The Piper - October 2014

In This Issue...
 Ramblings in the Redwoods
 C.I.A. Youth Group News
 Faithful Giving
 Around and About
 The Back Page... Called

Ramblings in the Redwoods
Father Blaine Hammond

Yikes, he’s writing about money! Did you know that Jesus spoke more about money than any other subject? Maybe it made his listeners uncomfortable, but it also went straight to the heart of things they were concerned about and knew about, both the difficulties and the rewards of gaining money and giving money.

At the Diocesan Convention last fall, a resolution was passed (Resolution B) titled “Stewardship Commitment.” Our delegation voted for it, as did nearly everyone else. The Resolved read “That this 33rd Convention of the Diocese of El Camino Real adopts the following Statement of Stewardship and asks that individual parishes and missions likewise adopt it at their annual meetings or by their vestries or bishop’s committees.” The statement fol-lowed, along with an explanation, and with an Appendix containing the Report of the Com-mission on Stewardship with a Proposed Implementation Plan.

Our Vestry looked it over, made comments and suggestions, and several of us agreed to rewrite the Statement according to those comments and suggestions. As it turned out, I and Jennifer Kennedy ended up being the rewrite team. We took the results to the Vestry who passed it and authorized us to send it to the Stewardship Commission. I have just re-cently sent it to the Chair of that Commission, the Rev. Channing Smith, of St. Andrew’s in Saratoga. And I am attaching it at the end of this Ramblings.

Proportional Giving
One of our critiques of the original Resolution was that it confined its discussion of stewardship, for the most part, to monetary giving to our congregation. I like to take a broader perspective on stewardship, but it is useful to consider the perspective of monetary giving.

One of the things the original Resolution discusses is Proportional Giving. That phrase simply refers to thinking of our giving as a proportion, or a percentage, of our in-come. The Hebrew Bible – the Old Testament – sets the tithe as a standard for certain kinds of offerings, and this is affirmed by Jesus in the New Testament. A tithe is 10%, of course, but the question gets asked, 10% of what? Gross income or net income? Can we subtract expenses? Can we subtract living expenses? And is 10% an absolute ceiling, with us giving whatever percent up to that which seems to match what we feel like we can part with? Or is it a floor, a minimum standard? I’m not going to try to answer these questions here for you, but they are good questions for your consideration.

A more fundamental question is, why should we even think about this? Some people would answer “Because our congregation needs our financial participation if we are to continue to survive and offer the programs and ministry we want,” and that is an honest and useful answer. I believe there is a deeper answer, one I have presented before: because giving is a core part of our relationship with God, and giving to the Church is a key part of the connection between giving and God.

Let me interject here that I am not asking people to do something I am not willing to do. Last year I gave more than $5,000 to St. Andrew’s, and gave more to other charities and ministries. I am on track to do the same this year. This does not factor in what Elizabeth chooses to give.

When we first re-entered the Christian faith after some years on the outside, Elizabeth and I wanted to work towards the tithe because it was a biblical standard. At the time our wages seemed to barely stretch enough to cover our bills, but we started giving any-way, and at the same time we started praying earnestly about our bills and our debts. Things began to turn around for us, and eventually we were able to make that tithe commitment, and write that check before any other. And we were tithing on our gross income. We have not always been able to do that in the years since, but it is our norm.
Another thing to recognize is that the members of your Vestry have all filled out pledge cards. I don’t know what is on them, but all Vestry members have filled one out. We are serious and sincere about the ministry and spiritual practice of giving. That is why we chose to respond to the Diocese’s request to pass a congregational resolution regarding stewardship.

We all have to decide what we are able to do. Some of us do not have the financial ability to tithe, or perhaps to give any money at all. Others of us do. Some of us have no time to offer much volunteer help; others of us do. Most of us have gifts and talents that are useful to our church. This is what real stewardship refers to – giving is a reflection of all of our gifted-ness from God, and it is a recognition that the gifts are God’s from the beginning. We do not give our things to God; we give what God has first given us to help us recognize that it has been God’s all along.

The upside of giving is what it does to our own spiritual lives. It helps us to gain a positive relationship between ourselves and God’s gifts. It builds our generosity and decreases our attachment to material wealth. It helps us to recognize the ways in which God has blessed us, and helps us to grow in gratitude. And it helps us to gain faith, confidence and trust in God’s care and in God’s response to our generosity.

Top

_______________________________________________

Why I Am An Episcopalian: Reason #29
The signs that say, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” mean it. Nick Humez, Diocese of Newark from 101 Reasons to be Episcopalian

Response of St. Andrew’s to Resolution B of the Diocesan Convention of 2013

If you want to see the original Resolution B from Convention I will gladly get you a copy.

