Advent Message Our Vestry Leaders Ending Hunger One Step at a Time A Race for the Cure Heritage Sunday Heaven Songs
Patrice Y. Toney
Main Photographer: Melton Sadler
Contributors to this Issue: Elnora Gore Melton Sadler Rev. Hector Sintim Patrice Y. Toney Alvah Whealton
Please email pictures and submissions for the Grapevine to: firstname.lastname@example.org
ECW Fall Festival Membership Drive Plan Saint Thomas turns 220
St. Stephenâ€™s Episcopal Church 810 N Highland Ave Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Grandparentâ€™s Night Out
Rev. Dr. Hector Sintim Priest-in-Charge
Join us for our
Services and Study Series Holy Eucharist Sundays, 11:00am Service Mid-week Service Wednesdays, 12 noon Sunday School Sunday Mornings, 10am Lenten and Advent Studies Wednesdays during Lent and Advent Season, 6pm Prayer and Bible Study Wednesdays, 6pm
The word 'Advent' comes from the Latin word 'Advents,' meaning ‘coming.' Advent is a season that makes the beginning of a new liturgical year for most Christians, and encompasses the span of time from the fourth Sunday before Christmas, until the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated. Advent is a preparatory season. A period of getting ready for the savior. A time where we enter into the closets of our lives to remove old ‚stuffs‛ in order to prepare ourselves worthily to receive the new blessings with the coming of the Lord into the world as the incarnate God. Thus, to make one’s souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer’s coming in Holy Communion through grace with his people who are called by his name and Who are obedient to his will for them, and finally to make ourselves ready for His coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world. In other words, it is making a way for our Lord’s birth so that He will get a place in our lives to live. This season has significance because it is a season of looking forward and waiting for something greater; both for annual celebration of the event of Christ's birth, and for the time when Christ will come and dwell among His people again. The Advent wreath which is vital to this season, is made of evergreen boughs, symbolizing everlasting life that Christ have come to give humankind. The symbolic circle of the wrath represents the continuous love of God, with no beginning and no end, as well as the soul's immortality. Love with no break, with no conflict, love with no any negative interference or influence. The candles are traditionally lit in the following order: purple, purple, and pink, purple, white. The first is called the "Candle of Hope." It symbolizes faith in God through Jesus keeping his promises to humanity everywhere. The second is called the "Candle of Preparation," reminding Christians to "get ready" to receive God‘s incarnate son into their lives. The third candle is the "Candle of Joy." This recalls the angels singing joyfully about the birth of Christ as a way of their witness to the world of a new King who has come to liberate his people from the hands of the evil one - the land of slavery into the promise land. The fourth candle, the "Candle of Love," reminds Christians that God loves them enough to send his only Son to Earth as their savior and Redeemer, and reminding them that all are Welcome irrespective of their past, or present. The "Christ Candle," the white candle in the center, stands for Jesus Christ himself, who is the same, yesterday, today and forever. WHAT HOPE IT HAS FOR US TODAY IN AN ERA OF ECONOMIC HARDSHIP AND UNFAVOURABLE POLITICAL CLIMATE Living in unkind and unstable political climate, economic hardship, with unemployment rating very high in the history of this nation, couple with world political unrest, unexpected natural offsets in the lives of many people and global financial bankruptcy, Advent reminds us to keep our minds, souls, hearts, emotions, emptiness, desires fixed on Jesus. This will enable the promises of God to be fulfilled within us as we continue to have faith in Him and trust him on day to day basis in our live. Time as we know it will come to an end, the kingdom of God will be definitively established, and the general judgment will be revealed- whatever we might be dealing with as an individual, group or as family are only for a season and not for a long period of time. Our forbearers gave each other a warning and a message of hope as they sang, "We shall overcome, and we shall overcome some day- soon."
