Lift Your Voices for Justice

Posted on June 20, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Lift Your Voices for JusticeFor Sunday, June 24, 2018
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Isaiah 49:1-6
Acts 13:22-26
Luke 1:57-66, 80

Although they are few in number, there are a handful of select feasts that may be celebrated on the Sundays of Ordinary Time. Among these is this Sunday’s celebration of the birth of St. John the Baptist. One of only three birthdays celebrated during the course of the Church Year (the other two being the birth of Jesus on December 25 and the birth of Mary on September 8), this particular celebration dates back to the 4th century. The feast date of June 24 is based on Luke 1:36, which places the birth of St. John six months before the birth of Jesus.
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Using Your Spiritual Gifts for God’s Glory

Posted on June 15, 2018 by - Everyday Stewardship

gift

 

You could buy a meal for a person who is hungry or for a person who just ate a feast. You could spend time with a lonely person or with someone who has more friends than you. You could step forward to join a parish committee that your experience and knowledge can help, or you can join a ministry where you will constantly struggle to figure out what to do. All of the above actions involve you giving and sharing yourself and your gifts. But not all of these actions will bear good fruit.

If a sower sows seeds only on rocky or weed-infested soil, nothing of great value will grow. But if that same sower plants his seeds in rich soil, then the harvest will one day be great. In all of the soils, the seed is being sown, but it is not the act of sowing that is the most important factor.

In living a stewardship way of life, we must discern how best to share our gifts. Discernment needs the Holy Spirit and a desire to follow God’s will, not our own. Our own desires and misconceptions can cause us to use our gifts unwisely. The more mindful we are of how, when, and why we are sharing ourselves, than the greater the impact for God’s glory. God wants all of you, but not in a way that is without understanding and discernment. He wants you to shine as a light to the world through your stewardship just as He came to you as the Light of the World in baptism. You can’t shine brightly if the match does not hit the wick.

-Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

Why Bad People Love Your Church: Fraudsters and Online Giving

Posted on June 15, 2018 by - Catholic Tech Talk

Siber-suç-gelirleri-3

 

Your financial admins are ecstatic. When you walk into the office on Monday morning, you learn that your online giving program has earned you an unexpected boost in donations over the weekend. This is fantastic news!

That is until you notice that all of these donations were made under suspicious-looking names like “Jane Doe” or “John Smith” — and none of them are for more than a few dollars. In short, you’ve just realized that you are the latest victim, an unwilling participant, in credit card fraud.

But why would anyone come after you? Your mission is to make a positive impact, to help your members change the world. So why are you being targeted?

 

Easy Targets

It’s not your fault. Your online donation site — all online donation sites in fact — are the favorite prey of web predators called “fraudsters.” Fraudsters are cyber criminals who focus their energy on credit card and identity theft. They gather a list of stolen card numbers, usually from other online villains, then test them out on low-risk, easy to use platforms where they can make small purchases to see whether or not the card will work for them. Unfortunately, this includes your site.

The Achilles’ heel of most online giving sites lies in their desire to make their platforms user friendly and hassle free. Most sites like this don’t require any form of account validation or the use of a username and password for visitors to make financial transactions. They don’t even need to validate your email address. On top of all this, the majority of donation sites don’t have a minimum transaction requirement, meaning fraudsters can test out stolen cards with incredibly small amounts (often a few dollars or less) that are less likely to be detected by the unsuspecting credit card owner.

 

The Cost

So what does this mean for your organization? Now that you know that these charges are illegitimate, what are you supposed to do with them? Can you prevent this from happening in the future? The tricky part here is that making it harder for fraudsters to enter your online donation site also makes it more difficult for valid users and regular patrons to do so.

Recovering from a fraudster attack will, unfortunately, mean quite a bit of rework for you, your team members, but mostly your online giving provider. First, there’s the need to reconcile the chargebacks with your online giving providers and credit card companies once the cards have been declared stolen. Then, there’s correcting the financial statement errors that result from these fraudster transactions. Both are major time commitments. Your online giving provider, can and should take the lead on this, but they need to work with you to help you reconcile your financial statements as these charges are refunded.

Plus there’s the guilt factor; you set out to help change the world for the better and now you’ve found yourself unknowingly complicit with illegal activities. Admitting that your site has been momentarily compromised is tough, but directly acknowledging this and remaining transparent with your online giving community are the first steps in amending the situation.

