Pledge Campaign Reflections in 2017

This Church better than a Good Man! Nancy helps me be a Better Me.

I was asked to speak about the services St. James’s Church and Nancy Warman provides, and it is an honor to do so. They have been as part of my family’s life for several years. The aid the church provides make you feel better about yourself. They make you feel like you are getting a helping hand instead of a handout. Believe me that does wonders for your self-esteem. If you truly need help for your family, help is just a phone call away. You have a hard time paying rent or utilities, the church and Nancy are ready to assist. I also want to mention that the Men’s Cooking Team has provided meat loaf to my family and others. And a special thanks to Chip Woodson, who helped me learn the importance of budgeting.

The support is ongoing. Not just monetarily. If you feel overwhelmed by life’s ups and downs you can vent one-on-one with Nancy or her voicemail, which I call all the time. Physically, mentally, emotionally as well as financially — they really do.

St. James’s is simply amazing and I thank God for your being a vital part of the church. You inspire more people than you could ever imagine through prayers and all that you do. The Christmas, Thanksgiving, back-to-school programs, you give hope with your prayers. I know it’s hard always dealing with other people’s problems every single day. A love offering on Easter, Mother’s Day and just because you care. That’s your gift, helping people feel hopeful when they feel helpless.

~ Cynthia
September 3, 2017

Entrusting St. James’s to Our Care

According to Merriam-Webster, stewardship is “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”
I believe that living in community with others is core to being human. We as individuals are enriched by engaging with our family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and in faith communities.

Growing up as an Army brat, I had the opportunity to experience several faith communities before joining the Episcopal Church in college. I have been a church member for 30+ years, even as others my age have drifted away from organized religion.

For me my faith community is more than a place to gather on Sundays and celebrate major life events. It is a forum for learning, volunteering, and enjoying the company of others. But it was not until my 18-year marriage took an unexpected turn that I became more fully aware of the powerful role the church can play in providing a safe and nurturing place for those in need. I see the church as part of my extended family – my “communion of saints” – helping form who I am and how I relate to the world around me.

I appreciate that a vibrant, healthy church community requires practical “care and feeding” that goes beyond simply attending services and parish events. As responsible stewards, we support things like safe, climate-controlled buildings and comfortable chairs to sit on when we gather, technologies to support effective communication about opportunities for involvement, and the staff and clergy to design and carry out programs to enrich our faith and help us make meaningful connections with others in our parish and in the broader community.

I joined St. James’s in 2010 when I moved back to Richmond after almost 20 years in Philadelphia. Being part of this parish family has been an incredible gift to me and my 13-year old son. We find it a privilege to join other St. James’s parishioners in being entrusted with the care and nurturing of this wonderful community. Together, we invest our time, talent and resources so that St. James’s can continue to enrich us and the world around us.

~ Christie Hartwell
September 17, 2017

Nurturing and Being Nurtured

Before Bob and I joined St. James’s, we had visited what seemed like every Episcopal church in Richmond, but none seemed to be the church home we were seeking. Then one Sunday in 2011, we made the long trek from our home – then in Short Pump – to St. James’s, and we’ve been here ever since.

That first Sunday, I ran into old high school classmates in the garage – a good omen. We heard the powerful and provocative preaching and the fabulous music. We were greeted warmly by friends and by people we’d never met. And then there was that sign above the chancel – “Be Ye Doers.”

That sealed it. We joined St. James’s and signed our pledge card. Before long, I was involved with WomanKind and Bob was driving the Westminster Canterbury bus. We volunteered for CARITAS. I donated to the Mardi Gras auction, and we happily downed oysters and beer in the name of missions. We usher and bar tend and make food for receptions.

A couple of years ago, we joined fellow St. Jamesers on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, following in the footsteps of Jesus. And perhaps that is what I love most about St. James’s: We really do try to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as doers of the word. All the programs that help us do that must be supported by an underlying and consistent line item in the church budget. Our wonderful staff needs to know going into each year what the budget will enable us to do. That’s why we sign a pledge card every year and increase our commitment as we can. Leading the WomanKind effort, in particular, brought home to me the importance of not taking our ministries for granted, for a lean year can put any one of them in jeopardy. If we care about WomanKind, as I do, or the music program, or missions, or CARITAS, we also have to take responsibility for ensuring their future.

