Tuesday Word: Stewardship

Thank you to all who participated in the parish meeting this past Sunday.  The result of the vote was to not invest full dollars into the upkeep of the Annex.  You have given your vestry direction and context as we go ahead. (Don’t know what ‘vestry’ is?  See below)

However, I was most excited by the tone of the meeting.  What I heard were people actively asking the ‘right’ questions – questions of stewardship (responsible care and management) and vision:

  • We wrestled with how to best care for our buildings
  • We wrestled with ecological responsibilities
  • We wrestled with community care-taking (especially thinking of our Spanish friends)
  • We wrestled with who God is inviting us to be (A community center…)
  • We imagined what ‘futures’ could be on our South lands. (creative build? More garden? etc., etc.)
  • We took stock of what we actually have as a parish (some capital funds, access to energy rebates and grants, etc.)

And we did all these things kindly, thoughtfully, and from the heart.  I reflect that I have been at other church meetings that have carried none of the latter descriptions and have been tough to attend.  Thank you to all who actively egaged the question in a good way.

Stewardship has to do with caring for what we have been given.  Recognizing that all we have has indeed been GIVEN as gift.  Even our abilities to make and create and to work hard are gifts of God and so we give thanks.

There are two other acts of stewardship coming up:

  1. You will be invited in the next three weeks to share in the financial care of st. Augustine’s ministry.
  2. Advent begins on the 27th – consider now how you will ‘care’ for that time.  How might you enter those four weeks of preparation for the Nativity with intention and consciousness?  The Advent Retreat morning tomorrow will allow some of that work (contact revjcrane [at] yahoo.com or call the church office if you still want to join in).

 

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Anglican Parish Governance

You may not know the basic governance structures of an Anglican parish in this Diocese.  There are three basic groups:

The Parish: All baptized connected to the parish who do not vote in another parish’s Annual General Meeting.  The Sunday meeting was a legislative expression of this group.  Large and important items must be brought here.

The Corporation: the legal ‘body’ of the parish made up of the Rector, the People’s Warden (elected), and the Rector’s Warden (appointed).  The Corporation is the business center of the parish – charged to deal with the day-to-day business, financial, and maintenance needs of the church.

The Vestry: Vestry is the visioning ‘board’ of the parish.  It is made up of the members of Corporation as well as a determined number of elected members from the parish (number determined by congregation size).  One or two vestry members are also ‘lay delegates to Synod,’ meaning that they will attend the Diocesan Synod representing the Parish at this bi-annual whole-docese meeting.  Vestry asks the big questions about the life of the parish and helps shape direction and focus year by year. (Historically, they often met in the vesting room of the church, and so the name!)

At the whole diocese level, the Bishop oversees the ministry of every parish in the Diocese (about 60 parishes) and she is supported by the staff of the Synod office (about 10 people).  The Synod office also administers payroll, insurance, benefits, and other supports for the parishes.