Focus on Jesus

Word…

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Every church

Burst her seams to breaking

Rattling windows, shaking doors

She must get out; he will get out

Grace engorged and gouged with God.


See [name of your church] where it stands

One structure among, perhaps, but no

Mark its life; follow its promise

Filling futures with the fired breath of God.


Stretching, distending its inhabitants

Pushing headlong into Divine

Dare come as one but leave united

Wounded ’round with One like God.*


Mere wood and stone yet its ground is holy

Refusing ramparts, its surrounding sway

Wrapping ’round each willing person

Raising reality to the heights of God.


At once human, at once Divine

Sin-stained legions pack its walls

To watch Spirit swallow low expectations

To hear that rumbling laughter of God.

*cf. Revelation 1:13

Kelleyrenz


Example…

Focusing on Jesus … every Sunday

Kelley Renz

We go to church to find Jesus there, as if He were hiding behind the altar, crouched down behind the communion rail. He must laugh at our seeking, we who carry Him within us, each of our hearts a tabernacle, as full of Him as any saint, if we would only recognize our divine cargo!

And oh! how I needed Him this past Sunday!

I walked down the hallways of my church and hoped to meet Him. And I did: in Donna who came ‘round the corner and greeted me with her smile and a hug. And there Hewas again in Joe, who looked to tease and cause a laugh. I ventured further down the hall and found Rowan, just two, who cannot comprehend a world without mystery, without wonder to be explored and marveled in. He was a good reminder where my mind should be.

On Jesus. On giving and receiving. On being Him.

We don’t have to wait for the opportunity; it is everywhere, in every time, even when we are alone, but especially at church. We get to slip into Him and sit with Him a bit. Watch with Him. The Word … always speaking, always creating, always transforming, even in our down times.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

    and return not thither but water the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

 so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;

    it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

    and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

We are a privileged people. We are participants in this salvation history, partakers and participants. We get to help bring the kingdom to the world. We get to bring the Word and exemplify it.

It is metaphor, yes, but metaphor is far from passive. God moves in metaphor. God fulfills metaphor.

So, yes, we must continue to watch for Jesus when we come to church. God laughs because we are awake and willing! There is no more powerful human being than he or she who seeks and takes hold of what is found!

If we look for Jesus, we will find Him. There is no mistaking this. The example is there, in our churches, in the pews, on the altars, in the hallways. In you. In me.

May we remember.

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Mentoring the Young

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 11: 18-19

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“Mentor the Young” is one of five ministry “imperatives” that Bishop Ed Little prays for us to do.  It is part of his vision for what the Diocese of Northern Indiana “will bequeath to future generations of Christians.”   The five imperatives provide our focus for this year’s monthly editions of By Word and Example. 

 For this month of September, we highlight the fifth imperative, Mentor the Young.  As our “Word” lesson, we use Bishop Little’s own words from his 2013 diocesan address.  These are words to pray over in our congregations, to consider in our Bible studies and any gathering where we intentionally seek how we should best respond to God’s abundance. 

 Our “Example” article is “Don’t be Lost…Be Found” - a first-hand account of this summer’s ministry at Camp New Happenings.  Our correspondent is Rev. Dan Layden, rector at St. Alban’s in Fort Wayne, and a participant in this special camp for children who have parents who are incarcerated. 

May you be blessed by the Word and Example offered here!


WORD

Imperative #5 – Mentor the Young

Bishop Ed Little, introduced by Linda Buskirk 

“Our young people are our future,” we often say.  Bishop Ed Little’s vision for what the Diocese of Northern Indiana “will bequeath to future generations of Christians” includes intentional ministry to “mentor the young.”   For insight into why the Bishop considers this one of five imperatives of ministry, here are excerpts from his 2013 Diocesan Address:

 

This is a Kingdom issue and a conversion issue.  Father Matt Marino, Canon for Youth and Young Adults in the Diocese of Arizona, recently wrote an extensive article in The Living Church entitled, “Renewing the Youth in Youth Ministry.”  Among other things, he says:

 “The years from birth to 19 comprise 25 percent of our life expectancy.  According to researchers, 77 percent of those who choose to follow Christ do so before turning 21.  Here is a question to ask your church treasurer:  What percentage of our budget is dedicated to the 25 percent of our lives in which four-fifths of us make decisions to follow Christ?  Is yours anywhere near 25 percent?”

