October 16, 2016 — Twenty-second Sunday After Pentecost
Guest Speaker: Mr. Tully Anderson
This is the first in a series of talks on stewardship by CTK parishioners.
This morning I will be sharing some of my stewardship experiences.
Ellie and I are living in Accord to be near our grandchild, Neva. She is my reason for speaking to you this morning. Today, CTK has a strong and vibrant role in our community, and as Neva grows she needs to see and understand how churches are important in holding the fabric of society together. In three short years, we have seen CTK feed thousands, raise funds to build homes , brighten holidays, support migrant workers, and host numerous community events —- a true testament of serving the very least among us. Clearly, I would like to see CTK’s role within the community continue and grow.
We came to CTK in the summer of 2013 from the village of Montville in Queensland Australia. We were members of St Mary’s Anglican Church, our village church, with a congregation of about forty . Montville is located on the Blackall Range overlooking the beautiful Sunshine Coast. Our village officially had a population of about 800, but I suspect that overstated our permanent population. Our community welcomed tourists (mostly day trippers) to the Montville Memorial Precinct —- a tiny village green, surrounded by huge Morton Bay Fig trees planted after WW I in remembrance of the fallen, a community hall and St Mary’s church and Hall. Our small congregation was very active in the Range community. Essentially, stewardship was a continuous effort —— our church had become a desired wedding venue, our church hall became the home of our Arts community, and the long established St Mary’s Camellia Festival was a major community and tourism event.
In small Australian communities, it is well understood that regardless of differences, we must cooperate and collaborate. Collectively, we all needed to support the Bush Fire Brigade, the Care Cottage, Meals-on-Wheels, providing transport when necessary, calling on the sick, and our congregation kept St Mary’s Church open seven days a week for our community and tourists alike —- we offered everyone an oasis of peace for contemplation and prayer. It was a joy for us to read the comments of overseas visitors in our St Mary’s guest book. Stewardship meant we had to find a way to meet as many needs as possible to preserve both our church and community.
You should know that St Mary’s had neither a Stewardship program nor campaign during our time in that Parish. No pledging, no tracking, no follow-up. A very unorthodox approach to Stewardship which perhaps was possible given our small congregation and the years of support provided by those not in the congregation —— regardless, we understood that many hands achieved stewardship for St Mary’s and our Montville community.
Over decades of almost constant moving, I have seen a variety of Stewardship approaches. Ellie and I have been in tiny micro congregations (Iran and Korea), large (almost corporate) congregations, and we helped establish of a mission church. That church, some 25 years later is now a full fledged parish. While Stewardship campaigns were significantly different, there were constants: the desire to serve the community was always paramount; each relied upon the faith, optimism and talent of that congregation; and always thoughtful prayer. I have to say the CTK is blessed with the most talented people that I have ever come across—- that uniqueness is a significant strength, which has served you well.
I will not be speaking to you about the dollars needed to continue the missions of CTK for two reasons: first, I don’t know what is required. I only know that there are many in need of our help; second, I know that when a financial need is clearly stated and understood that CTK will step up to meet that need. My time in Montville, proved to me that stewardship campaigns are efficient and necessary for planning BUT they actually may not have been as critical to achieving the stewardship “goal” as I had for so long believed. Ultimately, St Mary’s financial goal was always achieved, but in a less straightforward way than I had ever experienced.
Their approach did reinforce that stewardship requires an open heart: a willingness to accept everyone; a willingness to give generously of time and talent; a willingness to share a smile with someone else; and a willingness to offer ideas to help serve those around us (and even those far away). In small communities, we know that we are all just temporarily “able”, we know that there are times when we will need help and we know that there are times when we must step forward. That knowledge is the essence of stewardship which leads to our ability at CTK to achieve our primary goal — to love one another. That goal is without reservation, but we also understand that everyday: we must preserve and enhance our resources; we need to overcome limitations in our ability to help and finally we need to constantly be open to new needs and solutions. Experience tells me, stewardship campaigns are an effective way to prepare us to achieve our collective goals.
Since arriving, I have seen SO many examples of stewardship that it is difficult to highlight a specific one. I have told you that I highly value time and talent, so I will share one of my observations from the support CTK provided to the migrant workers march. Ellie and I went to the church in Kingston to pick up two marchers for an overnight stay, listen to inspiring speakers and learn more about the movement. We were seated towards the rear of that little church. Just in front of me was an older migrant worker participating in the march. The longer he sat the more uncomfortable he became as he was stiffening from a long of day of walking. Some of the younger marchers seemed to be keeping an eye on him, but he persevered to the end. I noticed that at the end of the evening, he and a fellow marcher left with a Spanish speaking couple, which said to me that his English was probably limited.
So think about this for a minute —- here was a man that didn’t need the pain of marching for days to Albany, who sat in pain for quite awhile listening attentively to speakers he may not have been able to fully understand, because he knew that his purpose was to serve as living testimony of the profound social injustice experienced by all migrant workers. I know that his commitment touched his fellow marchers and I prayed that his presence would sway Albany legislators. His stewardship was his silent inspirational reminder to all that change was long overdue. Pretty powerful stuff.
My stewardship journey has had many twists, turns and roundabouts — some good, some exceptional —- always learning and growing. Along the way, I have learned and relearned one lesson —- simple things, done with love and kindness, go a long way towards providing everyone a welcoming community. My experience tells me that truely nothing is impossible. I know that its not the “signing” up that achieves the mission, rather its SHOWING UP that does. At CTK anything is possible. We just have to be open to the possibilities. For me, we are in the “human touch” business, BUT I have heard that in the 21st Century our church is an anachronism in a “point and click” world. My experience says “whoa, not so fast”, someone has to pack backpacks for hungry children! We will, for decades to come, need a physical platform from which to serve our mission. Thus maintaining and enhancing our presence is fundamental to our ministry. I know better than most how very difficult it is to assist without a physical presence. Difficult times are here and more may be coming so our need to assist will not be diminishing.
I ask you to consider how you may help keep CTK as a flourishing community resource. Give willingly of your time and talents and, of course, consider how you are able to help financially. I know that somedays it seems time, talent and kindness may be a little scarce, but here at CTK we have always been able to find the right balance and press on.
My journey tells me, we will find the funds necessary to achieve our mission.
Finally, you may feel that none of my requests are within your ability to grant — then remember that Migrant worker — your presence means the world to us and we will be forever indebted for your prayers.