2019 stewardship campaign
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Join your parish leadership and your fellow parishioners in making a generous pledge of the first fruits of your time, talent and treasure to Saint James. If possible, an increase in giving will strengthen and extend every aspect of our common life.
A message from Father David
If faith, hope and love do not drive our lives then we know other things will. Writing in his letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul is totally realistic about this. Especially when he says, “the greatest of these is love.” I think he says this because faith can be merely intellectual, and hope can be abstract. But love is a feeling that is easily and deeply felt and is the hardest of them to leave behind.
The reason we need to focus our Christianity on faith, hope and love—quite apart from “church”—is that these things lead us to gratitude. Gratitude is the orientation of our heart and mind that changes not just how we see the world, but how we are present or absent from every moment of our lives.
As members of Saint James, your Vestry and Rector are asking you to make your biggest commitment of the year to God, the Church of Jesus Christ and Saint James with gratitude. The first commitment I want you to make is time. If we had all the money in the world but nobody showing up for the work of worshiping God, or growing in faith, or serving their neighbor, then we would just be a noisy gong and clanging symbol. What you commit to give in time is our most valuable currency.
What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love mercy and walk humbly with God.
What does membership in the Episcopal Church expect of you? To pray daily, to worship in your church weekly and to give of your time, talent and treasure to the mission of the church which is sharing the good news of Jesus and serving others in Christ’s name.
What does Saint James need from you? We just need your gratitude to God.
We believe that anything you give out of your gratitude to God—whether of time, talent or treasure—has a power that nothing else does. No amount of money can replace you. Your presence in worship and your presence in ministry, whether as an usher or choir or committee member, volunteering at Head Start, taking communion to or praying for someone who is sick, repairing a house in Puerto Rico, helping on the sound board, making coffee on Sunday morning, caring for altar linens or standing as a candidate for Vestry, our stewardship season rejoices in the voices of parishioners who remind us why we give so generously and sacrificially to Saint James. They remind us that we can only be a church when we are together. We can only be a growing, grateful and joyful church if we all are growing personally and gratefully present.
If these two things are achieved, if you can pledge to use your time and talent at Saint James to grow spiritually and be gratefully present, then what you pledge financially will truly be the icing on the cake.
Despite the death in the last decade of a significant number of parishioners who were giving at very generous levels to Saint James, those of us who remain and so many new members have consistently given financially at high levels capable of funding bold ministry. In so doing, our giving has managed to remain fairly stable over the last ten years, despite the loss of so many who gave so much. But while income is relatively flat, costs continue to rise, particularly health insurance, utilities, taxes and campus maintenance. And our pledge and offering income falls about 5% short of expenses a year. This deficit needs to be fixed by an increase in income or a cut in spending—either in ministry or care of our historic campus.
We have a congregation, a campus and a staff team, together with excellent leadership at every level of the parish, that has created one of the most
vibrant churches in the country. We are singing God’s praises in every style of prayer and music known to the church; we are sharing this joy via Livestream, building a new virtual congregation around the globe; we are safeguarding God’s people with excellent training to ensure we are not a place where abuse of children or adults happens or goes unnoticed. We are pioneers of contemplative prayer, using meditation and yoga in our work with those who are sick and dying; in work with our children, youth and families, in our daily prayers and even in Lancaster County Prison. And by hosting and supporting Head Start and Carter & MacRae schools, we are partners in the most important work of poverty transformation in the lives of the youngest and most vulnerable neighbors and families in our midst.
It is a nearly miraculous achievement that despite all the social change of recent generations and across the centuries, Saint James has grown for 275 years to be a place that is now more active in prayer every week with more people than at any other time in our history. In thanksgiving for the ways each of us is growing in faith, hope and love, I hope you will join me in giving a greater tithe to the greater glory of God in gratitude for all that he is doing in your life and through your parish.
Yours in Christ,
David W. Peck, Rector