When Sophie Corporan completed her early registration for the 2010 Stewardship Kaleidoscope Conference, she had no idea what life had in store for her.

On Feb. 24, less than a month before the conference was to convene in Indianapolis, Corporan’s husband, Marcelino, died of complications from an aortic aneurysm. His sudden, unexpected death at the age of 59 found Corporan and her family not only in deep grief, but also making arrangements for Marcelino’s burial in his native Dominican Republic.

Upon returning to New Jersey just one week before the conference’s March 15 opening, Corporan prayerfully decided to follow through with her original commitment, traveling to Indiana the very next Sunday.

“The conference helped me to come out from where I was,” she said. “I felt like God brought me there and I was open to that.”

The three-day conference, “Funding Mission Today and Tomorrow,” was hosted by several presbyteries, synods and agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In addition to keynote and workshop presentations on the biblical, theological and spiritual foundations of stewardship, the conference also encouraged its participants to embrace new ideas for campaigns and to learn ways to infuse stewardship with joy and reverence.

Corporan, who is moderator of the Presbytery of the Palisades and was recently elected as one of its two elder commissioners to the 219th General Assembly (2010), found herself uplifted by the vibrant speakers and the concepts they enlightened.

“I fervently believe in being a steward and that stewardship should be a year-round movement,” she said. “Churches should be better trained in stewardship in order to have their members realize that when they’re helping their church financially, they’re helping themselves.”

Corporan, an elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Hackensack, N.J., has already shared her learnings with the church’s session, encouraging them to continue to reach and to educate the congregation. As one of three members of the presbytery’s Stewardship Committee who attended the Stewardship Kaleidoscope Conference, she is also in the process of preparing a presentation for the whole presbytery.

“When you have a good thing, you have to share it with everyone,” she said, “especially with those who weren’t there.”

The 2011 Stewardship Kaleidoscope Conference will be held in Phoenix, Ariz., from Feb. 28-March 2. Learn more.

This story was originally published in the May issue of One in the Spirit.