November 17, 2015
St. Hugh of Lincoln
Dear St. Stephen’s family,
It is that time of the year once again—Stewardship time. And it is a very important and vital time for us at St. Stephen’s. I know some people might groan whenever we start talking about issues like pledges and offerings and money. But Stewardship, as you have heard from our Senior Warden, Leo Wilking, and our treasurer, Sandy Holbrook, is a time for us to pray about and consider the many ways St. Stephen’s has been an important part of each of our lives. It is also a time for us ponder how we can respond to the many ways St. Stephen’s has been a part of our lives.
Stewardship of our money, time, talents and presence at St. Stephen’s takes place in many ways:
+ Attendance. This one seems obvious, but it is good to remind ourselves that our actual presence at worship at St. Stephen’s is so vital to our congregation. Each person among us matters. It is so important to have our congregation actually in attendance on a regular basis. This can also be a very important part of stewardship—the stewardship of our actual physical presence at worship on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening.
+ Pledges. We are praying and hoping that we will be able to get 50 pledges this year. With the amazing growth have had over this past year, 50 pledges is certainly not an unreasonable goal. After prayer and reflection, please fill out a pledge card, even if your pledge is a small amount. Every pledge matters.
+ Tithing. The standard of tithing is that we give 10% of our income. For some this is a very difficult thing to do. For others, this is not. Please consider working toward a tithe of 10% as your monetary goal.
+ Ministry. Ministry is so much more than the work the priest does. Ministry is the work we all do together to further the kingdom of God. As lofty as that may sound, a variety of ministries helps accomplish this goal. On a practical level, there are of course the visible ministries at St. Stephen’s, such as acolyting, lecturing and worship leader. Other ministries include altar guild and children’s chapel leaders and helpers. Of course music is a very vital and important ministry. But there are also so many ministries that go on behind the scenes, that few people even know about: cleaning, gardening, maintenance.
+ Artistic expression. On our website, we find a wonderful description of who we are at St. Stephen’s: “St Stephen’s is a growing community of artists, poets, musicians, professionals, writers, students and searchers for God.” One of the ways we can contributed of ourselves is through our talents. Maybe we are painters or sculptors or poets or musicians. These are also ways that we can contribute and make St. Stephen’s a beautiful place.
We have so much to be thankful for at St. Stephen’s. It is an exciting time for us. New people are finding a home and a family at St. Stephen’s. joining with those of who are have been here for many years. Those of us who have been here for years are finding ourselves renewed and recharged, as well as confronted with all the changes and challenges of a growing congregation. And all of us, together, are doing ministry in whatever ways we can.
All that is happening here at St. Stephen’s is something to celebrate! This is a time in which we should be giving thanks to God for this church home, this church family and these opportunities to do the ministry of loving God and one another in worship and service.
In these next few weeks, pledge cards and time and talent sheets will be arriving by mail. If you have not received your pledge package, please ask me at church and I will make sure you get one. Once your receive it, please prayerfully fill it out.
On Sunday, December 6, we will be celebrating our pledge in-gathering, when people may bring their pledges and offer them to God.
This Stewardship time is an opportunity to celebrate these blessings God has granted to us. It is the time in which we take a good, long look at ourselves as a congregation and what we are doing in our own lives to help St. Stephen’s live even further into this growth and life we are celebrating.
More than anything, know how grateful and humbled I am to be serving you. I am truly blessed by God to be serving a congregation that is excited about what it is doing, that is renewed by its energy and committed to its following of Jesus. Thank you for all you have given to me.