 

What We’re Doing About It

Rest assured, we’re not giving up. At LPi, we are committed to combating cyber crime and protecting your online giving platforms in every way we can, without compromising the user experience for your donors.

First, we’ve implemented ReCAPTCHA technology to deter “bots” — or computer-generated hacking technologies — from entering thousands of credit card numbers into your online giving sites at once. This limits the risk of major cyber attacks, meaning less rework for you and more security for your human visitors. We’re also utilizing real-time billing address checks for every donation. This means that fraudsters can’t use a stolen card number unless they’ve also stolen the billing address associated with that card, which is much more unlikely.

While we live in a global world, for added security, we are now blocking access from certain part of the world, including Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia, where a large number of the known fraudster attempts are coming from.

Lastly, we’ve adopted additional fraud-monitoring programs into our site. We are now diligently monitoring successive, repetitive, small dollar transactions a day, and we’re stopping any suspect activity immediately. Think of a war movie with the air raid sirens going off. When the alarm sounds, these security features spring into action.

 

Though it’s an ongoing battle, the fight against fraudsters is never a lost cause. You’ve worked hard to create an online giving platform that is efficient and user-friendly and that allows you to advance your mission. LPi is committed to helping you change the world for the better. That means we’re prepared to fight alongside you to defend your site and protect your donors.

Solving Everyday Parish Finance Issues

Posted on June 14, 2018 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

church finance

 

When we talk church accounting, we might think of the monthly heating bill, managing the lease on the old convent, or managing payroll for your office full of staff members. Of course, major financial plans are often overseen by the parish or finance council. But what about the day-to-day parish finances? The reimbursement check requests, the religious education fund, or the receipt collection? These little day-to-day tasks can add up to big problems if managed poorly. Today, we’re taking a look at four potential day-to-day problems in your parish finances and ways to solve them.

 

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Breaking News vs. an In-Breaking Kingdom

Posted on June 13, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Growing the KingdomFor Sunday, June 17, 2018
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 17:22-24
2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Mark 4:26-34

I have to admit that I’ve stopped watching television news. It seems that whenever I turn on the cable news networks all I can find are segments on celebrities calling each other vile names on Twitter. I stay tuned during the commercial break only to discover that the next segment is not about the volcano in Guatemala or the deteriorating situation in Nicaragua but about pundits reacting to celebrity tweets.
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Moving As One

Posted on June 7, 2018 by - Everyday Stewardship

soccer

 

I have coached all three of my children in soccer at some time in their lives. I loved teaching them and their teammates the importance of functioning as one unit. If we were not all moving together toward victory, we would all find ourselves together in defeat. We used to go through one drill I called the “human foosball.” We would scrimmage with players in lines like on a foosball table. If you ever got too far behind or too far ahead of those in your line, play would stop and the ball would go to the other team. The goal was to help build an awareness of where your teammates were on the pitch and to teach the lesson that no one player is a team onto themselves.

As disciples and stewards, we sometimes find ourselves far behind or maybe even too far ahead. As a consequence, our actions either hinder the ability of the Body of Christ to evangelize and pass on the faith to a new generation or present the Church as an entity that sees itself as judgmental or too holy to be in the world. We are called to community, and in that community, we must be aware of our brothers and sisters in the faith.

At times, we need to help them grow in their faith. Other times, we need to slow down and realize that we cannot change the world on our own. We all have unique gifts we are called to share, and we can only bear true witness to the power of the Body of Christ when we are all moving together and making each other strong.

-Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

Should Your Parish Use Instagram?

Posted on June 6, 2018 by - Catholic Tech Talk

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There are 168 hours in a week. Your parish knows that only one half of one percent of that time is spent in the four walls of the church. Your parish is dedicated to digital communication and online parishioner engagement. Beyond a website, there are numerous social media apps to pick from. Facebook is a no-brainer for most parishes, but what about its sister app, Instagram? Here are a few things to consider before creating a parish Instagram account.

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Growing the Kingdom

Posted on June 6, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Growing the KingdomFor Sunday, June 10, 2018
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Genesis 3:9-15
2 Corinthians 4:13—5:1
Mark 3:20-35

I have a tendency to psych myself out over things. I can get overwhelmed running through various scenarios of outcomes or responses in my mind, which can oftentimes keep me up at night. Sometimes, I try to control people or circumstances in order that my plan comes about. But it never works out the way I had hoped.

I think the same is true with the kingdom of God.
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