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Stewardship as Strength

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					17 November 2006

St. John’s Stewardship Messages for 2006
1. For the Weekly Service Pamphlets January The Renewal of Stewardship ―Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.‖ (1 Peter 4:10) The dead of winter signals new birth in many realms. Jesus’ birth renews the life of the spirit and anticipates the promises remembered annually through the Christian cycle. The winter solstice portends a lengthening day and the spring to come. Calendar pages turn with the hope of a new year and a resolution or two. Have we included a renewed commitment to stewardship in time, talent, or treasure as we face these fresh beginnings? — The Stewardship Committee February Stewardship for God’s People ―Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.‖ (Ecclesiastes 11:1) The image of soggy bread settling slowly to the bottom has never been very appealing, much less instructive. But if we consider that waters can move and distribute their lifegiving bounty over a wide area, often finding their way into unseen cracks and crevices, then perhaps this image from a parched land makes more sense. We may not know all those that our ministries at St. John’s reach, but by giving, we can touch lives in ways that bring God’s word and work to us all. Stewardship supports ministry to all of God’s people. — The Stewardship Committee March Affirming Stewardship ―Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.‖ (2 Cor 9:16)

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Lent is a time for reflection and preparation, and we often start out Lent with a ―no,‖ as in: I will eat no candy, go to no movies, take no seconds, and the like. What would happen if we went through Lent with a ―yes‖ instead? As in: I will take notice of God’s blessings around me. I will work to support and help others. I will give more rather than take less. ―No‖ is minimalist, sparing, risk-free. ―Yes‖ is affirming, expansive, sometimes scary, inevitably worthwhile. — The Stewardship Committee April Stewardship Starts With Awareness ―A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.‖ (Proverbs 11:25) Generosity is a recurring Biblical theme, referring not only to opening one’s pocket book, but opening one’s heart and spirit to others as well. It is a natural consequence of awareness, awareness of other people and their needs, of recognizing that their circumstances are as important in God’s eyes as our own. When we are aware of others in this way, we are open to God’s presence in the world and less focused on ourselves. Good stewardship follows through on that awareness. — The Stewardship Committee May Coming Together for Stewardship “For righteousness and peace will show their faces to those who feed the hungry in their need … Divine, divine, divine it is when all combine!” (from Hymn 145) Casey Stengel, legendary baseball player and coach, is credited with saying, ―Gettin' good players is easy. Gettin' 'em to play together is the hard part.‖ In God’s eyes, we are all good players, and we were each given the unique talents that make us so. In a fractious and competitive world, our challenge is to gather our combined talents to carry out much more of God’s work together than any of us could do alone. — The Stewardship Committee June

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Stewardship for the Long Term “What we gave, we have; What we spent, we had; What we kept, we lost” ―You can’t take it with you‖ has many antecedents, including this pointed reminder of our mortality, an epitaph carved on the Earl of Devon’s tomb in 1419. It rings true across six centuries – God’s work continues after we are gone. As we are beneficiaries of the work and generosity of those who have gone before, we can likewise be the benefactors of those who follow. Is long term giving in your plan? — The Stewardship Committee July Stewardship from Grace ―We are your stewards, O God. Guide us in your grace‖ (The Prayers of the People) The self-made man or woman has long been an American icon. The flush of achievement, however, often makes us forget that what we have comes ultimately through God’s grace, not from any uniquely added worth we might presume to have. Stewardship is a recognition that the talents and bounty with which we have been blessed can be turned to the benefit of others. Stewardship is a return on God’s grace. — The Stewardship Committee August Stewardship in Community ―The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea.‖ (Acts 11:30) In the Biblical passage, it was a famine in Judea. In our time, it could be anywhere, but on this anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, our thoughts turn inevitably to the ministry of our parishioners to those of our devastated partner, St. Luke’s Church in New Orleans. Some have provided needed funds; others, precious gifts of time and effort to help restore the life of our sister parish, each according to his or her abilities. That’s what stewardship and community mean.

