Rooted in Abundance: Stewardship 2024
Letter from the Rector
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:8
The most important words to say in Church are “thank you.” Say it often, and mean it, and today I say it to you. Thank you for the many gifts that you share with our community. I have spent time over the last several months talking about all that we do, and this is something we should celebrate.
You have heard the familiar expression “can’t see the forest for the trees” before. We most often use it to describe that occasion in which we lose sight of the big picture while focusing on the details. From my position, I often experience the blessing of being able to see the big picture of our congregation – the ministry we bring to our neighbors, the impact we have on our community, the ways that week after week we come together to celebrate our faith and praise God. This is the forest.
And I get to wander amongst the trees. From the small shoot reaching out from its seed and finding the sunlight, to the mightiest tree, standing tall, showing strength, offering sheltering love to those who need it. You are those trees, each drawing strength from our meal and showering the world with the love and grace you have come to know here. I am blessed in that here in our congregation, I can see both the forest and the trees!
When I walk through a forest, I am aware of the tangle of roots, how one tree is connected to another. Trees use these networks, secretly talking to each other through their roots, passing information along. Adult trees share their sugars with young saplings, a dying tree can send its remaining resources back out to help the community. These networks, these roots of abundance, keep trees in place just as much as they free them to grow and share.
The theme of our annual pledge campaign this year is Rooted in Abundance, and we are reminded that we are a mighty forest comprised of ancient trunks and sprightly saplings, each of us contributing our gifts to a world that needs us. As you hear the messages and stories of abundance this year, take note of how generosity spreads and widens our root structures of faith and action.
We are doing stewardship differently this year. We are waiting as we finish out 2023 and moving into Advent in a couple of weeks. I am asking that during Advent you take time to pray about how you share your gifts, your talents from this week’s gospel, with your St. Paul’s family. We will then ask you to bring your gifts to the baby Jesus on Epiphany in January as we start our new year. We do not need to be anxious as we have each other to support us. However, we have much to do as we move forward in growing our forest with our abundance.
The Rev. Mark Wilkinson, Rector
Letter from the Senior Warden
I am so pleased this year to talk about the theme of our annual stewardship campaign, Rooted in Abundance. I am particularly excited about it because it describes the graceful state of our St Paul’s community, and how we share our gifts so lovingly with each other.
Our giving tradition at St Paul’s has always been focused on how we share ALL of our gifts – not just our financial gifts. Our vibrant church needs new ideas, creative people to lead, individuals who know how to solve complex problems, and volunteers to keep our ministries focused on our neighbors. We usually talk about this in a three-fold way: wealth, works, and wisdom. If any one of these areas is missing from our community, then we are diminished.
Each of us has a gift, and some of have many. For some it is cooking and baking, others might have beautiful singing voices, we praise those who have an administrative gift of balancing books or counting the collection, we admire those who offer hospitality, who serve at the altar, who pray with us, and who help us find a seat as the service begins. Whatever your ministries are, we couldn’t be who we are without you.
In Father Mark’s recent letter to us, Father Mark talked about how trees are connected via their root structures, and how they share information and resources with each other through those underground networks. In this year of being in leadership ministry with you, I have witnessed the ways in which you communicate with each other to get things done. Fifth Sunday and Holiday Potlucks, community events, and Outreach activities. It all happens so wonderfully because you are each deeply connected to each other through your roots of faith and service.
I thank you for the ways you have shared your gifts with us – your wealth, your works, and your wisdom. In the coming days you will be receiving more information about this year’s campaign and an invitation to let us know what gifts you would like to share with us for next year’s ministries. Thank you for your generosity, from this past year and in the future year to come.
Harlan Matthews, Sr. Warden
Letter from the Campaign Chair
As our annual stewardship campaign gets underway, you have been hearing about the theme, Rooted in Abundance, and its reminder to us that we are inspired to give because so much has been given to us. This is not transactional – we do not give in proportion to how we feel we have benefitted or suffered – rather we give because of the love we have experienced in the story of our faith. We have explored trees, roots, flowers all as metaphors for the way we dig deep into what nourishes us to transform that goodness into work, service, and joy in a world that needs us.
I am grateful that Rev. Mark and the Vestry have called me to lead this annual process of telling the story of our abundance and our gratitude. I love the stories that tell about what connects you to St. Paul’s and how your family flourishes where it has been planted. Every gift matters this year, and each gift will be accepted, brought to the altar, and blessed before God and our community.
As you fill out your pledge cards, you’ll notice that this reflects your financial promise for 2024.Our work as a faith community is about unlocking creativity to grow our mission, collaborating with other people, institutions, and churches to serve more of our neighbors, and how we form generous, grateful hearts through our education programs. Our works bring us opportunities to roll up our sleeves, to volunteer for service, to pitch in to help make things better.
This year, as you pray about your commitment to our church, please tap into that nourishing structure of faith and generosity shown to us by an extravagant God, a patient Shepherd, and a gathering Spirit who call us to extend our networks and share our gifts with the world. When you are rooted in abundance, you realize that your giving can be as boundless as the Creation that gave birth to us all. Thank you for your generosity and your prayerful consideration of your pledge to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Barbara Cloud, Stewardship Chair
P.S. The last Sunday of our campaign is Epiphany which we will celebrate January 7, 2024. Please send or submit your gifts by that date so that we may gather them together and bless them.
Support from the members and friends of St. Paul’s Episcopal are the primary means by which the operation and work of the church is funded.
If you would like to submit your pledge electronically, please click here to email the office. Please include name/contact information and total annual pledge amount. Your pledge will help St. Paul’s plan responsibly for the upcoming year. Financial information is kept strictly confidential.
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