We all probably have a favorite season of the year. For me, it’s autumn. In our part of the world, there’s of course the beautiful foliage, but I also like the feel of the natural world slowing down – plants are becoming dormant, animals that don’t migrate are going into hibernation, storing food, or otherwise hunkering down for the coming cold weather. I feel the vibe of this slowing of nature and it puts me into a contemplative, introspective mood that evokes a feeling of gratitude for all the good fortune I have experienced in life.
Superimposed on my autumnal sense of gratitude, I hear about and see some of the many needs of the world – near and far – and I get into a particularly strong giving frame of mind. I think for many other people, the same sentiment must be true. For this reason, the theme of my column in this issue of A Voice is “cheerful giving.” Now is the time of year when a particular Biblical passage, 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8 (NRSV), especially resonates for me:
“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not regretfully or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”
Globally, there is no shortage of situations that could benefit from cheerful giving by St. John’s parishioners. I have found issues in which Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) are engaged to be good foci for channeling gifts with global reach. For example, in previous issues of A Voice this year I have referenced ERD’s calls for donations to assist the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. By donating to the ERD’s Ukraine Crisis Response Fund, one can help meet critical needs for people fleeing the violence including food, cash, blankets and hygiene supplies, and I know many of St. John’s parishioners have done so.
Regionally, addressing the food shortages for many of our neighbors is one important way for us to give cheerfully. All year, at Sunday morning Eucharists, the food donation basket is regularly filled to overflowing, and this food gets donated to the Roe Jan Food Pantry in Hillsdale. Also, on special occasions, St. John’s parishioners participate generously in helping provide food in the community in other ways. For example, this Thanksgiving Day, West Copake Reformed Church is hosting Thanksgiving Dinner at the Copake Town Park Building with participation of St. John’s and other Roe Jan area congregations. Another seasonal giving opportunity is the Christmas Friends initiative, headed-up at St. John’s by parishioner Donna Platt. Last year, St. John’s was able to make more than 33 children’s Christmas a little happier; the whole Roe Jan community was able to “adopt” more than 300 children!
Locally, at St. John’s itself, there are two major ways to give cheerfully this autumn. One way is by donating to the Capital Campaign; the accomplishments of this effort so far, and the remaining need, are discussed in the Capital Campaign Committee Update in this issue of A Voice. The other major way to support St. John’s this autumn is through the annual Stewardship Pledge Drive, and it is this vital need on which I wish to focus in the concluding section of my report.
Many parishioners give to St. John’s in the plate offering at Sunday morning Eucharists and special services, while others make gifts by pledging an amount they plan to give for the entire next year, to be paid out in weekly, monthly, or annual increments. Both methods of giving are very important, and all donations are gratefully received! An additional value of donating by pledge is that this method allows St. John’s to plan its operating budget for the coming year. If you would like to pledge, but have not done so before, please contact Wendy Langlois, Stewardship Chairperson, for a Pledge Form.
I conclude my message in this season of cheerful giving with a prayer – A Collect for Guidance (BCP):
“Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being. We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”