From the Rector
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. (Psalm 127)
God has given us a household with a heritage of 154 years of service to the community of Berea, OH for which we are to care. Our first instinct might be to look to the past for inspiration and to conserve and maintain the best of what we remember from past times. And while there is a lot of value in looking to the past for inspiration, we believe in a God who is “making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). As a church, we are called to have a forward moving trajectory rather than a static glance to the past. The Church as a movement is a response to Jesus’ call to follow him and help extend his reign on earth. We are not a museum or a social club that happens to support worthy charitable efforts. We are, rather a community of people committed to proclaiming God’s love in worship, community, and in our service. At St. Thomas, we are a people on the move. In my time at St Thomas, I have been impressed and heartened by our commitment to finding new and innovative ways to preach the Gospel in the 21st century. I look forward to continuing my journey alongside you as we seek to be faithful to the mission God has given us. Indeed, I look forward to renewing my commitment with you this Fall during our stewardship campaign.
Stewardship is a core value of the Christian faith. As disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to commit ourselves to the mission of his Church. We are called to commit our hearts to this effort, sharing the love God has given us with others; mean words of encouragement rooted in the hope we have Christians to our friends, family, and neighbors. It can also mean, inviting those closest to us to experience the love of God’s beloved community here at St. Thomas. We are also called to offer our talents, education, and skills in service of Jesus’ mission of transforming the world. All of us, whether we realize it or not, is uniquely gifted in some way and called to offer that something to the mission of Christ’s Church.
We are also called to offer our material support, including monetary contributions, to the mission of the Church. As someone who grew up in a family where money was seldom discussed, I can understand how this aspect of stewardship can make some very uncomfortable. The inconvenient fact, however, is that it costs money to further our mission and care for the legacy that we have been entrusted. As Psalm 127 reminds us, we are a household and, as in any family household, we must work together for our mutual support. We have a lovely church building and physical plant that needs to be maintained and occasionally repaired in order to serve the needs of our mission. We have several paid staff, aside from myself, that help in sustaining and the building-up of our parish church. We have countless supplies and other expenses that are part of the day-to-day running of the church. The leadership of the St. Thomas has been fiscally disciplined in our use of resources and are attempting to build a vision that is sustainable into the future. However, we all need to work together in this effort. As members of St Thomas, God has given us responsibility to care for this church community, including its material support.
God doesn’t ask us to give us more than we are able to give but God does ask us to examine ourselves and the ways we have supported the mission of church. He asks to be as generous as we can be in our given life situation. As we journey together this Fall, I ask you to examine the ways in which you have committed yourself to Jesus’ mission this past year and the ways in which you might be feeling called to contribute over the next year. I will be journeying alongside you in all of this and as your pastor, I welcome any opportunity to talk or pray with you during this stewardship season.
Our Stewardship campaign begins on October 7th and will conclude on November 4th. During worship, you will hear from members of our community as well as others who have benefited
from our ministry. We will also have displays set up before and after each of our weekly services representing the whole breadth of ministry here at St. Thomas. It will be an opportunity for all of us recommit ourselves to the ministries which we already participate and perhaps learn about a new ministry.
You will also receive a pledge card, which will help you plan your own contribution and will help us plan for our 2019 budget. The pledge cared will also have room for you to express other ways, aside from material support, you plan to help support our mission at St. Thomas Episcopal Church. As we seek to recommit ourselves to our lives together at St. Thomas, my prayer for us is that our hearts be open wide to the power of generosity in your lives. And my prayer is that together, we can help God build the church God needs us to be.
Pr. Dave Connor, Interim Rector