He goes on to issue a warning:

“It’s possible to invest in the wrong sort of youth ministry, but what’s worse is not caring enough about young people to invest in them at all.   …Many students tell us that they want to “know God” and leave for churches that are unapologetic in their Christian message and willing to give answers rather than endlessly “embracing questions.” ...We lost students when we defunded leadership for them, organized them around social and political goals, and did not give them a gospel to orient their lives around and articulate to others.”

 Now the good news is that in the Diocese of Northern Indiana, ministry to young people – children, youth, and college students – is profoundly Christ-centered.  We have not succumbed to the temptations that Fr. Matt warns about.

…Many of our churches, not surprisingly, are too small to be able to mount effective programs for children and youth. Many of our churches, indeed, don’t have any children and youth. They are filled with people my age, and the only time a child appears in church is when the child comes to visit a grandparent. That’s reality.  

 … Small churches need to think beyond the traditional models for children’s and youth ministry. Some possibilities:

·        Intergenerational Sunday School – mingling children of different ages as well as adults in a single learning environment

·        Joining forces with neighboring Episcopal churches, to form children’s and youth ministries that generate the enthusiasm that draw young people together. This pattern is already being tried in the Calumet Episcopal Ministry Partnership, and particularly in areas where parishes are relatively close to one another, such experiments are both practical and possible.

·        Joining forces with other Christian churches, to form ecumenical children’s and youth ministries. In Plymouth, for example, five neighboring churches have formed the Adams Street Kids, a strong and successful youth program for many years. It would be particularly appropriate for us to partner with our friends in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to form joint youth groups.

…We are a small diocese with limited resources. But we can do great things for Jesus, not least with the young people whom the Lord places in our care. We share the Gospel with children and youth, in the end, not because we’re concerned about institutional survival – but because that ministry is at the very heart of God’s plan for us. Moses outlined that plan more than a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, in his final charge to the people of Israel:

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”  

Deuteronomy 11:18-21

 

Example

Camp New Happenings 2014:  “Don’t be Lost…Be Found!”

Stone from the gardens of St. Alban's

Stone from the gardens of St. Alban's

The Reverend Daniel K. Layden

Rector, Saint Alban's Episcopal Church

The Diocese of Northern Indiana hosted the seventh annual Camp New Happenings this summer.  This special camp is for children, ages 8 to 12, who have a parent who has been incarcerated.  These children may otherwise be forgotten and not get a chance to experience camp.   

For most of these campers, many from cities such as South Bend, Gary, and Fort Wayne, Camp New Happenings is the biggest taste of the great outdoors they will experience.  They love to swim in the lake.  They play hours of four-square, and the Ga-Ga pit is a particular favorite place to be.  Afternoons are filled with games such as kickball and Frisbee-football.   In the evening, there is fun around the campfire.  Each night brings a special snack surprise -- moonpies and kettle-corn are big hits.  Munching is accompanied by singing fun, learning Christian songs.

Camp is not all fun and games.  The children learn to respectfully live together.  Many great life lessons are taught by the dedicated staff.  Knowing that there is someone who deeply cares about them and how they act is extremely impacting. 

This year, we were fortunate to be with three other camps at Camp Mack.  Drama, arts, and sailing camps were simultaneously hosting young people.  One evening we were invited to a special dinner with the other camps:  Christmas Dinner in July!   The children of all four camps got to know people they otherwise might never have met.

That dinner was such a hit that we invited all the other camps to our special Thanksgiving dinner later in the week.  Camp has a way of bringing together people from many different backgrounds.  Further, we used this time as an opportunity to share our gift of songs.  Pastor Mose Carter spoke from the heart, and many were touched as we sang “Sanctuary.”

Another hit was the morning times for Arts & Crafts and Christian Education.  The kids always love to make vision boards, collages, and many other special craft items.  In Christian Education the theme was, “Lost and Found.”   We examined a different parable each day.  The first day was focused on the parable of the lost sheep.  The second day we looked at the parable of the sower.  Wednesday we studied the parable of the Good Samaritan.  On Thursday we explored the parable of the Prodigal Son also known as the parable of the forgiving Father.  Finally, on Friday we looked at the parable of the talents. 

