In Praise of Your Local Church

In Praise of Your Local Church

Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Matthew 18:20

As with the air we breathe and the ground beneath our feet, we sometimes take for granted the faith communities that we count on to be there for us when we need them. So in this season when the leaders of your local church ask you to consider your financial pledge to support its ministry, l invite you to consider the many ways you are blessed by your church, even if you haven’t been inside its doors for a long time.

Let’s begin with your clergy, who are quick to respond when you call, reach out when you’re hurting, are always glad to see you, and work every day to create sacred spaces in which you can draw closer to God. They do all these things because they care. Who else in your life spends hours each week preparing to speak about the most important things–such as faith, doubt, suffering, joy, courage, forgiveness, grief, and love–and encourages you to orient your life toward Jesus.

Now consider the community itself–the people who show up early to prepare a place for you, who practice the songs, tend to the altar, and clean up after you’ve gone home. Think of those who inspire you by their selflessness and who provide all manner of opportunities for you to help make this world a better place; those who are the first to knock at your door with a casserole or flowers when you’ve lost someone; who ask how you are doing, and genuinely want to know. Let’s not forget the person who drives you crazy, and yet who helps you practice patience and acceptance–the very patience and acceptance that you need, too.

If you are raising children, consider the priceless gift of doing so with other families who, like you, want their children to have, as we pray the Baptism liturgy, “inquiring and discerning hearts, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and love God, and the give of joy and wonder in all God’s works.” In church, your children are surrounded by surrogate grandparents, aunties and uncles, and really cool teenagers for your kids to look up to, until, low and behold, they are cool teenagers teaching a rising generation how to hold the candles and cross.

While caring for the building itself is a big responsibility and costs a lot of money, think of what it means to have such a place, a home away from home where people like you have gone to pray for generations. The walls of your church are soaked with prayer. If they could talk, they would tell of tears and laughter, moments of unspeakable sorrow and wondrous joy; of forgiveness sought and received; of the word spoken that changed a person’s life, of an injustice done and then, by grace, acknowledged, and restitution made–all in that sacred space.

Finally, consider all those who have never been and perhaps will never be part of your church but who nonetheless receive blessing through its ministry–those whose sobriety depends on the A.A. meeting in the basement, or who are experiencing homelessness and your church is the one place they are treated with dignity; the children who are nurtured in the daycare or receive the backpacks your church donates at the beginning of the school year; the refugee family given a home and support in a new land.

Now it may be that your church doesn’t do all of the things I’ve mentioned, or that it’s struggling to regain its footing, or is in a leadership transition. No church is perfect, and if you’re looking for reasons to be disappointed, you will probably find them. But don’t forget the ways you have experienced God through the ministry of your church, despite or perhaps through its imperfections. Think of the times you’ve felt Jesus’ mercy when you needed it, the joy of singing a favorite hymn alongside others, and the gift of belonging to a community of faith, not so much because you get everything you want there, but rather because you know that it’s your spiritual home. Your presence and your gifts make a difference, including the gifts you didn’t realize that you had. You may have a big part to play in your church’s future, and maybe what’s coming next is something you don’t want to miss.

Finances are challenging for many of these days, and that’s true for your local church, too. If this is a hard time for you, know that your church understands if you need to reduce your pledge. But if you are blessed with a financial cushion to weather rising inflation and the fluctuations of the stock market, consider being more generous in the coming year. Let your clergy know that you’re grateful for them. Help your volunteer lay leaders rest easier as they work on ministry goals and budgets. Do your part. You’ll be glad you did. And others will be blessed in ways you may never know.

En alabanza a tu iglesia local

En alabanza a tu iglesia local

Jesús dijo: “Porque donde dos o tres se reúnen en mi nombre, allí estoy yo en medio de ellos.”
Mateo 18:20

Al igual que con el aire que respiramos y el suelo bajo nuestros pies, a veces damos por sentado que las comunidades de fe con las que contamos están ahí para nosotros cuando las necesitamos. Por eso, en esta época en la que los líderes de su iglesia local le piden que considere su compromiso financiero para apoyar su ministerio, los invito a que consideren las muchas maneras en las que usted es bendecido por su iglesia, incluso si no han estado allí durante mucho tiempo.