After a period of discussion in Vestry, it was decided to rewrite the Resolved, the Statement of Stewardship Commitment, and the Appendix to address what we felt to be important differences in the way we perceive the call to Stewardship, the understanding of Stewardship and the way in which it should be lived out. An explanation of this approach and these changes will follow.

Resolved, That the Parish of St. Andrew’s in Ben Lomond adopts the following statement of Stewardship.

Statement of Stewardship Commitment: Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit as revealed in Scripture and the teachings of The Episcopal Church, we embrace the concept of Christian Stewardship as being holy ministry to which all members of the Episcopal Church are called. As faith communities operating within the Diocese of El Camino Real, we understand that the ministries provided by our congregations rely on the support of all members, and of all others associated with our community, and we affirm that that support is a manifestation of God’s blessings on us. As responsible and practicing Christians and Episcopalians, we accept our call to live out the ministry of stewardship joyfully and thankfully and support the Commission on Stewardship in its effort to enhance and expand this minis-try in every parish and mission within the diocese.

Explanation: St. Andrew’s has been working to leave behind the idea that stewardship is simply the act of giving money to the congregation. A steward, as the word has come down to us from the Bible, was a person who was charged with managing property and money which belonged to someone else. As long as the steward followed the will of the owner, the steward had full control of those resources. However, to manage the resources as if they belonged to the steward, or contrary to the owner’s will, was to forfeit all right to act as a steward.

The first statement of responsible biblical stewardship, then, is that stewardship is the act of carrying out the will of God for all things that come under our control, together with the acknowledgement that none of them belong to us – not our money, not our “possessions,” not our time, not the members of our families, nor even our lives. Stewardship is, therefore, a principle of living and relationship to God which covers all facets of our existence. To limit the notion of stewardship to giving money to the church is to confuse its meaning and its relationship to our Christian lives.

We do, however, believe that God’s will is expressed by giving within one’s congregation. At the same time, we recognize that people have different capacities to give, and different ways in which giving is possible. In today’s world, some people have very little disposable time, while others have little to no disposable income. All of us have gifts and talents of some sort. We believe that much is required from those to whom much has been given; we also believe that we should not ask people to choose between adequate food and medicine and making a financial commitment to their church. The portion of stewardship, therefore, that relates to giving to one’s congregation, we hold to involve time, treasure, and/or talent, as one is able to give. We do not believe that an inability to participate financially should keep impoverished people from full participation in the life of the congregation; therefore we do not distinguish between pledges made of financial support and pledges made of time and talent.

We have made some changes in the Statement of Stewardship Commitment as passed at Convention in order to reflect these beliefs, and in one case to remove a redundancy – that is, the reference to “baptized” members of the Episcopal Church, since nobody can be a member without being baptized. Our experience also tells us that we rely on the support of members of our community who are neither baptized nor Episcopalians.

We do accept that as Episcopalians we are also participating members of a larger community, the Diocese of El Camino Real, and that we wish to support our Diocese, its Bishop, its officials, its Commissions and Committees, and all other people who take on the task of seeking and carrying out the will of God for our people; so despite differences in language and perception, we do joyfully and thankfully accept our responsibility to support the ministry of Stewardship and the Commission on Stewardship as it works to maintain and increase the health of the Diocese we all support and love.
Questions about the Appendix: the Report of the Commission on Stewardship: As we read through the Appendix, we found some things which we did not adequately understand. We mention those here hoping that some further explanation will be made available.

1. Under the Guiding Principles for the implementation plan: “Committee will work with parishes on implementation of one of the models available.” We would appreciate knowing what models are avail-able.

2. Also under the Guiding Principles, a “formal report including results” twice a year to the Board of Trustees is mentioned. It is unclear whether the congregations are to be a part of that reporting, and if so, what is asked of us.

3. We note on page 2 of the Appendix that stewardship continues to be linked with the word “financial” as if they were synonymous. In that context, a written promise is asked from the vestry and rector to adopt the principles of year-round stewardship and proportional giving. It cannot be assumed that all Vestry members are able to be major contributors in a sense of proportional giving. We have, and have had, Vestry members who are retired on fixed incomes, who are living on SSI, or who are living on unemployment insurance. All, however, have made a pledge to give of time, talent or treasure. The question is whether all members are to be held to a financial standard without regard to other stewardship factors.

4. We are unsettled by the idea that congregations will be measured by growth in “pledging units” and “average and median pledge,” which, without references to any other variables, would cause us to concentrate solely on numbers and dollars. We are reminded of the consternation throughout the education system when standardized testing became the measure of whether a school was succeeding. It is unclear what will happen to congregations based on the results of this “measuring process.”

