Jan. 27, 2015
I thought I would use some “blizzard down-time” to offer a couple of reflections on our annual meeting. I did not see a final count but I think there were about 70 in attendance. First, a great big thank you to all who came out on a cold winter morning for worship and to attend to the church’s business. Without the support, attention, and dedication of the whole congregation we’ve got nothing. I also want to offer my thanks to our parish administrator, Beth Hammond, who did a great job (as always) putting together our annual report, and organizing all of the details that need to be attended to in advance of our annual meeting. Additional thanks to Cheryl Boscia for organizing kid care during the meeting so that parents and grandparents could focus on the work of the meeting. Cheryl was assisted by our nursery attendant Alessia, and by one of our newer members Andrea Hutnak. Thank you all.
Two major things stand out for me as I think about our proceedings. The first is that the Holy Spirit was clearly at work as we moved through our nomination/election process. We had two folks nominated for clerk of the vestry, but as we went to vote Grace Malaby (our current clerk) withdrew her name with the intention of focusing her time and talent on the work of assistant treasurer. That left the work of clerk to the capable hands of Ben Sprows. Additionally, we had six seats on the vestry open and 7 nominations. One of those nominated, Jen Malloy, like Grace, decided to put her time and talent into the work of assistant treasurer (we need two) leaving six nominees for six seats. All of those who put their names forward to serve in leadership roles have found a place to offer their gifts and we are all richer for it. My thanks to all who have volunteered to serve in the coming year.
As I look at the Vestry that will be serving St. David’s this next year, I’m delighted by the fact that it is a wonderful mix of long-time, experienced members and a good size group of new folks who have stepped forward to offer their skills in moving our parish ahead. With the capable leadership of Sue Hurn as Senior Warden, Denise Izzi as Junior Warden, Lorena Dodge as Treasurer (assisted by at least two assistant treasurers), Ben Sprows as Clerk, and nine capable, energetic and creative vestry members, (Jim Belluscio*, Paula Bolig, David Boscia*, Don Cowart*, Deb Dancause, Mark Plumley, Marjorie Reeves-Briden, Dan Sepe, Anne Winch*) St. David’s is indeed in good hands for the coming year. (* = new to vestry)
The other thing that stood out for me was the fact that although we are heading into the coming year with a budget deficit (and not a small one either), I didn’t get the sense that we feel overwhelmed by this reality. I think we have, as leadership and as a congregation, struck a good balance between being mindful of our cash-flow shortfall, and focusing on those things that will continue to grow our parish and the involvement of an ever-widening group of people. Were we to become obsessed with budget shortfalls and loose sight of the main objectives of our parish, our end would be certain. Instead, I am confident that we will continue down the path we have laid out that maintains a sharp eye on our fiscal condition but focuses the majority of our time and energy on building those programs that make St. David’s a vital, growing, thriving parish. I truly believe that if we are faithful in keeping the “main thing” the main thing, the money issues will some day soon be resolved.
And so, it is with a grateful heart and a great deal of enthusiasm that I look forward to working with this new slate of officers and vestry and with all of you as we continue the good work of being the body of Christ known as St. David’s on-the-Hill.
Be safe and warm through the blizzard. Say prayers for all those who work on our behalf maintaining vital services, tending the sick, and keeping us safe. See you in Church.
Nov. 2, 2014
On this rainy, windy, cool Saturday morning I hope you are all warm, and safe, and dry, and I’m glad the rain held off for the trick or treaters last night. If our kids seem to have a whole lot more energy in church this Sunday, we’ll blame it on the sugar intake from their Halloween haul! Maybe we should re-think our plans to have one of our Youth Sunday services the Sunday after Halloween?
Not only is this Sunday Youth Sunday when our children will be taking on many of the roles of welcoming folks to church and leading us in worship at the 10am service, but it is also special because it will be the first Baptism we celebrate using our new Baptismal font. Sadie Leigh Smith, infant daughter of Erik & Jenna Smith, and great-granddaughter of Gladys Smith, one of our long-time members (60+ years!) will be welcomed into the Body of Christ on Sunday during the 10am service. There will be much joy and celebration for that happy event.
This weekend we also celebrate the feasts of All Saints & All Souls on Saturday and Sunday, a time when we remember all those who have gone before us in faith. During each of our services this weekend (Saturday 5pm, Sunday 8 & 10am) there will be an opportunity to name aloud those of your family and loved ones who have passed on to greater glory. It is a wonderful and powerful proclamation by the church that at the moment of someone’s last breath, their life has changed but not ended. I hope you will give some thought as to who you will name when the opportunity comes during our worship. The Church will be filled with the names and the memories of all those who’ve given us a wonderful witness of the Christian life.
