Generous Hearts

2020 stewardship campaign

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us; following Jesus as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

A message from Father David

It is not easy to think both deeply and hopefully these days. Yet as Christians, of all people, we are meant to be people of hope.

We are tempted to focus on all the problems in a gloom-filled pessimism or offer up a detached and cheerful optimism that sometimes does not take the facts seriously enough.

But when I see the practical responses and transformative impacts our ministries at Saint James have every day of the week, I am able to embrace a realistic hope and hold on to an abundant sense of gratitude.

One should really expect the church to contend with the forces that threaten to undo holiness and healing in the world. I want to put side-by-side ordinary ministries of ours with the deepest problems of the world just in the last month alone.

Impacts of Saint James ministries

When one thinks of climate change, I see a parishioner leading a meeting with Representative Lloyd Smucker which brings a priest and a teenager to ask what we can do better together.

When I think of human trafficking and the cost of sexual violence against women and children in transit hubs like Central PA, I see the Daughters of the King meeting with 70 people around a documentary film, discussion and prayerful worship and preaching on the subject.

When I see the effects of the opioid crisis on our streets and literally on my front doorstep and at my garage, what I see are 100 people coming to worship at an addiction and recovery mass on Saturday night, parishioners supporting those in halfway houses, developing a compassionate response towards others and growing in self-awareness of our own addictive and destructive behaviors.

When I think of gun violence and mass shootings, what I see are Republicans and Democrats in the chapel meditating before a downtown rally, with the intention of trying to see solutions beyond the usual political propaganda.

When I think of those who are hungry and food insecure in our community, what I see are the children from Godly Play bringing to the altar an abundant harvest of fresh produce from their garden to share with the Lancaster Food Hub.

When I see the generational impacts of poverty, race and segregation in our city, what I see are tutors being recruited and prayed for, Ollie’s Closet collections and Head Start children, staff and family arriving every day.

When I see the high cost of stress and sedentary aging on mental and physical health, what I see are the redesigned rooms in the basement of the parish house offering prayer, yoga and meditation every day of the week.

These are just a few 2019 examples of the ways in which, since 1744, the people of Saint James have been responding to the Gospel.

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There is so much for which we give thanks to God in terms of ministries, efforts and projects coming to fruition this year. We are such a vibrant and dynamic church, literally seven days a week and twelve months of the year. Because of all your gifts, Saint James is increasingly inspiring and equipping many other churches around the region and across the country.

The vestry and I invite you to consider where you and your particular gifts fit into the generous story of Saint James. As we look to another year of worship, ministry and community building, we are asking each household to write itself into the ongoing story of faithful life in this place. One active way of doing so is by your financial giving. Please read the enclosed form carefully and provide your prayerful response to this annual request. In doing so, your vestry, rector and staff team can give their full attention to planning for the coming year, including a 275th anniversary capital campaign for important renovations and improvements across our beautiful campus.

In closing, we give thanks for over 300 parishioners who could gather at various events last weekend to mark the 275th anniversary of our founding. As we look forward to a year of joyful observance, I hope in the next six months you will take the time to visit the remarkable exhibit on Saint James at Lancaster History. It is in learning from past generations, their struggles and triumphs, their faith in God, their profound generosity and contributions to the world that we draw the inspiration to run with perseverance the race set before us in our time.

With love and gratitude,

The Rev. David W. Peck
XXIII Rector