Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In John 14 Jesus tells his disciples that the Father’s House has many dwelling places and that he goes to prepare one for them. You are perhaps familiar with this statement in the context of funeral services, but I think it is misunderstood when only seen as a statement about ‘heavenly’ or eternal things. When I read those words in the context of Jesus’ earthly ministry, I hear him say that God’s house – right here and now – has a place for everybody. As we sing in the hymn:
Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.
If that is how we understand Jesus’ words then the question which begs answering is to what extent we, at St. Anne’s, are making that a reality. It is with this in mind that I am writing these lines to you about this year’s Stewardship month.
What is Stewardship, you might ask? Well, simply put it is managing and developing the resources of the local church in order to enable it to get on with God’s work in this particular time and place. Often, this is done as an annual event, in which the current and proposed activities of the local church are being presented, reviewed and debated. When agreement has been reached a draft budget for the next calendar year is drawn up and the local Christian community is asked to consider how each member can support those activities in the coming year.
We do this at our APCM in April each year, but this October we would like to focus specifically on how we, as individuals, can financially support what St Anne’s is already doing. This will provide a solid foundation to build from when we embark on a vision discernment process next year.
I hope that this small booklet will be a resource for you and your family to consider how you can be an active part of our church community. This active participation is not just a phrase I am using, but a genuine and heartfelt wish of mine.
I firmly believe that it is our common and shared task to listen and discern God’s plans for our community at St Anne’s. In the same way in which God is community in God’s inner self (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) so I believe that the essence of our church family here is one of community, rather than hierarchy or privilege.
But this sense of community only thrives through active participation in the discerning, resourcing and evaluating of our activities. It is a participation that does not shy away from rejoicing in the small or great blessings that are given to us, laughing about ourselves when we have made a fool of ourselves or gotten it wrong yet again, and crying with our friends through the tragedies life sometimes throws at us.
Please could I encourage you to read the following pages in that way. We have put them together in the hope that they will help you evaluate your current financial participation in the life of St Anne’s and hopefully encourage you to consider how you can continue to actively contribute to the life of our church family this coming year.
Yours in Christ,