We are grateful for the time you have taken and the effort you have expended in developing this plan and look forward to our opportunity to continue to work together with you, and we further thank you for the opportunity to provide this response, and your attention to our questions and concerns.

Top

_________________________________________________

Children and Youth Group News

Sunday School: Sunday School is every week for ages 4-18 during the 10am service. Children (grades pre-K through 5th) and youth (grades 6-12) are to meet in the Parish Hall at 10am. They will re-join their families during announcements for communion.

Teachers: If you are interested in joining our team, just talk with Teresa Ruff and she can add you to the schedule. Our teachers do just one Sunday a month.

We have child care! A huge thank-you to Amelia (one of the St. Andrew's Preschool teachers) who will be providing child care to children under 5 during the 10am service.

C.I.A. Youth Group: Wednesday night meetings have been postponed until further notice. With school starting and schedules changing, we thought it would be best to let the dust settle first. Mid-week meetings will start again once the group has a better handle on their schedules. We will meet on Sundays at 10am.

C.I.A. Youth Group Hosts All-Church Breakfast: First Sunday of the month. Youth will meet at 8:30am to set-up and start cooking. Breakfast will be served between 9:15am-10am. Donations accepted.

Annual Mini-Olympics - Results:
Carling & Jacquerot - Overall Winners! Ten youth competed in two categories: High School and Younger Youth. The winning team in the High School category consisted of Robbie Carling and Duquan Ruff. The Younger Youth category included Victor Davidson, Tessa Jacquerot, and Sabrina ValldeRuten. Robbie Carling was the overall winner for the High School players; Tessa Jacquerot was the overall winner for the Younger Youth players. This event is hosted every year in August by Jerry and Sharon Fishel.

Don’t Miss the Treasure Hunt!
October 26th at Boomeria
Snacks provided.
RSVP to Sharon to reserve a seat on the bus!

Top

_________________________________________________

Harvest Dinner To Kick Off 2015 Giving Campaign

Over the next two months, we will journey together in exploring how the practice of intentional giving deepens our walk with the Lord, and supports life-giving ministries to our community and beyond. Your generosity generates mission and changes lives. There is so much we can do together!

Beginning today, October 5th, and continuing through Sun-day, November 23rd , you will find in your worship bulletin, reflections from either our own parishioners, or those of stewardship leaders across the country, covering stewardship and faithful giving in connection with the Gospel reading of the day. Please pray and reflect on these readings as you contemplate your giving for 2015. A letter will be sent to you after the Harvest Dinner which will include your pledge card. We trust that you will be able to return your pledge as part of our Thanksgiving Harvest in November.

Your Stewardship Committee’s main goal this coming year is to grow our church, and increase our pledges so that we can increase our programs and our outreach. We cannot do this without your support. We also wish to dispel the myth that somehow the withholding of our pledges reduces the amount we must pay for our Fair Share to the Diocese. It does not do so. Our Fair Share to the Diocese is based on a percentage of our total income for the year. This amount from each parish helps to support our Diocesan Center which in turn sup-ports our Mission Churches, our Seminary (CDSP), Santa Maria Urban Mission (San Jose), York School, Educational/Training Workshops & Programs for Parish Ministry, the Nat’l. Church’s Relief & Development Program, etc…….. Although we receive gifts & have fundraisers from time to time, the majority of our funding is through pledges. These can be designated yearly, monthly, or weekly. We are sure you will be pleased with the results.

Join us at the Harvest Dinner for more info, food, and fellowship.

In Gratitude,
Your Stewardship Committee,
Jennifer, Karen , Kim, & Rochelle

Top

_______________________________________________

Around and About

Around the Parish ~ Let us pray. If you're a person who feels called to pray, please join us in the upstairs of the Parish Hall on the first Sunday in October, November, and December at 9:30 to pray for the church. And/or join our regular prayer chain to pray for those who have requested prayer for themselves or others. -- Paula Jansen 336-5669 or pauladalejan-sen@gmail.com.

The Pilgrimage of the Heart continues! Join us on Tuesday evenings, 6:30-7:30, in the Parish Hall for the Bible Challenge, a reading of the Bible in a year. Contact Elizabeth Forbes for a list of the readings, 338.3312 or elizabethdhf@gmail.com.

Around the Town ~ Halloween is coming soon! The outside of the church will be decorated and we'll be in costume to hand out candy to the Trick or Treaters. Please donate candy if you're able or join us to hand it out. In past years we've gotten upwards of 300 kids coming by with their friends and families - many ask to step inside the church and then ooh and aaah over how beautiful it is. Some remember being married there. It's a very fun evening. Hope you're able to join us!