At St. James’s, Bob and I have found a lively, active, thought-provoking, caring community that wrapped its arms around us when our daughter’s high-risk pregnancy put her on bed rest for 120 days and again during my parents’ illnesses and my mother’s death. We have seen two grandsons baptized here and two granddaughters confirmed. St. James’s nurtures us, and we are doing our best to nurture St. James’s in return.

~ Brooke Taylor
September 24, 2017

Practicing for Peace

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:7

This is a favorite verse of mine and one that I try to call to mind when I’m in the midst of a challenging time. I literally feel myself exhale when I read this. It’s a reminder to release those things that weigh me down and to give myself permission to be surrounded by calm. Let it go to make room for peace.

I’ve recently started to try to practice meditation. I’m not very good at it yet. My mind easily wanders and I must pull myself back. The meditation guides I listen to acknowledge this will happen – it’s quite natural, in fact. I’m instructed that when this does happen, all I need to do is “begin again.” Focus back on the simple act of breathing – in…out…in…out – and I am back on track. As they remind me, this is a practice, after all. I am quite sure that a reason I haven’t totally given up is that I was primed for the certainty to falter and at the same time, given a tool to help myself reset. And I keep trying because I see the benefit from all of this – even following my imperfect sessions.

I see such strong connections between this meditation practice and church ‘practices.’ Speaking for myself and for my family, arriving for a Sunday service (not even talking about whether we arrive on time!) and emptying my mind to be present can be extremely challenging. So why am I drawn to show up? It’s because I know that I am invited and welcome – wherever I am. And because, after the service, I typically experience that exhale sensation that follows from feeling reset, recharged, and refocused. And it is from doing this – and continuing to try, even after I fail – that I move closer to more fully allowing myself to let my heart and mind be kept and guarded, in peace.

~ Lisa Mock
October 1, 2017

Carol’s Life Is Changed Because of St. James’s

Carol’s modest, tidy house is off Belt Boulevard in a quiet neighborhood. She has lived there more than 20 years raising three children and seven grandchildren. St. James’s has been a source of support in many ways for her, with financial aid, food contributions, and moral support. “I would like to give back to St. James’s in some way to repay the church for all it has done for me,” said the 74-year-old grandmother.

Showing the tip of her little finger, she indicates the size of the spot on her lung. Chemo and radiation are her treatments and, so far, side effects have been manageable.

She loves the St. James’s meatloaf! Sometimes she prepares it with pan gravy, sometimes with tomato sauce to make spaghetti sauce. She fondly remembers a visit from parishioners Becky and Mike DeCamps, when they brought her some of that specially baked comfort food. Her daughter Alexa recently had a setback, so she and her son Marquon are currently living with Carol. “I put my troubles with God, and I know that he sent St. James’s to help me and my family,” she said.

Carol is a doer. She told me about a young woman she knows who gets off work at Broad Street and Staples Mill Road at 11:00 p.m. and was walking along Broad Street to 1st Street downtown to catch a bus to her apartment on Chamberlayne Avenue. Carol helped her find a ride for $5 a week with a woman who also works that late shift. This is who Carol is – someone of very modest means who finds ways to help others. The towering maple tree in her neighbor’s yard was a tiny sapling in the alley when Carol dug it up and planted it for her elderly neighbor.

When you support St. James’s so that we can give her support, you enable Carol, in turn, to be a supporter of a network of family and friends.

~ Suzanne Hall, Director of Stewardship and Development
October 8, 2017

Giving Back to Our  Spiritual Home 

Take a moment to contemplate the concept of home. Consider the places and experiences that have made you feel most at home during times of uncertainty in your own life and in our world.