Empecemos por el clero, que responde rápidamente cuando se le llama, le tiende la mano cuando está sufriendo, siempre se alegra de verle y trabaja cada día para crear espacios sagrados en los que pueda acercarse a Dios. Hacen todo esto porque se preocupan. ¿Quién más en su vida pasa horas cada semana preparándose para hablar de las cosas más importantes – como la fe, la duda, el sufrimiento, la alegría, el valor, el perdón, el dolor y el amor – y le anima a orientar su vida hacia Jesús?

Ahora piensa en la propia comunidad: las personas que se presentan temprano para preparar un lugar para ti, que ensayan las canciones, atienden el altar y limpian después de que te hayas ido a casa. Piensa en aquellos que te inspiran con su desinterés y que te proporcionan todo tipo de oportunidades para que ayudes a hacer de este mundo un lugar mejor; aquellos que son los primeros en llamar a tu puerta con un poco de comida o con flores cuando has perdido a alguien; que te preguntan cómo estás y quieren saberlo de verdad. No olvidemos a la persona que te vuelve loco y que, sin embargo, te ayuda a practicar la paciencia y la aceptación, la misma paciencia y aceptación que tú también necesitas.

Si estás criando a tus hijos, considera el don inestimable de hacerlo con otras familias que, como usted, quieren que sus hijos tengan, como oramos en la liturgia del Bautismo, “un corazón inquisitivo y perspicaz, la valentía de comprometerse y perseverar; la pasión por conocer y amar (a Dios), y el don de gozar y maravillarse ante todas (las) obras (de Dios)”. En la iglesia, tus hijos están rodeados de abuelos sustitutos, tías, tíos y adolescentes realmente geniales a los que tus hijos pueden admirar, hasta que, por fin, son adolescentes geniales que enseñan a una nueva generación a sostener las velas y la cruz.

Aunque el cuidado del edificio en sí es una gran responsabilidad y cuesta mucho dinero, piensa en lo que significa tener un lugar así, un hogar lejos de casa donde personas como usted han ido a orar durante generaciones. Las paredes de su iglesia están empapadas de oración. Si pudieran hablar, hablarían de lágrimas y risas, de momentos de dolor indecible y de maravillosa alegría; del perdón buscado y recibido; de la palabra pronunciada que cambió la vida de una persona, de una injusticia cometida y luego, por gracia, reconocida y restituida, todo en ese espacio sagrado.

Por último, considere a todos aquellos que nunca han formado parte de su iglesia, y tal vez nunca lo hagan, pero que, sin embargo, reciben bendiciones a través de su ministerio: aquellos cuya sobriedad depende de la reunión de A.A. (Alcohólicos Anónimos) en el sótano, o que se encuentran sin hogar y su iglesia es el único lugar en el que se les trata con dignidad; los niños que son atendidos en la guardería o que reciben las mochilas que su iglesia dona al comienzo del año escolar; la familia de refugiados que recibe un hogar y apoyo en una nueva tierra.

Puede que su iglesia no haga todo lo que he mencionado, o que esté luchando por recuperar su equilibrio, o que esté en una transición de liderazgo. Ninguna iglesia es perfecta, y si está buscando razones para sentirse decepcionado, probablemente las encontrará. Pero no olvide las formas en que ha experimentado a Dios a través del ministerio de su iglesia, a pesar de sus imperfecciones o quizás a través de ellas. Piensa en las veces que has sentido la misericordia de Jesús cuando la necesitabas, en la alegría de cantar un himno favorito junto a otros, y en el don de pertenecer a una comunidad de fe, no tanto porque allí consigues todo lo que quieres, sino porque sabes que es tu hogar espiritual. Tu presencia y tus dones marcan la diferencia, incluso los dones que no sabías que tenías. Puede que tengas un papel importante que desempeñar en el futuro de tu iglesia, y tal vez lo que viene es algo que no quieres perderte.

