A Message About Giving
from Fr. Michael
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; my God, I put my trust in you…” Psalm 25:1-2
On November 28, 2021, the First Sunday of Advent, I had the privilege of preaching the sermon at our first joint worship service with the community of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. The focus of the sermon was Psalm 25:1-2, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; my God, I put my trust in you…”. Reflecting on the histories of both St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and St. Francis Episcopal Church, I shared my belief that God was with us in all that has gone before and is surely present in all we are currently doing… even our waiting.
Waiting is something the parishioners of St. Francis Episcopal Church have done for almost 10 years now. We have waited and continue to wait for the end of schism litigation, as the South Carolina Supreme Court is scheduled on December 8, 2021, to determine whether it will enforce its original decision handed down on August 2, 2017, returning 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher to The Episcopal Church. While we wait for that decision, we also await diocesan leaderships plan for the continued presence of The Episcopal Church in West Ashley, regardless of the litigation outcome, and guidance on when and where St. Francis might return to West Ashley for worship.
We have begun a new liturgical year and entered the season of Advent, a season of great hope and expectation for the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people, while waiting patiently, yet assuredly in His love for us. It is during Advent season this year that we ask you to prayerfully consider making a financial commitment to the ongoing operation and ministry of St. Francis Episcopal Church for 2022.
During an all-parish meeting held on October 9, 2021, members of St. Francis affirmed their desire to continue as the presence of The Episcopal Church in West Ashley going forward, even if that meant worshiping elsewhere temporarily. Per the directives of the membership, the vestry authored a “Resolution of Continuing Mission” affirming our mission in West Ashley and detailing our expectations of The Diocese of South Carolina going forward. This resolution was presented to Bishop Ruth Woodliff-Stanley during her meeting with St. Francis parishioners on November 4, 2021. At that meeting, the membership assured our bishop of its desire to continue worshiping and ministering in West Ashely, whether as the community of St. Francis on the campus of Old St. Andrew’s Parish Church or elsewhere, or even as the “seed community” for a newly planted Episcopal Church in West Ashley, should that be the decision of The Diocese of South Carolina. Everyone present at both meetings said that the most important thing was to stay together as a community which loves and supports one another and agreed to continue to support St. Francis with their time, talent, and treasure during the transitionary period during which St. Francis will worship with the community of St. Mark’s.
In our waiting, many have given up on St. Francis Episcopal Church. You have not and neither has our new bishop. I have every reason to believe our bishop will uphold her commitment to us if we continue to remain committed. Although we will be worshiping temporarily at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, we will retain our separate and independent corporate identity and therefore need to maintain our financial independence. Therefore, your financial support in 2022 is perhaps more critical than any previous year, as the diocese will surely be evaluating our ongoing viability.
Henri Nouwen, priest, professor, and theologian in one of the last books he authored, titled Bread for the Journey, wrote:
“Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting, as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the Ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps. Waiting for God is an active, alert- yes joyful- waiting. As we wait, we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him, we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes”.
St. Francis Episcopal Church is a community of disciples of Jesus Christ who love without judging, respecting the dignity of every human being. In 2022, let our waiting be an active, alert- yes joyful- waiting. Please consider making a financial pledge through the Tithe.ly program online or by sending an email advising of your 2022 pledge to our Treasurer Rob Turner at email@example.com before December 25, 2021. As always, your pledge amount will remain strictly confidential.
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; my God, I put my trust in you…”
2022 Pledge Campaign
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