The Advent season points us to the precepts of the Lord‘s love and concern for all, who said, "Know that l am with you always and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land (the land peace, abundance, employment, love, good relationship…), for l will not leave you until l have done what l have promise you" (Genesis 28:15). Advent reminds us that this is a time to have faith in the Lord in all that you do. A time to prepare at all times for the blessings, love, forgiveness and joy in God. In this season, God continues to be Emmanuel. God is always with us. This is our hope for this season. All is going to be well is the message you have to continue to proclaim to yourself and to the people around you ALL IS GOING TO BE WELL. In the sacramental life of the Church, Jesus has given us this assurance, yet some say that they cannot feel it. Jesus is asking us to accept Him and trust Him and Him only in any circumstance that we may find ourselves in today or tomorrow as He has chosen to present Himself to us in anything that we do or at any time that we call on Him. God is with us in the Sacrament of Baptism, making us His children and assuring us that we are loved by Him and that we are always welcome to Him at anytime. God is with us in the Sacrament of Confirmation, giving us the anointing of the Holy Spirit to participate in the mission of the Church and in the cares of the world crying for help. God is with us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, offering His Body and Blood as an assurance that is love is total and without reservation for all who will come to receive Him and call unto Him. During this season of Advent, God is nourishing us with His very life though signs that we can see, feel, experience, taste, hear or touch. What an awesome and a loving Gift. Our Lord Jesus Christ is Emmanuel everyday and for eternity for everyone who wishes to receive Him from now to the end of life. In this advent season, let us remind ourselves in the message of the great compassion of our God, the experience of living a reconciled relationship with God and with each other as is made available to us every day. In what has been called the "great commission," God has appointed each one to be an instrument of blessing and positive change through which every person will experience, understand and accept this gracious offer of knowing that GOD FOR US ALL AND EACH ONE FOR ONE ANOTHER. The sacramental life of the Church, instituted by Christ, is part of the proclamation of His Gospel to the whole nation, of people everywhere. In this Advent season, let the message of the Advent season speak to you in ways that go beyond the celebration of Christmas by educating someone of how to deal or face the issues of today, equipping someone by telling them your story of hope, encourage someone with your experience and empower yourself and others of positive words. May the good Lord continue to bless, guide, encourage and lead you to have faith in Him and may we make all the efforts of walking the walk and talking the talk in making a difference in someone’s life during this season. Someone once said,‛‛ The ability to stand and cope with the problem of the depends upon the spiritual foundation a person has learned to develop. Following Jesus’ teachings throughout one’s lifetime helps builds a solid foundation to have real JOY’’ in life. Have a blessed Advent and Rev. Dr Hector Sintim may the joy of the season enrich your life and those around.
OUREACH AND CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS - Bernice Toney Priest/church adviser on Outreach and church organizations. The duties are to advice and suggestion ways of doing an effective outreach programs that will help the church in attracting new members; to have bi-monthly meetings with the leaders of all the organizations and guilds in the church. Collect data for improving the life of the members within the church community. Help educate them about thier task and role in the church. Give them updates from vestry and help them in coming out with programs for the church year and any other related issues. Help organized any church programs related to outreach in and outside the church. STEWARDSHIP AND FINANCES - Donyetta Drumgoole and William Gore Priest/church adviser on stewardship and finances, keeping an effective financial record. Their duties are to advice the clergy/church on areas of saving money and ways of improving our giving, not limited to fund rising year round; Make sure bills are pay on time, in and outside the diocese and national level as it may relates. Send letters of updates of our finances and letters of encouragement on quarterly basis to all members. Making sure our annual audit and parochial report are taken care of and sent in time. Give a periodic financial updates to members during Sundays as and when is needed. Help draw suggested budget for the coming year. Come up with stewardship educational programs for the year. EDUCATION - Dwedor Ford Priest /church advisor on education. The duties are to develop educational programs for the year that will interest and meet the needs of all age groups in the church and that will attract the community. To help organize and improve weekly bible studies, week day service, once a month family prayer night, Sunday school for all age groups, community educational program that will attract new members into the church. Educate the members about the importance of education in and outside the church. Look for teachers to teach various age groups and help vacation bible school, and other educational activities for the church. Be in charge of scholarships, recognition Sundays for graduates/promotions and see that the churchâ€™s website is updated periodically. WORSHIP - Betty Dillard Priest/church advisor on worship. Duties will be to finds ways of improving our Sunday and weekly services and other special services. Meet periodically with the leaders of the Choir - adult and youth, Acolytes, Altar Guild, and Lay Liturgical Ministers to discuss ways of improving our service and to make sure that each group learns what their responsibilities and duties are and to them plan programs that will enhance our worship. Help with very special services, Pentecost, Easter and Christmas.