Las finanzas son un reto para muchos en estos días, y eso es cierto para su iglesia local, también. Si este es un momento difícil para usted, sepa que su iglesia entiende si necesita reducir su promesa. Pero si ha sido bendecido con un colchón financiero para enfrentar la creciente inflación y las fluctuaciones del mercado de valores, considere ser más generoso en el próximo año. Hágale saber a su clero que está agradecido por ellos. Ayude a sus líderes laicos voluntarios a estar más tranquilos mientras trabajan en los objetivos y presupuestos del ministerio. Haga su parte. Se alegrará de haberlo hecho. Y otros serán bendecidos en formas que tal vez nunca conozca.

Introduction to the 2022 Annual Giving Campaign Toolkit

Introduction to the 2022 Annual Giving Campaign Toolkit

“See, I am doing a new thing.”
Isaiah 43:19

If you are new to stewardship or would like to gather with others who are doing the same kind of work in congregations across the diocese, you are warmly invited to attend one of our Annual Giving Workshops.

Annual Giving Campaign Workshops
Saturday, July 9 | 10:00 AM | Grace Church, Silver Spring
Thursday, July 28 | 7:00 PM | Zoom

Register for a Workshop

Annual Giving Campaign Toolkit Resources page

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington is pleased to share the 2022 Online Annual Giving Toolkit. The theme for this year, See, I Am Doing a New Thing, comes from the prophet Isaiah, and reminds us that God is always doing something new. As ever, undertaking an Annual Giving Campaign is an opportunity for parish leadership to remind congregations that their financial pledges are a crucial investment in the future life and ministry of the church.

For many, the recent past has been a mixture of uncertainty and concern, excitement and hope. We have continued to live with the ongoing pandemic, never quite knowing what the next day might bring or when the next surge in cases might come. At the same time, we have been able to regather inside our churches, worship together in-person, see old friends and welcome new ones, many of whom we have only known online.

While we continue to cherish the traditions that ground us and help provide some much-desired stability, the wilderness of the pandemic has also given us a chance to reevaluate how we can best follow Jesus into, as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry proclaims, a loving, liberating, and life-giving relationship with God, with each other, and with the earth. Long standing ministries have been revitalized with new ideas and focus. Buildings, sanctuaries, and worship spaces are being viewed with fresh perspectives. New ministries have sprung to life. Across the Diocese of Washington, we have:

  • Sponsored families fleeing war and hardship from around the world
  • Helped people experiencing food insecurity find healthy meals for their families
  • Supported community members on the edge of homelessness in finding resources to pay utility bills
  • Offered a warm and safe place to rest for people who are unhoused

Throughout the Scriptures, we see God and God’s people “doing a new thing.” In Genesis, God did the first new thing by creating the world out of a dark void, promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, and gave the 10 Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The prophets reminded the Israelites to look for new things in unexpected places. In the Incarnation, we see and experience the ultimate new thing as Jesus lives, dies, and rises again in our midst.

God is also inviting us to continue the work of discerning how best to preach the gospel afresh in this and in every generation. Through the financial support of our parishes, we join together with the Holy Spirit in breathing life, light, and hope into the world. This kind of engagement requires thoughtful and prayerful financial commitment from each of us.

No two congregations are the same in terms of available time and resources to conduct their Annual Giving Campaign.

With this in mind, we invite you to explore, modify, and use the materials collected in this toolkit in whatever ways will be most helpful to your parish. Your greatest success will come from adapting the timeline and other offerings to reflect your congregation’s unique needs and experiences. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions if something seems unclear or if you’d like further guidance. The Financial Resources Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington is ready to assist you in conducting a successful Annual Giving Campaign.

Email the Financial Resources Committee

2022 Annual Giving Campaign Workshops Interest Form

2022 Annual Giving Campaign Workshops Interest Form

Please fill out and submit this form if you are interested in attending one of the Annual Giving Campaign workshops in July. We will be in touch with information about how to register closer to the dates.
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Which Annual Giving Campaign Workshop do you wish to attend?