 It was an amazing week where we talked about what it meant to be lost.  We discussed what it meant to be on rocky ground.  We also talked about what it meant to be found and to be on good soil.    Each child was encouraged to know that God seeks each of us out and finds each of us.  Finally everyone was reminded that we have special talents given to us by God.  Overall, we learned about our Awesome God!

 Camp New Happenings is a special camp lead by special people.  Mrs. Charlotte Strowhorn brings it all together while Pastor Mose Carter leads us through the week.  A big thanks is also extended to Bishop Little.  His passion to mentor the young is the driving force behind everything.  Lastly and most importantly, Camp New Happenings takes place because of the generosity of many like you.  We pray that there will be many more summers filled with Camp New Happenings.

 

 

Feeding the hungry...

And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 

(Matthew 14:19 NIV)

Jesus spoke to Peter and to each of us, "Feed my sheep."

Jesus spoke to Peter and to each of us, "Feed my sheep."

Even when Jesus was in the middle of a miracle, He used humans to help carry out His work.  God continues to use our hands and feet today in ministry, feeding people spiritually and literally. 

 “Feed the Hungry” is one of five ministry “imperatives” that Bishop Ed Little prays for us to carry out.  It’s part of his vision for what the Diocese of Northern Indiana “will bequeath to future generations of Christians.”   The five imperatives provide our focus for this year’s monthly editions of By Word and Example. 

 For this month of August, we highlight this fourth imperative.  As our “Word” lesson, we use Bishop Little’s own words from his 2013 diocesan address.  These are words to pray over in our congregations, to consider in our Bible studies and any gathering where we intentionally seek how we should best respond to God’s abundance. 

 Our “Example” article for “Feed the Hungry” is the wonderful servant ministry of Trinity Logansport.   God blessed the people of Trinity with a particularly abundant gift several years ago, and they are still joyfully responding today.

 May you be blessed by the Word and Example offered here!

Linda Buskirk

 

Participating in God's Vision

Word:

In his address to the Diocesan Convention in 2013, Bishop Ed Little offered an inspiring challenge to all of us.  It was a vision for what the Diocese of Northern Indiana of today “will bequeath to future generations of Christians.”   The vision incorporates “Five Imperatives of Ministry.”  Each of these is a focus for this year’s monthly editions of By Word and Example. 

For this month of August, we highlight the fourth imperative, “Feed the Hungry,” with Bishop Little’s own words – excerpts from his diocesan address:

 

Before I directly address this fourth imperative, I’m going to take us on a brief digression on the topic of mission. The Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer includes the following question and answer:

Q:  What is the mission of the Church?

A.  The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

Christians often struggle over the meaning of this definition. Is mission primarily about evangelism (helping people to enter a living relationship with Jesus Christ) or about responding to the desperate needs of the world around us (poverty, hunger, racism, issues of war and peace and economic justice)?  The answer, of course, is Yes!

Mission is about evangelism – and it’s about caring for the poor. Mission is about our eternal destiny – and about participating in God’s vision for a just and peaceful world.  Neither is complete without the other. And so the fourth imperative (“Feed the Hungry”) is intimately bound up with the third (“Proclaim Good News”).  The third and fourth imperatives are two sides of the same missionary coin, and communities that focus on one to the exclusion of the other are headed for trouble.

When I say, “Feed the Hungry,” by the way, I’m using the phrase generically, to refer to a whole range of responses to the world and its needs.

… As an example of what I’m talking about, a word about the ministry which we hope to develop on the west side of South Bend: Mother Tina Velthuizen will retire as rector of Holy Trinity, South Bend, in early 2014, after 22 years of superb ministry.

Holy Trinity has a long and unusual history. The parish was founded in 1913 when 83 Hungarian families migrated from the Roman Catholic to the Episcopal Church.  Bishop John Hazen White received them en masse, and for many years Holy Trinity served this poor and economically stressed community from central Europe. While a few descendants of the original Hungarian families still worship at Holy Trinity, the parish is now located in a poor and predominantly African American neighborhood with a childhood poverty rate (according to latest figures) of about 75%.  The parish has already made a significant impact on the neighborhood – sponsoring, for example, neighborhood meetings that focus on the issues of violence, and providing the home for a community garden.  

Now, as we prepare for the transition early next year,* we are asking the question: What one or two ministries can we take on in the immediate, five-block area around Holy Trinity? Whatever “Feed the Hungry” means for Holy Trinity and our presence on the west side of South Bend, the focus is local. As a wise former priest of this diocese once said, “We can’t do everything. We can’t fix the city. But we can do one or two things well.”