PASTORAL CARE â€“ Carrie Worsley The duties are to give members updates of those who are sick or are in need of assistance of any kind; make sure that all members are informed of death/ wedding announcements, and cards of all kinds are sent to members. Take care of the annual Xmas and Easter baskets for those who are in need and to see to the replenishing of the food pantry.
EVANGELISM - Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin Priest/church advisor on evangelism. Duties will be to work with and help retain our current members, encouraging those who are not coming to church and to develop ways of reaching out to new members. Come up with various forms of evangelism programs- revivals, healings services, jazz mass, and community worship, ways of practicing to better welcome visitors and new comers. Help reorganized the YAMS for an effective evangelism and to organize Lenten and Advent Series during the year and seeing that all the programs of the church are given enough publicity in the local media. PROJECTS/MEMBERS RELATIONSHIP - William Murchison Priest/church advisor on projects/physical plant of the church. Duties will be making sure the grounds and property are taken care of, including maintenance of the building - inside and outside. Developing projects that will enhance the life of the church and giving periodic reports to memberâ€™s concerning ongoing projects and other future projects of attention. Come up with ways of advertizing the church. Promote and build inter- relationships among all members in the church and strive for full participation of church members in projects of the church by delegation and other means. CLERGY WELFARE AND DUTIES - Aston King Duties are to advise clergy of their preaching, pastoral and administrative duties. Help the clergy develop and deepen their relationship with parishioners. See to the priest welfare. In the absence of the clergy, make sure supply clergy are in place and ensure the smooth running of the affairs of the church. Ensure that the clergy are given all the needed tools and help in the performance of their duties. Make sure clergy are taken care of during Christmas, Easter, Clergy appreciation day and any other that may related to their jobs. Ensure that clergy pension and other related finances are taken care of. DIOCESAN AFFAIRS AND INVESTMENTS - Melton Sadler Duties include making sure that our diocesan fair shares are paid on time to the diocese. Bishops visitations are taken care of. Parishioners received their quarterly financial statements of their contributions on time; pledge cards are distributed or sent to members as needed. Making sure that the church is well represented in all diocesan meetings and when the need arises and keeping members well informed of the happenings around the diocese. Help organize meetings with diocesan representative: Bishops, Regional Representative and any other. Find/suggest ways of investment that may improve our financial level including but not limited to fund raising. Rev. Hector Sintim / Rev. Bill Pendleton are in charge of the general administration of the church and spiritual development and growth all members, and those who enter into this house for worship and fellowship.
Ending Hunger One Step at a Time By: Elnora Gore
The Annual Winston Salem Forsyth County sponsored Crop Hunger Walk 2012 was held on October 21 at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum Annex. Crop Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local congregations, raising funds and awareness to combat hunger at home, (Crisis Control and Sunnyside Ministry) and around the world. Members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church participated, forming a walking team. The church as well as individual members gave monetary donations in support of the effort. A special thank you goes to: Patrice Toney, Jordan Toney, Janya Davis, Michaelanthony Gore, Carrie Worsley and Elnora Gore for “walking the walk.” Thank you also to the individual donors who sponsored the walkers. Both walkers and/or donors have the most vital role in making the Crop Hunger Walk successful.
St. Stephen’s ECW has joined the fight against breast cancer by raising funds for the 13th Annual Susan G. Komen NC Triad Race for the Cure®!