I realize that God has blessed me not only with the love of my family and the comfort of the home my parents made for my sister and me, but also with the opportunity to feel at home in other places in my life – my schools, my university, my summer camp, and above all, our church. For some of us, St. James’s is an old family home. For others, a first home in which to raise young families. Either way, it is a home filled with love, hope, kindness, and forgiveness – a home where all of God’s children are welcome.

Following a period of admittedly unsatisfactory attendance in my young adult life, I have returned home to St. James’s, feeling connected to our church community, to my family, and to the memories I have of us together in our sanctuary. As a witness to the baptisms of my sister’s children, I promised to help raise them in our church and teach them to follow Christ. I find joy in seeing their curiosity and wonder as they begin to grow and worship beside us. I wish my grandparents were still in the pew with us, especially when we sing hymns like “Amazing Grace” and “Welcome Happy Morning,” which will always remind me of them. Then I visit them in the church’s memorial garden and I realize they will always be with me in the spiritual home we shared.

During a time in my life when I feel pulled in many different directions professionally, personally, and philanthropically, I realize my responsibility to be a steward of our church home. I make my pledge to St. James’s with joy and gratitude, knowing that it will go towards the ministry and mission of our church, helping others like me to find a spiritual home for themselves and their families.

~ Molly Trice
October 15, 2017

Be a Honeycomb

A Baptist minister once told me that he liked to tell his church members to give until it hurt. Unfortunately, he soon discovered that the sheep in his flock had a low threshold of pain. This has never been my approach to stewardship. Instead I think of giving in the context of my own blessings. What am I thankful for in my own life? If I started a list, it would quickly exceed the “word count” the annual giving committee gave me. However when it comes to how we choose to respond to God’s generosity, I am reminded of an old quotation about the various types of givers one finds in human life.

Givers can be divided into three types: the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. Some givers are like a piece of flint – to get anything out of it you must hammer it, and even then you only get chips and sparks. Other are like a sponge – to get anything out of a sponge you must squeeze it and squeeze it hard, because the more you squeeze a sponge, the more you get. But others are like a honeycomb – which just overflows with its own sweetness. That is how God gives to us, and it is how we should give in turn.
St James’s needs your financial support more than ever this year. Let’s all strive to be that honeycomb and give with a joy and sweetness that will bring joy to our church, our community and even the world.

~ John McCard, Rector
October 22, 2017

Give, Expecting Nothing in Return

… for the gifts you receive will be greater than the gifts you give. Pledging to St. James’s is the purest form of giving we can imagine and the greatest leveraging opportunity there is. Between its outreach, unbelievable pastoral care, spiritual direction, and nourishment we witness and receive – coupled with the incredibly special church community we are so blessed to be a part of – there’s not even a close second when it comes to our philanthropic priorities.

“God will take care of Ferdie and he will take care of you, too” were the most comforting words spoken to me when Ferd was diagnosed with acute leukemia in 2008. Dana Corsello, the former Associate Rector, said that to me when we visited after Ferdie’s diagnosis, and I always held onto those words whenever I felt scared or helpless. We don’t know how we would have made it through that difficult time without the support of our St. James’s community of clergy and friends, some whom we didn’t know personally.

We often said how sorry we felt for people who didn’t belong to a strong church community. The pastoral care we received was unbelievable, and we knew we were always remembered by the visits, notes, and prayers we received from the clergy, staff and members of the congregation. We will always feel incredibly grateful to St. James’s for embracing us in our great time of need.

Like any healthy relationship, there is giving and receiving, based on where we are at a particular time. Our relationship with St. James’s works the same way. What we give to St. James’s is between us and God. We’ve supported many things over the years, some, but not all, we’ve cared deeply about. Some contributions were made for business reasons, some because of peer pressure, and some, quite frankly, because we didn’t want to be conspicuously absent from some list. We believe our God knows what’s going on in our hearts and minds, and when we give to St. James’s, we are giving in acknowledgement of our gratitude, and the incredible and often unreserved gifts we are given…every day of our lives. “Give, expecting nothing in return, for the gifts you receive will be greater than the gifts you give. “ We have found that to be truer than we ever imagined!

~ Janet and Ferd Baruch
October 29, 2017

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