On January 26, I participated in a conversation with bishops, priests and lay People from across the Episcopal Church listening to reports from our delegates to COP 21 – the climate summit in Glasgow.
The reports were fascinating and hopeful. But the sense of urgency is acute. The message the church needs to be sharing and standing on is: We’ve got 8 years to prevent warming beyond 1.5 degrees celsius.
That’s good news! 8 years is do-able. It’s manageable. Plus, the movement has already begun. Corporations, governments and communities are finally seeing that it is in their self-interest to pivot and change. Think of how much growth a human experiences in 8 years. We’re talking about billions of people, ready for that kind of change.
Here at St. Paul’s, we are also already on the move. We’re making changes and adjustments to our way of life so that we can do our part to mitigate climate change. Here are some more things we can do together:
Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and our strength…though the earth be moved, and waters rage and foam, the Lord is our stronghold.”
The Holy One is in the midst of us, let’s do all we can to support the life and abundance that God created and human hands have harmed. It’s holy work!
-- Pastor Rebecca
Last month, your vestry unanimously supported a new outreach to our neighbors called, La Misa.
La Misa is a program, initiated by TryTank/Virginia Theological Seminary and the national church, that equips congregations to invite neighbors who are culturally shaped by ancestry or immigration from South or Central America or Puerto Rico. St. Paul’s is located in the center of a vibrant and growing community that includes these neighbors.
La Misa, will equip us to welcome and incorporate those who are specifically looking for liturgical worship with progressive social policy and theology. That's us!
We anticipate that this ministry will begin to unfold during the spring through training in cultural sensitivity, and the raising up of a team that will lead us in the invitation and incorporation component. In addition, we may be receiving a newly ordained priest to assist us in this project.
Please be prayerful about your role in this new ministry. James Ammon is serving as interim team captain. Speak to him about ideas and ways you want to participate.
I am delighted to be a part of St Paul’s during this important time. This is our year to widen our welcome to all of God’s people!
A word about our finances...
St. Paul’s is so blessed to have received several significant bequests that have been invested and monitored through a fund called the Diocesan Investment Trust (DIT). The total value of these funds as of November 30, 2021, is $480,533. This amount fluctuates with the market, but we have diversified between stocks and bonds as a way of protecting our investment from the vicissitudes of the market while optimizing our interest income.
Now, speaking as possibly the most mathematically challenged member of the congregation, (better perhaps than Iris and Charles of the 2 year old department), here’s the deal: we are spending into the principal of our investment fund. The way I think about it, it’s like eating the lettuce in your garden. If you take bits of it off, it will keep growing and replacing itself. If you take too much, it doesn’t grow as well and takes longer to replace what was lost. If you pull it out by the roots, no more lettuce. Same deal with this fund.
We have been withdrawing from the principal because we’ve had to. By faith, we’re believing that our congregational giving will continue to increase so that the practice can stop.
So far, year after year, our giving is growing. And significantly.
Last year was the first time the Vestry and Treasurer conveyed the reality of our financial situation to the whole parish. This year, at Annual Meeting, our treasurer will again make this situation really clear. And she will use math!
As your Rector, I’m not losing any sleep over our situation. St. Paul’s is in God’s hands, and even if we were to lose all the money in our bequest, we would continue, by faith, to survive. However, it’s important that we all know our financial status, because we share the responsibility for our life together.
Let’s continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us and grow us. All that we have and all that we are is a part of our life in Christ. With that clear commitment at our center, we will be well.
-- Pastor Rebecca
Most of the blog articles are written by our Rector, The Rev. Rebecca Ragland