November 29, 2016
Dear St. Stephen’s family,
This Sunday, December 4, is our Pledge Ingathering—the day when we gather our pledge cards and time-and-talent sheets. I was recently asked a very important question: “what is this pledge package we are receiving?”
My answer is a fairly simple one. Your pledge is a way to say,
“I love this place. I love what it stands for. I love its uniqueness. I love that St. Stephen’s has accepted me when I needed acceptance. I love that it accepts others who need acceptance. I love this place so much I am willing to support it with my creativity, my energy and my financial resources.”
St. Stephen’s is definitely not your typical Episcopal Church—or your typical church by any definition. We are unique. We are eclectic. We do things a bit different than other churches.
Everyone knows we are welcoming. It is not secret that we are fully-accepting. But we are definitely not push-overs. We are also very strong and committed. And when we stand up for something, we STAND UP. And we speak out.
This is how we follow Jesus and this is how we live as his Presence in this sometimes scary and uncertain world that needs Christ’s radical goodness, radical acceptance, radical love.
In the 1960s and 1970s, St. Stephen’s was at the forefront of full-acceptance of women in all ministries of the Church at a time when such a stand was often unpopular. In the 1980s and 1990s, we were the first congregation in the Diocese of North Dakota to seek full support of GLBT Christians in the Episcopal Church. And last year, we were the first congregation in the Diocese to stand up for marriage equality for all people.
Your pledge makes sure we continue to be the congregation we have always been. Your pledge helps us to continue to be a radical, loving and safe place for all.
I have said it many times before: if you want to see the Episcopal Church of the future—it is right here. We are it. St. Stephen’s is what it means to be alive and vital as Christians. We are what it means to be all-inclusive, even if that means being inclusive to a fault. We are what it means to accept everyone—no matter their sexuality, their color, their gender, their political party, no matter if they are spiritual skeptics -- everyone is welcome here and fully ACCEPTED here. This is who we are.
And in the face of whatever may come, socially, government-wise, if the skies turns dark and the moon falls into the ocean, we will still be who we are and what we are.
That is what your pledge supports here.
Please return your pledge package this Sunday, December 4 for our ingathering. If you have not received a pledge card or a time-and-talent sheet, please let me know and I will make sure you receive one.
Your financial offering is essential for us to continue to be who we are here. We cannot be the radical, accepting, loving congregation we are without your help and support.
More than anything, however, please know how grateful and humbled I am to be serving as your priest. 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.