For the past two years, the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of St. Stephen’s has participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure. Since 2000, the Komen NC Triad Affiliate has invested over $4.2 million back into the community in the form of grants. Last year alone, they granted over $578,000 to deserving local programs. This year, our ECW contributed more than $400 to the local affiliate in honor of all the breast cancer survivors in our church. Thank you to all those who made a contribution and to those who participated in the walk! Patrice Y. Toney, ECW
Dwedor Ford and Elnora Gore at the finish line during the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Race. Breast Cancer Survivor Valeria Dove and her granddaughter Alexander also participated in the walk.
Heritage Sunday On Sunday, October 21st, St. Stephenâ€™s Episcopal Church held their annual Heritage Sunday event. This is an activity started by the Young Adult Ministry (YAMâ€™S) as a means to celebrate the various cultures and heritage of the members of our church. During the fellowship hour, members served various ethnic dishes with recipes from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and more. While eating the delicious meal, members enjoyed a presentation from a group that took a recent trip to Ghana with the Priest of our church.
By: Alvah Whealton
Heaven Songs Some months ago our choir sang a full fledged gospel rendition of "Soon and Very Soon," a joyous "heaven song.â€› I thought of other heaven songs, favorites of mine, "I'll Fly Away" and "The Unclouded Day." The heaven songs are basically joyous songs, intended not for the intellect but the spirit. For me and for many people heaven songs are not theological statements about life beyond death, no matter their words. They are a celebration of life. For a moment, in the emotional uplift of the song there is a participation in a joy that transcends our lives. It is not a joy we have to wait for until after we die; it is here in the singing of the songs. It is a celebration of the Good Life, and the Good Life is about trying to follow Jesus. For a moment, we can draw back from our limited success in following him and feel a joy in spite of it, perhaps enabled to follow him better after the song is over. It is a moment of grace.
The 58th Annual ECW Women’s Day weekend was held on Saturday, May 19th and Sunday, May 20th, 2012. This year’s Women’s Day was chaired by Valeria Dove and the St. Cecelia's Guild. The annual celebration carried the theme entitled, “Let Your Heart Be Your Guide”, which included messages about women’s health and taking care of your heart physically and emotionally. On Saturday, May 19th, Robin Brickey from the American Heart Association spoke on “the Health Aspects of Your Heart”. Women from our church and the community came to take part in the program which included a healthy meal and prizes for the guests. On Sunday, May 20th, the Women’s Day speaker was Sister Larretta Rivera Williams, RSM, who gave an empowering message for our women. Patrice Y. Toney, ECW President
Special thanks to St. Cecelia's Guild and to our guests!
By: Alvah Whealton In 1992, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder after being troubled by some of its symptoms for many years. In the spring of 1994 I was hospitalized after weeks of a growing mania and finally a psychotic break. Some refer to such periods as a nervous breakdown. I was ill enough for a number of years that I witnessed my life closing down. The depression, so often a problem, was only occasionally experienced as sadness; usually it was experienced as lethargy or vegetation. My ability to experience the pleasures I once experienced failed repeatedly. My cognitive ability to read and to enjoy movies and plays became a thing of the past. My career as a computer programmer was ended by both cognitive and emotional problems. The door to the world I had once known and thrived in became closed to me. I find some truth in the old adage that when one door is closed to us another door is opened. In the loss of so many parts of my life, fate forced me to confront something which was, for me, a frightening idea at the time. That is, I had no right of ownership to those things which were lost. They were mine only through grace, anyway. My vision of grace has changed greatly, influenced by the closing of old doors and the opening of new ones. That I breathed in and out throughout the past night, and safely awakened this morning, was not something which resulted from my intellect or my will or my self control. It was grace. At one time I thought such things stretched way too greatly the meaning of the word grace. Perhaps it required becoming older for the idea of my body's functioning to be seen and felt as a grace, from the invincibility of my thirties to the vulnerabilities of my sixties.