And that’s the challenge that all of us face. What one or two things can we do well?

What one or two things

can we do well?

… So this fourth imperative reminds us that Jesus asks us to minister to the whole person. We can’t proclaim the Gospel unless we take seriously the painful realities that people face every day; and we can’t deal with those realities unless we offer the One whose life, death, and resurrection is our only source of hope.

Mission rests on two texts: Matthew 25 – “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me”; and Matthew 28 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”  May we be faithful to both callings!

 

*New ministry opportunities are being pursued this year by the people of Holy Trinity, South Bend, with Rev. Terri Bays, Priest in Charge.

 

Questions for reflection in a church gathering:

1.      Tell me about a time when our congregation was at its best in representing Christ.  What made that possible? 

2.      What do you personally feel called to contribute as a representative of Christ and His church?

3.      If Jesus came to our community today, what would He think is the most important thing our parish should be doing in His name? 

 

Example:

When you start giving things, things come back to you. 

When you start giving things, things come back to you. 

Serving Christ in Logansport

When one learns about the tremendous outreach ministries of Trinity Episcopal Church in Logansport, a natural question might be, “How do they afford it?”  As it turns out, many years ago, the church invested a large estate gift at the Cass County Community Foundation, and determined that half of the annual proceeds of the fund would go to Outreach ministry and half to building maintenance.   But if you conclude that THAT is how Trinity Logansport “affords” its apostolic outreach ministry, you are not realizing the full power of being a joyful giver.

Father Clark Miller, Rector of Trinity Logansport, explains:  “When we started looking outside our walls, we started to grow.  When you start giving things, things come back to you.  The people of Trinity give willingly of their money and time.  People don’t say, ‘let the endowment take care of it’ – they jump in to help.”

Trinity’s largest Outreach ministry is its annual school backpack project, which has grown to an amazing 1,200 backpacks a year!  Children and their families line up around the block on the day the backpacks are available at Trinity.  Kids choose the backpack they want from grade-appropriate selections.  This day has evolved into a back-to-school event – even free haircuts are provided.   

While Trinity’s endowment certainly helps, members of the congregation personally purchase backpacks and supplies all year long.  People may be reimbursed from the Fund, but most don't ask for this.

 Outreach funds also buy hats and mittens that are given away in the neighborhood.  A food pantry is operated every two weeks and Trinity partners with other churches to host a Saturday lunch for those who need a good meal.

Trinity is intentional about getting people involved in Outreach and the life of the parish.  For example, one older woman who can’t come to the church to help make ham loaves (a long-time fundraising project for the general fund), stays at home and crunches cartons and cartons of crackers used in the recipe.  Her contribution is celebrated along with everyone else’s.

While personal contributions expand Trinity’s ability to serve, the church also tithes 10% of its annual pledge dollars to Outreach ministries.

“We talk about tithing a lot,” says Father Miller.  “Perhaps this subject comes easier because people see the results and rewards of Trinity’s corporate ‘giving away’ and how much Trinity receives back – how gifts are multiplied, and people feel great about the impact.  We have felt on more than one occasion that God has provided for us because we have taken this path.”

Trinity’s experience is an example of living the Diocesan Imperative of “Feed the Hungry.”  It is also an example of the spiritual and resource rewards of joyful giving in God’s name.

Proclaim the Good News!

Proclaim Good News!  This is our joy to do as believers in Jesus Christ.   It is also part of Bishop Little’s vision of the future of the Diocese of Northern Indiana… that we “will bequeath to future generations of Christians” the Good News of Jesus Christ.  This imperative for our diocese is our focus for this month’s new writings in By Word and Example.

 Our Word article is written by Mother Michelle Walker, a proud graduate of our Diocesan Congregational Development Institute (DCDI).  Mother Walker reflects on a tool that invites the Holy Spirit into our conversations, the Relationship Life Cycle. 

 Our Example article, by Kelley Renz, is an eye-witness account of a very public celebration of 175 years of Episcopal ministry in Fort Wayne, where the lay and clergy from all three Fort Wayne parishes were on parade.  Bishop Little even joined the procession in a carriage! 

Bishop Ed Little commemorating Fort Wayne's 175.

