On a recent quiet afternoon at home, while I was busy with whatever I was busy with, my dear Amy was being unusually creative, unknown to me. Thinking of the welcoming nature of St. Stephen’s and how that welcoming might be more fully expressed, she was at work on a tri-fold pamphlet that would be given to visitors, introducing them quite richly to our parish.
In creating this document, she was using her laptop in ways that were completely new to her and more than surprising to me. When I saw what she had created, I said, “How marvelous!”
In order to take this project further, Amy enlisted the help of Linda Schrock, Erika Heins and Susan Ho. Linda and Ericka are going to address the artistic aspect of the pamphlet and Susan the content. Quite a dynamic foursome!
Amy asked Susan to provide her with a list of agencies that had received financial support from SSEC over recent years, thinking that sharing this information with newcomers would be indicative of our commitment to the community. Overnight, Susan provided a truly remarkable list, one that far exceeded anything that Amy and I knew about.
And that brings me to the reason I am writing to you just now.
For as long as we have been associated with St. Stephen’s, we have known and valued very highly the parish’s history of generosity, putting an annual line item in the budget for 10% of the parish income to be given away. Currently, Jan Bahner and the Outreach Committee have oversight of this distribution.
What we did not know is the breadth and extent to which SSEC has invested in and supported local and not-so-nearby efforts to accomplish and sustain good and faithful enterprises. Susan’s list, augmented by Jan, is a revelation!
Currently, the following have already received money or in-kind donations from St. Stephen’s as 2023 continues: North Whidbey Help House Food Bank, Gifts of the Heart Food Bank, Olympic View Elementary School, Episcopal Relief and Development, Shade [Fedele’s program in Tanzania], Ryan’s House, SPiN Café and Island Senior Resources. There are an additional seven agencies selected for funding in 2023, once they have been approved by the Vestry in October. In addition to in kind gifts for the relocation of a Ukrainian family, dollars have been given WICares to help with the family’s resettlement. And we’ve committed to supporting the Kids’ First Angel Tree for the holidays.
Susan and Jan also listed nine other agencies that have received funding from St. Stephen’s over recent years. This is a total of 26 agencies or institutions that have received support and thereby encouragement from St. Stephen’s.
Surely, surely, God is well pleased!
In this Stewardship Season, then, you and we need to recognize and rejoice that this generosity is fundamental to the constitution and nature of our parish. Our pledges in support of St. Stephen’s are shared, in appropriate measure, broadly and gracefully throughout the community and the world where we find ourselves.
When you consider your pledging for the coming year, please be mindful that a tangible portion of what you give, what we give, will be given away. This is how it ought to be!
As to the snazzy new welcome pamphlet, stay tuned!