I have learned to take literally the idea that all things come through grace. Everything! There are the obvious gifts, like families and friends and health. But there are less obvious gifts. The redemption in our lives for things suffered and for wrong choices, is certainly a grace. Redemption occurs when our suffering and our mistakes lead to a greater understanding, a greater wisdom and, hopefully, a greater compassion. I had always assumed that motivation was something we were born with and we simply choose to use it or not use it. But I learned that something as fundamental as motivation is, itself, a matter of grace. After a period of psychosis, hospitalization, and their aftermath, followed by a second occurrence, and then a third, I found that something as basic as motivation is a grace. And I learned that graces come with no guarantees of permanence. There are many ways grace can be thwarted. It has been thwarted in my life. But from the ashes of the life I previously knew, a new vision of life emerged centered about grace and redemption. And with the new vision, there is a sense of peace with what has been lost, and a feeling of gratitude for what has been gained. One of largest doors opened to me in this, my new life, has been the door of St. Stephenâ€™s, where grace upon grace has flowed to me. Each new face, each new relationship, has been a gift to me, in a life which has been enriched beyond measure.
The ECW held their 2012 Annual Fall Festival on November 2nd, from 8:00am until 7:00pm. The Festival featured a Bakery, 50/50 raffle (won by William Gore), a Silent Auction, great food, and a Flea Market. This yearâ€™s Fall Festival was chaired by Bernice C. Toney and St. Maryâ€™s Guild. Many people from the community attended this annual event including a bus load of residents from the Brookridge Retirement Home (which is the home of Olivette Bynam).
Our fundraising goal was exceeded due to the hard work of all the women of the church, as well as assistance from the men with frying fish. Our biggest hit is always the chitterling dinners! Thanks to everyone that made this event a success, as we will be able to use the funds raised to continue our outreach efforts in the community and the church. Patrice Y. Toney, ECW President
RETENT, RECRUIT, RECLAIM By: Rev. Dr. Hector Sintim RETENTION of members A. Educate - about functioning committees of church and their duties - about the Episcopal Church (local, national, global scene) Doctrines /Canons/ Traditions - discover the talents of the congregation and their willingness to serve B. Involve - invite all functioning committees of church to review progress of the church - improve campus landscape by targeting new students - target programs/seminars toward demographic groups (seniors, married couples, teens, parents, singles) - audio tape/CD/ DVD of the services/sermons to the sick and shut-in - revival/renewal program 1-2x/year with reflective themes - church organizationsâ€™ participation in upkeep of landscape projects - mentoring: faith, professional in the program of the church - remind of and give praise for the stewardship in time, talent & treasure-all year - visits to sick/shut-in by members who are personally familiar with the sick - weekly/monthly carpool for elder members and those who will be in need - church council with representatives to from active organizations to perform - continue to teach/educate/encourage the current members to serve and worship C. Communicate - functioning and friendly internet site - update and distribute membership roster/e-mail addresses - foster vestry to congregation / rector to congregation relationship - provide accurate church calendar of activities to all members - update members of the needs/problems/income and expenditure of the church D. Follow Up keep a list of all college school members with contact update them with the progress of the church send them cards to their school address put a program in place while they are on vacation connect them with an Episcopal school to keep their faith
RECRUITMENT of new members A.
Invite - advertisements (radio, newspapers, website, diocesan house) - promote children/youth/young adult activities - promote senior citizen activities in and outside of the church - better phone triage/answering system for incoming questions - update website frequently with new and informative news B. Radical Welcome - Encourage welcome packets - Organize formal orientation during the year - post pictures/names in public space - acknowledge visitors during the service - educate greeters to welcome & to keep an effective record of new members - phone call/card follow-up to visitors / send them program of the church - mail 1-2 bulletins to visitors and friends of the parish C. Involve - survey new members needs/desires and involve them in church programs - introduce them to new ideas/programs/worship in the Episcopal Church - form buddy system with current members for emergencies
RECLAIM members no longer attending A.