Bishop Ed Little commemorating Fort Wayne's 175.

 The purpose of By Word and Example is to inspire congregations to act on the Five Imperatives of Ministry for our diocese.  If you have an example to share, or would like to provide a word article about a lesson learned, or a book review, please contact me via email. 

 In His service,

Linda Buskirk

Linda Buskirk, Editor, By Word and Example

Email: 

 

The Relationship Cycle in Real Life

Example: Proclaim the Good News

By Mother Michelle Walker

When I arrived for my first weekend of CDI over six years ago I had NO idea what to expect.  My priest had urged me to attend proclaiming that “it would be good for me.”  I (mostly) willingly went along.  I’ll admit that those first few weekends were tough.  Not only was Church Development a new topic for me, the whole experiential approach to learning was not exactly comfortable.  What I didn’t realize then, and am only beginning to realize now, is how those skills and tools have formed me and how they help me share my faith in my day to day life.

In the last six months, one tool specifically has risen up to be my constant companion.  That tool is the Relationship Life Cycle (page 80 in the CDI manual).  You might remember that it begins with Create and Negotiate Relationships, continues on to Agreement, and eventually reaches Stability where everyone is happy.  Life is good.  The thing with that tool, however, is that it accurately depicts The Rubs, possibly Blowouts, that happen in everyday life when our friends and family don’t do exactly what we want them to do.  And from those Blowouts specifically it shows us that we either Withdraw and Terminate the Relationship, Go Back and pretend that nothing happened, or Accept New Realities and then Renegotiate that relationship.  Here is where the reality encounters my personal life.

For reasons only known to God, I have experienced Rubs and even Blowouts with several of my good friends in the last six months.  I can’t explain where any of them came from but I was able to recognize in the moment that a Blowout was happening.  I even went to my CDI manual to refresh myself on the options after Blowout and made a conscious prayerful choice about how I wanted to proceed.  For me, it’s natural and even sometimes easy to Withdraw from the relationship.  I refused to allow myself to do that.  Instead I reminded myself how Christ calls us to be in community with one another, even when it feels overwhelmingly difficult … like it did so many times in the early Church (see Acts for loads of details!).   It wasn’t easy for me, nor the early Church.  That whole Renegotiating Relationship piece can be painful and full of tears and it was filled with more prayers than I’d ever imagined.  However, I can say that on the other side of it is a stronger relationship with the person and a deeper faith, based in experience, that the Holy Spirit is always there to help me.  I just have to listen.

Interestingly enough, a few weeks ago I had an opportunity to coach two young men through this very same Relationship Life Cycle.  A Blowout hit.  A little Withdrawal happened.  Then a coming together to discuss the situation followed.  I was blessed with the opportunity to help them navigate those murky waters.  And who would have thought that on a hot sweaty afternoon at a picnic table I would be proclaiming the Good News of Christ by teaching the Relationship Life Cycle?  But I did.  As I explained the model, we talked about Jesus and forgiveness and friendship and by the grace of God they came together as friends again.  It was a sacred moment for all of us.

 I don’t share this story because I am some great CDI trainer that has all the tools and models in her back pocket.  I share this story because I believe deep in my heart that the best way we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ is through how we act and interact with the people around us, particularly when we’re in a compromised situation.  In these instances I was able to utilize a CDI tool to frame the situation and respond in a Spirit-filled way instead of an instinctual-Michelle way.  I can guarantee you that the Spirit-filled way is always, always, always going to be better.  So I am thankful that I’ve allowed myself to be stretched through my CDI experiences and that God began providing me with tools to share His Love long before I even knew what to do with them.  May the tools from CDI (and beyond) do the same for you!

 

A Proud Moment in the City of Churches

WORD -- Proclaiming the Good News

By Kelley Renz

On May 10, 2014, the three Episcopal Churches of Fort Wayne – Trinity, St. Alban’s, and Grace – gathered with Bishop Ed Little to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the founding of the Episcopal Church in this, the city of churches. Dozens worked together for months to plan the celebration. Over 200 joined in. Pictures donned the pages of the Journal Gazette. Reporters walked around asking questions, and I – with the others gathered to sing, celebrate the Eucharist, and reconsider our history – smiled broadly and whispered profound gratitude to God.