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— The Stewardship Committee September Stewardship with What We Have “But Jesus said to them, „You give them something to eat.‟” (Mark 6:35) In the well known narrative of the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus challenges his disciples to feed the great crowd, even though they have with them only five loaves and two fishes. He was teaching his disciples to be good stewards, and that faithful stewardship does not depend on plenty. It starts with faith and acts in the present, on giving now with what we have now, and does not depend on what we hope to have later. — The Stewardship Committee October Hands-on Stewardship ―The Lord cares for the stranger, he sustains the orphan and widow.‖ (Ps 146.8) Almost five hundred years ago, St. Teresa of Avila said, ―Here on Earth, Christ has no hands but ours.‖ The Bible is a rich history of how God has acted through people to change the world we live in. Its stories are about turning the hearts of God’s people to good purpose and prompting us to act differently than we otherwise might have. As stewards, we are God’s hands to care for and sustain others. — The Stewardship Committee November Capitalizing on our Stewardship ―One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.‖ (Ps 145:4) Yes, this verse from the Psalms is taken out of context. But what if it were not? Could not we, who are the current stewards of St. John’s and its ministries, likewise do mighty acts that could inspire and encourage the generations who follow? We are the stewards of both our annual budgets and our capital improvements. We are forging our legacy now. This is truly Our Time and Our Turn.

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— The Stewardship Committee December The Reach of Stewardship ―Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do it‖ (Proverbs 3:27) Giving is a theme with a long history for people of faith. When there were no state-run social services, individual communities had to care for their own. Tithing provided a guideline and the means to support those in need. In today’s urban world, proportional giving still helps support those who would otherwise fall through the cracks. As faithful stewards, we are called not only to reach out, but also to reach deep … into our own pockets. — The Stewardship Committee

***************** 2. For the Monthly “WORD” Letter May The faith and generosity of our parishioners has led St. John’s to a new level of giving … and receiving. As of the end of April, St. John’s had received pledges for $902,155 from 395 individuals and families for 2006. This dollar figure is an all time high for our church. While these figures are truly significant, equally important is the number and composition of our pledgers. A total of 145 individuals were able to increase their pledges over what they gave last year. Another 77 of our donors pledged for the first time. Together, you have reflected a commitment to the maintenance and growth of our many ministries unparalleled in the history of St. John’s. And this support has been given at a time when most other churches in the DC metropolitan area have been experiencing flat or declining figures. All of you should know how exceptional and unprecedented your combined efforts have been and what promise your support has for the current and future health of our church. Your Clergy, your Vestry, and I thank you deeply. We will do our best to live up to the confidence you have placed in us. Thanks be to God!

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September – October From the Stewardship Insert to the Capital Campaign Brochure:

ANNUAL GIVING
STEWARDSHIP 2007 – OUR RETURN ON GOD’S GRACE
“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” (1 Peter 4:10) Christian stewards, empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves to conscious, purposeful decisions. We at St. John’s are doing that. As we now look ahead to a year full of promise, we can also look back to thank God for the blessings we have received over the past year for ourselves, our families and friends, and St. John’s. We can reflect on the extent of God’s grace, forgiveness, and love for us all. And in receiving, so are we moved to give, for that is the heart of stewardship – our return on God’s grace to us. Our congregation is starting a significant undertaking on major capital projects, alterations, and improvements that cannot be met through the normal annual budget. In the meantime, the annual operating costs of the parish must continue to be met, and that is the focus of this stewardship drive being conducted in parallel with the capital campaign. One of the most important ways of realizing this annual support is through a pledge, as significant for us individually as it is for St. John’s. It is important for us as a spiritual decision, reflecting a central part of our spiritual life and growth, a glad offering of a portion of our wealth to do God’s work. It is essential for St. John’s in allowing the Vestry to plan for a wise and careful budget to support our many parish ministries within our own community and farther afield. We ask that you give prayerful consideration to supporting St. John’s through a pledge, so that through you and because of you, St. John’s can continue to reach out to do God’s work and fulfill God’s mission for us all.

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