mike and Alisa see their giving to St. Paul’s as a recognition of what has been given to them by God. Both have been involved with stewardship in the past, so they have given it a lot of thought.

            “We are mindful,” says Alisa, that we have been given so much and our giv ing is a sign of gratitude and obedience to God. As we talk about our pledge each year, we try to recognize we are very blessed and our stewardship should not be the leftovers of our budget, but at the center of it.”

            Mike adds, “We struggle with the right amount to give. There are always bills to pay and competing interests in our household budget. But we try to think about stewardship in a spiritual context and view our pledge as different than all the other checks we write.”

            Alisa and Mike agree that stewardship is a “meaningful discipline and an important part of our faith journey at St. Paul’s.”

Stewardship Story - Paula Curtis

Paula Curtis says, “I was born in the church.”

Of course, she doesn’t mean that her mother literally gave birth in the St. Paul’s sanctuary, but the truth is close to that.  Paula’s parents were members of St. Paul’s, and her father’s family had been members before that. “I was baptized in the church and married there, and I have been privileged to see several excellent rectors serve St. Paul’s,” she says.

When asked about her involvement in the activities of the church, Paula mentions music first. “I joined the choir in the third or fourth grade, and I played clarinet and guitar in the youth services. I have always loved music.” Paula’s involvement with St. Paul's didn't end there, however. She has cooked at the Pine Street Inn, served on the Altar Guild and the Vestry, and taught Sunday School.

“St. Paul's is family,” says Paula, “People at the church are even closer than friends for me. As a child, I used to watch the adults talking and laughing in Sherrill Hall and there was a feeling of warmth and connection that I loved. They instilled their values in me at that time. That's how my children have grown up as well.”

Paula has come to understand stewardship more clearly over time. “At first, I gave to the church, but I did not pay much attention to the reasons for giving. Then, over the last several years when we began talking about the potential need to cut programs, I began to pledge because I didn’t want to see that happen.”  Paula says she feels good about during the stewardship drives for the church because she can see the results: “I like giving to St. Paul's because I want to see us grow and thrive.”

Paula says she has learned a lot about the church’s finances both from the Stewardship Committee and through the TogetherNow campaign. “The leadership has explained how we need a separate campaign in addition to our annual pledges to make needed improvements. I am especially happy that we are going to be working on Gale House,” she says, “because nothing has been done to that building since I was a child.”

Paula Curtis is truly a steward of St. Paul’s and has been for a long time. In fact, though, all of us are stewards, whether we have called St. Paul’s home for a few months or for several years. There are many “stories of stewards”—what’s yours?