Identify - send letter/survey asking if they need to update status (new/other church, plans to return) - update contact information on a regular basis - collect their views for improvements B. Involve - send invitation/upcoming bulletin to keep involve in the affairs of the church - phone call from rectors/evangelism committee to (+) responders - keep their birthday and anniversaries to send them a card - send audio/CD/DVD copy of sermon/service to them - offer transportation/carpool service to encourage them come to church - homecoming service/activity targeted toward unification - survey returning members for their needs/desires for growth/improvement/ development
Historic African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas Celebrates its 220th Anniversary PHILADELPHIA, PA - The African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas, the nation's first black Episcopal Church, founded in 1792, will commemorate 220 years of serving the faithful with two days of events celebrating faith and firsts. On Saturday, November 17, there will be a book signing and discussion of "This Far By Faith", the first complete history of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and the Episcopal Church at large. Leading the discussion will be four authors of the book: Dr. William Cutler, III; Dr. David R Constosta; Dr. William Pencak, and Dr. Emma J Lapsansky-Werner.This event, which will be held in the Great Hall of the church, is free and open to the public, and will include activities for children ages 6 to 12. On Sunday, November 18, during the 10 a.m. worship service, The Right Reverend Barbara Harris, the first woman to become a bishop in the world -wide Anglican/Episcopal Communion, will be the guest preacher. On Sunday evening, the weekend will end with a gala celebration including dinner and dancing at The Mansion at Drexelbrook, 4700 Drexelbrook Drive, Drexel Hill from 5:30 - 9:30pm. Limited tickets are available for $65 per person, and dress is semi-formal. Regarding the observance and celebration, the Rev. Fr. Martini Shaw, 17th rector, says, "To God be the glory!!!! We give God thanks for 220 years of committed service and ministry. We continue to reflectively preserve our past, joyfully celebrate our present, and faithfully embrace our future." The African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas, founded in 1792, is a Christ-centered community of faith in which the Gospel is taught, lived and spread. For further information, please call 215-473-3065 or visit www.aecst.org
Grandparent’s and Senior’s Night Out Grandparent’s & Senior Citizens Day at St. Stephen’s On October 19, 2012, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Women and the Church Outreach Committee answered the call from the Swindell Speakers Fund and The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina by welcoming seniors and grandparents to a “Friday Night Out.” Flyers were handed out as members knocked on the doors of neighbors, announcements were published in local newspapers and telephone calls were made inviting persons to come. And they came indeed! Guests were treated to a delicious meal, games were played and gifts given. Some shared that they had driven by the church on several occasions, but this was their first time entering. Members were thanked for extending the invitation. Brochures with information about the church were distributed and the fun and fellowship activities were closed by the Rev. Dr. Hector Sintim, Priest-in-Charge. Special Thanks to Bernice C. Toney, Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, Elnora Gore, the Adult Outreach Department of the Forsyth County Public Library, and all the volunteers who helped make this event a success!
STEWARDSHIP AT SAINT STEPHEN’S Why give to Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church? Because… our children need a place and programs to Sow a seed ... learn and grow in faith. Reap a Harvest Because… our adults need a place and programs to learn and grow in faith. Because… we all need a great and inspiring place to worship God. Because… our community needs great and inspiring place to remind them of God’s presence in our world. Because… sacred music and song lift our spirits to God. Because… the poor/needy who knock on our doors need a warm place to sleep and a friendly welcome in from the streets. Because… our Food Pantry needs enough food to feed those who cannot afford food to be nourished. Because… those in the hospital need visits and prayer. Because… the elderly and the infirm need visits and prayer. Because… young singles and married couples need a place to meet and explore the spiritual side of life. Because… we need a place to pray, and our world needs prayer. Because… our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinner guests find nourishment here for both body and spirit. Because…the Bible Study group and Sunday school need a place to meet and support to grow. Because… more visitors enter our church on weekdays/Sundays throughout the year to seek and to pray. Because… we have to pay electricity, oil, telephones, and all the other expenses of running a parish church. Because… our building needs continual care. Because… supporting a vital community of faith is perhaps the best investment one can make in our world today. Because… we need to hear the Good News of God’s Loving Salvation in Jesus Christ, and so does the world around us.
