For them, stewardship is a way of life

They began teaching their children at an early age, with a 50-cent weekly allowance paid in nickels. One nickel always went to the church, the rest to spend as they pleased. As each child grew older, the allowance – and the tithe – increased. Their hope was that their children would carry the spirit of stewardship into adulthood.

Ann Elizabeth Bishop has lived by that spirit for most of her life. She became involved with The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) while serving as the administrative assistant at St. James Episcopal Church in Wichita. St. James is also where she met Glenna Kleinkauf who, like Ann Elizabeth, was taking a four-year Education for Ministry course offered through Sewanee Theological Seminary. They’ve been together 23 years. They received a blessing of their union in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland 16 years ago and legally married two years ago in Kansas. They also raised five kids, the youngest of whom, Charlotte, grew up attending TENS conferences with Ann Elizabeth and Glenna.

It was through TENS that the couple met John Hoskins, senior philanthropic advisor for Saint Francis Community Services. John, in turn, introduced them to Saint Francis, and Ann Elizabeth and Glenna have been ardent supporters and treasured friends of the ministry ever since.

Glenna Kleinkauf (left) and Ann Elizabeth Bishop

“We support Saint Francis because of what they do and how they do it,” said Ann Elizabeth. “For us, they exemplify everything scripture teaches about stewardship. Many people think it’s just about giving away money, but it’s more than that. Stewardship is about using your talents and gifts and about being grateful for the good things in your life. I know that for many of these children, Saint Francis is the best thing that’s happened to them. Saint Francis helps them discover and make the most of their talents and gifts. That’s what makes this ministry so unique; it nurtures the whole person.”

That notion lies at the heart of their relationship with Saint Francis.

“They try to make every child feel important, and they treat their donors the same way,” said Ann Elizabeth. “They are conscientious and personal, and they work hard to keep us informed about where our money goes. That’s important because we work hard for our money and don’t like the thought of anyone being careless with it.”

In other words, good stewardship goes both ways. As Ann Elizabeth and Glenna like to say, “Stewardship is everything you do, with everything you have, all the time.”

That motto guides them in their giving, inspiring them to provide support year after year and to remember Saint Francis in their estate planning.

“Who do you want to determine where your possessions go after you’ve left the world?” asked Glenna, “You or the state? We don’t have a lot, but we figure every little bit helps. Besides, we’re all just caretakers of what we own anyway. If we can help an organization like Saint Francis grow and continue its work, then why not?

“We’re not going to be around forever, and one day, these kids will be running the world. We need to teach them now how to love and how to care so they can take their place in the world and help make it better. Hopefully, they’ll remember what Saint Francis did for them.”

Charlotte remembers. As a young girl, she regularly contributed part of her allowance to Saint Francis’ equestrian program at Salina West. Now 29 and preparing to marry, she still gives. She still carries the spirit of stewardship instilled by her parents – and the lives of other children have been made better because of it.

“The bottom line? It’s the kids,” said Glenna. “That’s the piece that does it for me, that’s why we give. We do it for the kids. That’s the beauty of stewardship. You can keep changing the world long after you’re gone.”

Picture of Beth Cormack
Beth Cormack

Beth is the project manager for the Saint Francis Ministries Marketing and Communications team.

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