“I know there shouldn’t be so many guns in the neighborhood, but I “get” it; I understand why people have guns. People need to protect themselves in this community.”
“Everyday we are treated like criminals when we go to schools. We have to go through metal detectors, take off our shoes and belts and be wanded. I never get into trouble; I have always been an honor student. I don’t deserve this treatment but I understand why they treat us this way. I understand but don’t agree with it.
These quotes came from 10th grade African American males as they and three adult advisors (I being one of the three) were debriefing a recent neighborhood forum organized by the youth leadership council of The Advocate Center for Culture and Education. We were debriefing one completed series of community stakeholder neighborhood forums and we were beginning to shape the next forum series.
"Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" (Matthew 9: 37)
Jesus asked his disciples to join him in praying for more help to reach out to the crowds of people seeking God's good news and healing. I wonder if the disciples' next prayer time was filled with asking God for workers. Because, boom, those prayers were answered in the next chapter. Jesus called his disciples together to let them know, "Hey, I found the workers! They are YOU."
He gave them the authority to do some pretty amazing things. Then he sent them out to do them.
“Doesn’t having a capital campaign negatively impact annual stewardship?” This question is one of the most frequently asked by churches anticipating a capital drive.
And “No!” is the most frequently given answer when ECF Capital Campaign consultants respond! In fact, we have found that annual stewardship usually goes up in tandem with capital fundraising.
“That is certainly our experience at Church of the Advent,” reports Nancy Junk, Senior Warden of this small southeast Florida congregation. “Our annual operating fund is up more than 7% since we launched our building campaign in August of 2015,” she notes.
The church bulletin is arguably one of the most important documents in our congregations. Given our bibles, hymnals and Book of Common Prayer (BCP) that may sound a bit heretical. However the amount of resources that goes into producing it does give our church bulletins very high priority. The original purpose of the bulletin was to provide the order of service including references to the BCP, hymns and readings of the day. We have evolved much beyond the basics.
Bulletin content is the largest issue for us to wrestle with. Bulletins may contain some of all of the following: fundraising and social activities, meetings of church and community organizations, lists of illnesses, birthdays, anniversaries and deaths, special donations, community, diocesan and national announcements, stewardship messages as well as information on a particular saint day, others have information on voting, job posts and apartment rental. So our bulletins, have become newspapers, newsletters and journals all rolled into one. Whew!
The most recent issue of the Diocese of Texas’ Dialog magazine is focused on faith, culture, and the ways that we live our faith in the midst of our daily lives. This got me thinking about some of the places I’ve seen folks serving Christ in the day-to-day.
There’s Dr. Beverly Vick, an angel on earth who is a first grade teacher in Alexandria, Va. For my oldest son, and countless other children for whom school can be challenging, Dr. Vick makes learning come alive. For my son’s birthday that year, he invited Dr. Vick to dinner, and I was amazed at the stories she shared of a life dedicated to teaching. And underpinning it all is her deep faith and love of Jesus.
One of the positive features of a capital campaign that seeks extraordinary giving participation is that once the asking phase starts, it's over relatively quickly. The campaign leadership committee is engaged for about 4 months. Other Volunteers are active with specific responsibilities for relatively short periods of time. It's a project, not a lifetime commitment.
Now think about the stewardship activity of your parish. Many of us may consider that to be more of a drudgery assignment. Year after year. Over and over. While a capital campaign rolls around every 5 to 10 years and generally boasts big, compelling needs, annual giving is sometimes viewed as just the same old message about the same old budget.
On the 2nd day of Ramadan 2017 our senior warden Evelyn and I attended the annual fundraising dinner of the American Muslims for Hunger Relief (AMFHR). We did this at the invitation of Ghani Khan, the Executive Director. The Church of the Advocate and AMFHR have shaped a partnership that fruited in Halal meals being offered monthly at our Advocate Cafe. How wonderful it was that evening of the fundraiser to be immersed in a cultural event outside of the Eurocentric, Christocentric framework, one that propelled me and Evelyn into a sea of colors, textures, tastes, hues and sounds that declared another way of being that nourished and enlightened and spoke to a powerful encounter with the sacred.
What AMFHR does for the Advocate community is less about the Halal meat made available to our patrons. What AMFHR does is remind us that the work before us as Christians is sometimes best done in relationships that cross boundaries to find places of common mission. Our relationship with AMFHR is not predicated upon removal and substitution, we have not substituted any Islamic beliefs or practice for our own, but rather is situated upon a common interest to meet a basic human need; i.e. the need for food. The shock is not in the partnership but in the need.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:4
On Sunday June 4, Christians around the globe will be celebrating Pentecost, the day in which the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles as “divided tongues, as of fire” enabling them to preach the Good News in many languages. Pentecost is oftentimes called the “Birthday of the Church” because Peter preaches his first sermon shortly afterward, urging the people to believe in Jesus Christ the Messiah and some 3,000 people were converted as a result.