A-caroling we go! I have an idea about getting a bunch of us together to go caroling on Riverside Ave. in December. Does that sound fun to you? We could finish up by stopping at the church for hot drinks if everyone wanted to. What do you think? Let me know, Paula Jansen 336-5669 or pauladalejansen@gmail.com.

Around the Diocese ~ The body of Christ, the bread of heaven. There will be a training on Saturday, January 13th, for Eucharistic Visitors (taking communion to folks who can’t get out to church) given by the diocese. If your heart is warmed or you have the thought that you could do this, consider that it may well be the Spirit calling and come on along. Some of us from St. Andrew’s and St. Philip’s will be going.

Top

_________________________________________________

You Are Cordially Invited to Attend the Annual Harvest Dinner

Saturday, October 25th, 6-8 pm

We are pleased to have the Rev. Mary Lou McKenney as our guest speaker.

Includes: A complimentary, sit-down dinner served to all parishioners to thank everyone for supporting the ministries of St. Andrew’s this year.

A list of those ministries will be on display, as well as a list of ministries in our diocese that we support with our annual Fair Share. It is amazing how much we can accomplish with all our hands joined together.

Please join with your parish family and friends in this complimentary dinner.

Please R.S.V.P. on the church sign-up list or by contacting Jennifer Kennedy.

Top

________________________________________________

The Applause Light is Lit

Let us give a big thank you to all those who worked so hard to help get us ready for the Bishop’s visitation. Big thanks to Tillie and her gardeners; to Jerry; to Randi and the other Altar Guild members; to the Vestry; to Sharon; to Tanya and the choir; to the youth who made the brunch we ate; to Ali Maxson, who donated her time for child care; and to all those whose names I have missed here, to whom I apologize. I especially thank the congregation for being willing to join me in prayer for the Bishop during the service and to add to her Bishop’s Discretionary Fund.

Top

________________________________________________

Rick Garay (October 2)
Jonathan Smith (October 4)
Jean Templeman (October 18)
Cathe Lieb (October 22)
Mitsuno Bauermeister (October 25)
Steven Ruff (October 29)
Blaine Hammond (October 30)
Stephen Mello (October 31)
Pat Whitby-Strevens (November 2)
Ben Rooks (November 11)
Randi Alves (November 15)
Chris Nelson (November 23)

Top

________________________________________________

The Back Page...

cALLed - Elizabeth Forbes

Following Jesus today has much in common with the original disciples’ experience. We are welcomed as disciples by grace, we learn along with fellow learners, we seek to imitate Christ’s example, and commune with him around a table. But they could see Jesus; we cannot. This gives us the advantage of focusing not on Jesus “over there”, but on the Spirit of Christ “right here, in here, with-in.”

"Life in the Spirit involves death, burial, and resurrection. It begins with a letting go of what has been so far. It continues with an admission of powerlessness: a surrender to silence, stillness, emptiness and rest — a letting be. Next we join Jesus in the dynamic, surprising uprising of resurrection. Letting go and letting be make us receptive to infilling and activation, to a letting come of the Holy Spirit." - from We Make the Road By Walking, by B. McLaren

These words inspire me by reminding me of my own experiences of turning away from something old in me, of surrender to the resulting restful emptiness, and the Holy Spirit then filling me with joy, with a direction or a purpose. In this, I have heard God calling me. Sometimes the call is to a state of being, like joy, peace, a sense of being loved. Or it might be a new understanding of a situation in my life, in my community or the world. This can lead to a call to a particular activity or action. I was called to be a stay at home mom, to finish school, to sort out my brokenness in therapy, to live in recovery, to work with persons with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems. And to retire!

What does the Spirit call you to? If you’re not sure, start by reviewing the Baptismal Covenant. That is the call of all Christians. It’s generic; it can be lived out in many ways. The Spirit will continue to speak, to call you to a specific living out of that Covenant when you let go.., let be, and let it come. Is it to an ordination? Remember, “two deacons in every church.” Or is it to a Licensed Lay Ministry? Ask me if you’ve forgotten what those are. Or is it to the exercise of particular gifts, talents, or skills you were given? We’d love to hear about your call in the My Story column. Talk to me. We can help you write it up if that’s an issue. Don’t be shy. Maybe it’s as simple as hearing God’s reminder to take the garbage out one morning and witnessing the most beautiful bird song as you stood there at the bin. Or maybe it’s a life time call to a certain work. Listening is what it’s about. Telling your story encourages others to listen to the Spirit in their own lives, and to recognize and activate the gifts of God. The gifts of God are not for us as individuals. They are given to be shared.

God’s love is about the whole community - our families, our church, our town…our world. We are the managers - not the owners - of all that God has given us. How are we using it? To what are we called?

Top

If you are interested in submitting an article in next month's newsletter, contact Elizabeth Forbes or Paula Jansen.