the stewardship story

There are any number of places where we could begin retelling the Stewardship story.

We have grown out of a number of organizations, stretching back over many generations, shaped by the hands and lives of countless Christians dedicated to transforming the world around them by acts of radical generosity.

The history goes all the way back to 1906, when a group that would eventually be known as The United Kingdom Evangelization Trust (UKET) was formed. While the trust was not directly involved in evangelization, it supported those who were by acting as owner or trustee of church properties that were connected with the Brethren movement. Like an elder, trusted relative, the UKET was always seen as a reliable advisor, as safe pair of hands into which legal and financial matters could be placed. Eventually, towards the middle of the century it started to provide a method of tax-effective giving for, initially, a small number of Christian donors.

It was in the 1980s that the first major change arrived. What was essentially a covenants service administered by a firm of solicitors began to shift and develop under the leadership of Tony Wakeling. As General Manager until 2000, Tony was a dynamic, passionate advocate of Christian action. An ever-increasing number of people were attracted to the emerging services that Tony oversaw, and the workings of the trust became separately managed and comprehensively developed.  

By expanding to offer a range of legal, financial and administrative services, the trust needed a new name. And so, in the 1990s Stewardship Services became the operating name. Part charitable giving agency, part accountants, part legal practice, part insurance agency (transferred to Kingdom Bank Limited in 2009) and part ‘bank’ (serving churches and charities with mortgages and deposit facilities) Stewardship Services started to fulfil a unique, national role.

In a large part, Tony’s drive and connections across the house church movement were the catalyst for growth, but these changes also coincided with an increasing desire within the Church across the UK to wake up to – and do something about – vital issues. Yes, Stewardship helped nurture the desire to give, but in doing so we were merely responding to the currents already running throughout the wider Church.

Today we continue under the legal structure of
 Stewardship Services, but are now known simply as Stewardship (although the official name is Stewardship Services (UKET) Limited). Having moved from general practice as a solicitor to join the charity in 1991, David Jones became Chief Executive in 2000, and steered the organisation through much change and development, not least the arrival of a web service for givers and recipients to manage their accounts online. David identified his successor and in a managed leadership change, stepped down as Chief Executive after ten years on 1 July 2010, being succeeded by Mike O'Neill the Director of Philanthropy. You can read more about the leadership change here. Stewardship continues to thrive.

the mergers

Stewardship has grown considerably over the years, not least due to some significant mergers.

The latest addition to the Stewardship family is The Maxco Trust. A specialist in giving from capital, this Christian trust was established in 1970. Our relationship has grown over many years, and the merging of Maxco into Stewardship in January 2008 was a natural progression. It has concluded a series of mergers to produce one substantial, trusted Christian support services charity, able and committed to connect people and resources to advance the Kingdom of God.

Credit Action and Christian Stewardship Education

Our relationship with Credit Action and its director, Keith Tondeur, dates back to the late 1990s. We were approached by Credit Action to take on the ‘church facing’ aspects of its work. We gladly did this in 2006, inheriting two employees and a volunteer network, which in turn delivered a ‘critical mass’ to our Christian stewardship education ministry. With Steve Pierce joining us in July 2006 to head up the work, our education work now impacts all that we do as Stewardship, helping us address heart as well as head.

Sovereign Giving is another Christian charitable giving agency with roots in the Brethren churches. Founded in the 1960s by Harry Green, (father of Tim Green – subsequently to become chairman of Stewardship) it was originally called The North Staffordshire Evangelical Trust. The merger with Stewardship took place in 2004.

The Macedonian Evangelical Trust (MET) was established in the 1960s as a Christian charitable giving agency. Its early roots were in the Brethren movement, and throughout the 1990s the relationship between Stewardship Services and MET grew in strength, leading to an eventual merger in 2001. Two of the MET Trustees joined the board of Stewardship, and Redina Kolaneci – who had been conducting research and providing training and materials on Christian stewardship – also joined the team. Thanks to the input of MET, Stewardship has grown and enjoyed a fresh emphasis on the importance of education.