August 18 - 24, 2008


Gold Medal in Stewardship

 The sight of those bicyclists in Beijing really inspired me. No, not the Olympic athletes, but the everyday citizens getting around on bicycles – to work, to school, shopping everywhere.

I saw them on one of those Olympic-coverage side stories about China, where millions of people get around on bicycles. If it can work well in China, why can’t it work here in America?

Of course, as Americans cope with $4-a-gallon gasoline many are rediscovering the joys of walking and bicycling. Maybe this will be the start of a something good: A nation that is leaving the SUVs in the garage and taking the bike. Here are five reasons why Americans should look to bicycling:

-- It’s cheaper to buy and repair a bike than a car. You can usually buy a good bicycle for less than one month’s payment on a new car. Repairs and spare parts are likewise inexpensive.

-- It’s cheaper to run. How much is gasoline nowadays? I rest my case.
-- Bicycles cut greenhouse gas emissions. Human beings emit approximately 2 pounds of carbon dioxide per day. One gallon of gas emits 19 pounds of carbon dioxide. Do the math.
-- Bicycles improve fitness. You use more muscles bicycling than you do driving, so you will develop a stronger body, especially the legs and arms. Moreover, your heart and lungs will become more efficient. You'll feel healthier and have more energy. 
-- You will lose weight. There’s no obesity crisis in China. Is it because they bicycle more? In part, sure! A 190-pound person burns 385 calories an hour doing leisurely bicycling that won’t even cause a sweat.  Hey, that’s more calories than you’ll find in a Wendy’s cheeseburger.

The same arguments apply when it comes to walking.

Of course, there are drawbacks, especially in safety because our roads are engineered to accommodate cars – period. Walking and bicycling is unsafe on many roads. And while sidewalks are good for walkers, they are not for bikes.

China and countries in Europe actually factor walking and bicycling into their transportation plans and road designs. We could learn from them.

This is a serious stewardship issue that Americans are learning about because of the high cost of energy. Walking and bicycling are good for health, good for the planet, and good for the family budget.

--Rob Blezard, webmaster and editor

Reprint rights gladly given to congregations for local, nonprofit use. Just include the following notice: “Copyright © 2008, the Rev. Robert Blezard, Used by permission.”

New This Week:

KairosEnergy Workbook for Religious Buildings
Here’s a truth every church is facing: Energy costs are sky high. Electricity for lights, equipment ad air conditioning is way up. And for churches in northern climes, heating costs will be astronomical this winter. So now, while there’s time before the snow flies, why not look at ways your church can economize? This guide can help get your congregation started. The 14-page document walks you through ways to save. Click here for Energy Workbook for Religious Buildings, from Kairos, a Canadian ecumenical initiative.

Sharron LucasConform or Transform?
This coming week’s Epistle reading offers a powerful lesson in stewardship, “To conform is to allow ourselves to be molded by external forces, in this case by the standards and trappings of the world. Like a lump of clay we allow ourselves to be fashioned or modeled after someone else’s idea of how life should be.”  Click here for “Conform or Transform,” the latest essay from SOLI columnist the Rev. Sharron R. Lucas. Click here to read archived columns.

UCC CanadaStewardship Commitment Programs
Wondering what to do about stewardship this year? This is a handy resource that gives you an overview of the types of programs available to congregations to help you narrow down to the one that right for your church. Click here for Stewardship Commitment Programs, from United Church of Canada.

Tuck AakerAchieving the Mission
Over the years of his work as a consultant, Tuck Aaker found that organizations often have wonderful mission statements. “The problem is, very few of these groups have given much thought to what they have to do to achieve those goals, “ and as a result most never do!” Good advice! Click here for “Achieving the Mission,” from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Church Must Prioritize Giving As Discipleship
Church Central“The priorities of the church today are almost universally misplaced. In those churches that do talk about money, it is more often for the sake of institutional preservation than the personal enrichment of those who wish to be genuine followers of God.” Click here for Church Must Prioritize Giving As Discipleship, from ChurchCentral.