St. David’s is also going ORANGE this weekend. You may have seen some news coverage about this national effort to fight and eventually eliminate hunger in this country. As one of our tireless saints at St. David’s likes to say: “this is America, and no one should go hungry in America!” The Cowart family has organized this campaign in a number of local schools and has invited St. David’s to join in. Please bring either a canned food donation for the Interfaith Food Pantry, or a cash contribution that will go to the work we do through Mobile Loaves & Fishes to feed the men at Harrington Hall. When you bring in your donation, you will receive an orange ribbon made by the Sunday School as a thank you and as a way to spread the word - there are people in our community who go hungry every day, and we are working to put an end to their suffering.
The other major event on the horizon is our annual “Holidays on-the-Hill Bazaar” featuring Grannies Attic, on Saturday, November 15th from 9am-2pm. This is a huge event that involves just about everyone in the parish. There are lots of ways to get involved including helping with set-up the week before the bazaar, working the day of the bazaar, helping clean up after the bazaar, to spreading the word about the bazaar! If you’d like to find a more specific way to help out and become part of this great tradition, contact either Grace Malaby - , or Beth Hammond in the parish office - , or 942-4368.
I’m sure there is something I’m forgetting to mention so you’ll simply have to join us in church to catch up on all of the many things going on at St. Davids! It continues to give me great joy to be able to serve you all as your pastor and to be part of such a caring, vibrant community of faith. See you in Church.
As our 100th Anniversary Celebration draws near, the excitement is building. It's going to be a wonderful weekend of worship, giving thanks, greeting old friends, great food and entertainment, and remembering all of the wonderful folks who've gone before us, built up this congregation, and laid the foundation for our next 100 years. And on we go!
There is such vitality and energy at St. David's at this time that it is not hard to look forward with a deep sense of excitement and anticipation. Someone approached me today with an idea for a workshop next spring asking me what I thought. What I told them was that I loved the idea and that they should run with it. I also told them that my dream for St. David's as we move into this new century is that everyone at St. David's will feel free toembrace opportunities to share their gifts/knowledge/passion with the rest of us and help us all grow and flourish - truth be told - I'm really just borrowing that dream from Jesus!
Imagine a parish where whatever you are passionate about can be shared with others in a way that we all learn and grow from your experience and enthusiasm and love of doing something well. The truth is we all have something vital to share with this growing congregation that will enrich us all and lead us into new and exciting ways of caring for each other and the world around us. That is God's dream - for each of us to use the gift of life we've been given for the building up of God's Kingdom here and now. Let's dream together with God and see what amazing adventures God has in store for us as we begin the next 100 years of being St. David's on-the-Hill.
See you in Church!
Just Keep On Smiling!
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Fix your attention on God and you'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.
If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. Romans 12:1-2, 6-8
Paul's advice to keep a smile on our face might seem trite at first glance. Does Paul have any idea how much I have on my plate?! But Paul is not being trite. Instead, he is speaking from a place of deep understanding about the ways of God and keeping all of our life in proper perspective.
Paul has a lot on his plate, too, but he has learned through experience that if he fixes his attention on God and trusts that in the end God's purposes will be accomplished, then Paul can smile, even in the midst of too much work, too many obstacles, too many critics, and not enough help.
Paul may be on to something. Offering our lives to God, fixing our attention on God, has a wonderful way of releasing all of the pent up frustration we experience when things don't go our way. I'm going to give it a try - again, and let go of my struggle to control things I cannot control, and instead offer my life to God, trusting that God's will can and will be accomplished. I can feel a smile returning to my face.
See you in Church.
"Not all of us can do great things.
But we can do small things with great love."
- Mother Teresa
While many of us try to get away and enjoy some down time during summer vacation, myself included, the events of the last several days keep grabbing my attention and causing me a significant amount of worry. The plight of so many children crossing our borders from Latin America, the increasing violence and cycle of retaliation in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and now the civil war in Ukraine spilling over the borders to take down a commercial airliner killing nearly 300 people. Our world seems out of control and I feel powerless to do anything to effect positive change.
Mother Theresa's wisdom about how to respond in the face of overwhelming challenges or circumstances is timeless and so very powerful. Rather than letting the spirit numbing conditions of the Calcutta slums overwhelm her and her sisters, they focused on one small problem at a time, and they did it with great love. The number of lives transformed by this approach, their own included, is too many to count.
As followers of Jesus, we are invited to approach the world around us with all of its problems and controversies in the same way - doing small things with great love. And the opportunities to act in small ways with great love are all around us. We have a number of parishioners at St. David's who are not able to join us for worship or fellowship anymore due to ill health or mobility issues but they'd love to know what's going on at St. David's and that they're still a valued member of our community. Send a card or pick up the phone just to say, "hello, how are you doing? I've been praying for you."
There are also several families within the parish who are struggling financially, with health concerns adding an additional burden to their lives. A gift card to one of the local grocery stores or some meals that could be frozen would be a huge lift to these families and would make a world of difference in their lives.
Let me know if one of these small things done with great love is something you could do - the world around us may continue to appear out of control, but we'll know better - that bit by bit God's creation is being restored one small step at a time.
See you in Church.