Because… God loves you.
STEWARDSHIP BRIEFING BY: Melton Sadler, Vestry Member Good Afternoon ladies and gentlemen, For the remainder of this year, we will be conducting a more intense stewardship program here at St. Stephen’s and a part of those stewardship efforts will involve hearing a few words, in a two minute talk, by Vestry members about Stewardship. We hope that we will bring a greater focus to our stewardship situation and to open our internal lines of communications. For a good period of time, we here at St. Stephen’s have not been as successful at our stewardship efforts as we might have been. At a recent Vestry meeting, we spent a great deal of time debating whether we should write a letter to the Diocese of North Carolina and ask for permission to pay one half of our Diocese Asking for 2013. For the benefit of those who may not know what that is, the Asking is the amount that each church contributes to the operation and outreach efforts of the Diocese. The amount is determined by a formula which is applied to our annual financial report that we submit to the Diocese. The reality of our stewardship participation, which has not been as vigorous as it could have been, had led several persons to believe that we will not be in a position to pay our Asking for 2013. As I listened to the debate about requesting to pay half of the amount requested, several things ran through my mind. First, as a parish in this Diocese, I believe that we have an obligation to lead, rather than follow, other churches in the fulfilling of our obligations. We ask all members to prayerfully review your contributions for 2012 and ask ourselves if we are fulfilling our financial obligations to our church or are we robbing God. The Asking discussion continued for quite some time with a tremendous struggle going on between the pessimists and optimists; as neither side could accurately predict what the pledge payments will be in 2013; but the discussion was vigorous, none the less. Our history of stewardship made it difficult to not agree with those who believed that we should request a lower amount; however several persons resisted that temptation. Another thing that ran through my mind during the Asking discussion is that I have never read any scripture that asks us to perform one half of anything. I am familiar with a number of passages and I don’t believe that we are, for instance, asked to” love the Lord your God with one half of your heart or one half of your mind.” We are called upon to conduct ourselves as Christians on a full time basis and not one half of the time. The decision was ultimately reached to not write the letter and to make every effort to pay our Asking and to bring the situation to the attention of the congregation and ask for your individual stewardship reviews. If we would all pitch in with our time, talent and treasure, we would be amazed at how we would have the necessary resources to carry out the spiritual ministry that we are appointed to carry out, rather than worrying about next month’s bills or other secular concerns. The final item that ran through my mind during the discussion was that in 2009, we all celebrated the first 100 years of St. Stephen’s existence and felt the pride of accomplishment that successfully existing for 100 years brings. I wonder, now, how many people are willing to provide the necessary support to insure the second 100 years. Our forefathers and mothers sacrificed a great deal in order for us to enjoy that Centennial landmark. Who, among us, is willing to look toward and provide the sufficient support to launch the next 100 years? A vision for the future of St. Stephen’s is required of all of us. Finally, we recognize that in all likelihood, there will be some members of the congregation who will not agree with the focus of our stewardship efforts for the remainder of this year. There are even persons who think that we should not talk about giving or pledges or the Capital Fund or anything financial. To those persons, we have to say that we understand your feelings, however, as the elected leadership of St. Stephen’s we have to pursue the paths that we believe are necessary to improve our overall situation. We ask that you join us in prayerfully recognizing that what we have done thus far is not sufficient, therefore we will need to change course. Thank you for listening.
Join us for our Advent Series on Wednesdays at 6:00 (a light meal will be served each week by the ECW)
Theme: “You, Your Health, and Spirituality” Nov. 28th- Dr. Dana E. Nelson ‚Children and Adult Dentistry‛ Dec. 5th- Latonya Smalls ‚Physical Movement‛ Dec. 12th- Candice Benbow ‚Your Spiritual Journey in the Midst of Crisis‛ Dec. 19th – Tiffany Noel ‚Cardiology‛
Virginia Perry ‚Mental Health‛ Advent is a time of prayer, fasting, and penitence… please come out to strengthen your relationship with God!