Reverends Thomas Hansen, Kathy Thomas, and Dan Layden

Reverends Thomas Hansen, Kathy Thomas, and Dan Layden

The priests – Tom, Kathy, and Dan – walked together down Berry Street. They wore their vestments, announcing to every onlooker that this was about God, this parade on a beautiful Saturday morning in May. Our Bishop sat atop a horse-drawn carriage. He made me think of Bishop Kemper, the diocese’s first Bishop, traveling here, perhaps the very same way, and envisioning a parish, a place for those who longed for the liturgy, the word of God, and the Book of Common Prayer.

Bishop Kemper would help Our Lord lay the foundation for three parishes, three separate houses of worship filled with thousands of people who, through the years, have been nurtured, challenged, and sent to proclaim what they received week to week at the hands of God and one another.

On May 10, 2014, we came together to do what they did, and very publicly so.

Trinity's Robert Beatty

Trinity's Robert Beatty

Bishop Little reminded everyone this wasn’t a past event we were commemorating; it was a reminder to be the people God calls and enables us to be, to attract others to Him, to spread His message, to fulfill the mandate of our diocese by nurturing a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a heart for the lost, a willingness to do whatever it takes, and a commitment to one another.

For me, carrying the flag of the Episcopal Church in that parade, and watching my brothers and sisters walk, sing, laugh, talk, and praise God, this celebration was about an identity we were willing to wear in front of the entire city, and I wanted to make sure that identity was well understood. I looked at Ron and Linda, Mick and Kathy. I looked at Nyla. I saw John and Amy with their kids Robert and Julia. I knew we were all so different, different backgrounds, different economic classes, different political beliefs, and probably even different values. But our love for Jesus Christ and our knowledge of His inclusivity, our hunger for the Eucharist, and our deep awareness and recognition that we grow better with one another than separately, that perhaps begins to describe our identity as Episcopal Christians.

Yes, Jesus can be loved in other churches. He can be served and known under different flags, but the flag I carried that day, the flag of the Episcopal Church, reveals Jesus in a unique way, in a challenging and exciting way, in a way each of us, as Episcopal Christians must search for and find the right words to proclaim.

Grace and Gratitude

Grace & Gratitude at Trinity, Fort Wayne

by Linda Buskirk

photo by Trinity Episcopal's Daniel Dombeck.

photo by Trinity Episcopal's Daniel Dombeck.

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

2 Corinthians 9: 6-7 (ESV)

 

A fresh batch of stewardship volunteers at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Wayne wanted to convey cheerful messages about their ministry – and more frequently than once a year.   They prayed and read biblically-based books and articles about spiritual growth reflected in joyful giving.  They thought about God’s grace, how it was witnessed over and over at Trinity, and how grateful they were because of it.  It felt good to reflect on these things.  But how would they pull all that together for stewardship?

Suddenly they found their inspiration from the Book of Common Prayer, in Rite One:

Open, O Lord, the eyes of all people to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works, that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, they may honor thee with their substance, and be faithful stewards of thy bounty.

The Stewardship Committee became the “Grace and Gratitude Ministry” with this statement of purpose:  to help the people of Trinity behold the gracious hand of God in our shared life together so that, rejoicing in these blessings, we may glorify Christ as grateful stewards of His bounty.

Helping people behold all that God is doing is clearly a year ‘round task, and a joyful one!  For the annual pledge drive, the “G & G” Ministry created a new mission-focused explanation of the church budget, accented with photos of ministries in action. 

They launched a “Gratitude of the Month” recognition.  Here are some examples:

  • Thankful for our volunteers.  The group estimated that just to make a typical Sunday happen at Trinity, more than 140 hours are given!  Symbols of each type of service were placed in an offering plate that was set on the altar – an usher badge, a candle for the acolytes, a linen purificator for Altar Guild, a bulletin for those who fold them faithfully each week, crayons from Sunday School. The plate was overflowing, and the congregation was delighted with this expression of gratitude.
  • The heat is on! - Thanks for new boilers and those who supported the capital campaign that made it possible (Red Hots candies were handed out by ushers, and services were followed up with a chili competition featuring the hottest concoction).
  • Legacy of Your Life – A celebration of those who have remembered Trinity in their estate plans and a workshop about planned giving.

Creativity, fun, reminders of our blessings, and information about the impact that Trinity has on lives inside and outside the church are the focus for Grace & Gratitude’s joyful communications.