You can download a 2018 Stewardship Pledge form here.
Stewardship Reflections from our 2017 Stewardship Campaign
Good morning! My name is Martin Bodtmann. I was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and was raised Roman Catholic by strongly religious parents. The only way to get out of going to church on Sunday was to be near death. I became an altar boy in 4th grade and served until 8th as was the usual practice back then. In fact I am the product of 16 years of Roman Catholic education. After Catholic grammar school I attended both a Jesuit high school and college. Growing up I knew I was different from most other boys early on, but I never thought that God did not love me. However it wasn’t until I did an abbreviated version of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in my senior year of college that I became comfortable with my sexuality. I also learned that I could indeed have an unmediated relationship with my creator. They were probably NOT the insights St. Ignatius had in mind when he designed the Exercises, but they helped me immensely.
When I came to Philadelphia my first church home was Dignity, an organization of gay Roman Catholics unrecognized by that Church. In fact they worshipped and still do in an Episcopal church on Sunday nights. Dignity became an important part of my life, but the service was very guitar mass which was not my style; after all I started being an acolyte when the Mass was still said in Latin, and I liked a more formal service. Once I moved to University City with Scott in 1983 I became a member of St. Francis de Sales parish mainly so I could get the certification I needed to be godfather to two of my nieces back in Jersey, but also because I did enjoy their traditional service. While I was not an every Sunday member I was there fairly regularly until 1996.
That year then Mayor Ed Rendell officially recognized domestic partnerships for management employees of the city; Scott was one of them. When Cardinal Devilaqua had his letter opposing those partnerships read in all the parishes of the Archdiocese, De Sales did the best they could. They read the letter before the service rather than after the Gospel, which was the normal practice. However I knew I could no longer worship in a church that went out of its way to oppress me. So I ripped up my check and walked out of that Church. And six years later when I got laid off for a year from Amtrak I was certainly glad I could get medical benefits through my domestic partnership with Scott.
It took me a year to decide to find my next church home and the Episcopal church seemed like the logical place to start the search. So it was 20 years ago this fall when I first arrived at St. Mary’s. I loved the traditional Anglo Catholic service, the wonderful hymns, and the absolutely beautiful surroundings. As I began to attend regularly I learned the parish itself was at a crossroads; a long serving rector had left and a new one, Father Jim Littrell, had begun and there was the inevitable shuffling of parishioners that entails. In addition some longtime vestry members were tired and ready to retire and there was even some talk of going to a part time clergy status. When Fr. Jim asked me to join the vestry it didn’t seem like I had much choice so I answered the call and served there for two terms; it was quite a change for this not at all active former Roman Catholic.
I also volunteered to be a lector early on; it is a ministry I continue to enjoy. And as my six year’s service on the vestry ended a fellow parishioner, Tawn Stokes, for whom we now pray each Sunday, suggested we start a third Sunday brunch. I had grown up eating delicious food and enjoyed cooking myself so I found making a big meal once a month an acceptable alternative to vestry meetings! I forget when I first got roped into counting, but know I did it because it was something I could do with Nikki Blake whom many of you remember. She is a delightful young woman, and we had good times together counting, polishing brass on parish workdays, and just plain socializing. Finally earlier this year we were suffering from a lack of altar servers and Mother Mariclair asked if I’d be willing to take that on occasionally so I figured why not? I too find it hard to say no to a priest.
Well now that I’ve bored you to tears I guess I should get to the point of this stewardship speech which I agreed to do for purely selfish reasons. I ask you to consider carefully what you can give of your treasure to St. Mary’s so we can keep the doors open and the lights on in this place that I have come to love so dearly. I also want you to look at the opportunities for service listed on the pledge form and see where you might like to help out. I was thrilled when Mother Mariclair got me help in counting, and I was delighted when new members Tara and Jonathan volunteered to serve as acolytes; I was originally scheduled to serve on the altar three Sundays this month but their reinforcements let me cut back to only one. Finally, as my mother was always fond of saying, “Many hands make light work.” So I ask you to think hard, dig deep and give generously of your money and your talent to St. Mary’s, and I thank you for listening.
Sara Macro Forrest
Good morning, my name is Sara Macro Forrest, and I have been attending and a member here at St Mary’s for about 15 years. Mother Mariclair asked me to talk about Stewardship this Sunday, and I have learned to say YES – even to things that might feel difficult. I have also learned that the best way to get help in life is to ASK – right, Stan? This is especially true in volunteering and fundraising – and that’s part of what this is about. Stewardship means to take care of an organization or property, and every year at this time, we each reflect about how we can take care of St Mary’s each bringing our special talents to bear.
I am originally from North-Central Connecticut, and was raised as a “Low-Church” Episcopalian, which is why I often call the mass a service. I attended Sunday school, was confirmed, and participated in the church Youth Group. I came to Pennsylvania for College, and returned to the church after I got married.
When I first visited St Mary’s, I didn’t know what to make of the bells during mass. But there was childcare available and my older daughter was a toddler at the time. I liked the singing, loved the food, and the sense of welcome and community that I felt right away. Unlike the church I grew up in, this was an active, big city church, doing God’s work in the community, like I didn’t see in CT.
Once my daughter got old enough, Vanessa asked me if I thought we should revive the Sunday school, and we got started. We asked other parents to help, and for 12 years we read the Bible stories, put on Christmas plays, and witnessed the children’s prayers – something which has profoundly deepened my spiritual life.
One Sunday a few years ago, Thomas stood up and said the choir was looking for new members, and that you didn’t need to be an awesome singer, just have an interest. I joined the choir and have even sung a duet with Ron, and two solos – a major personal accomplishment!
During a particularly difficult time in my life, I served dinner at the UCHC meals for the homeless. This experience helped me so much! It made me realize in such a fundamental way what Jesus was talking about – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit prisoners, care for the sick, and welcome the stranger. We do all those things here, each in our different ways. I have seen God’s love in action in the world through St Mary’s.
So, as you know, the Sunday school class we had got confirmed and “graduated.” Over the summer I prayerfully considered what my role should be now. How would I contribute my Time, Treasure, and Talent? I decided I would return the favor that I received 15 years ago, and am volunteering to do childcare during the mass. And I am also going to continue the monthly monetary pledge that I have been giving.
St Mary’s is huge blessing in my life – you are all a family to me and have carried me through some big moments in my life, and I am truly grateful. You show me how to live in a community of faith, and what faith means every day. I can’t put a price tag on that, but I give what I can to support this community in all the ways that I am able. I ask you, as we gather in our stewardship pledges, to be as generous as you can be as we take care of this community to glorify God’s Love in the world.
Dear St. Marians,
You are welcome here.
“The Episcopal Church welcomes you – all of you, not as merely a church slogan, but as a reflection of what we believe Jesus teaches us and at the core of the movement he began in the first century. The Episcopal Church welcomes all. All of us!”, stated Presiding Bishop Michael Curry this past year.
St. Mary’s works to ensure that we live and proclaim this sentiment every day. Our work with Nationalities Services Center has continued this year. Members of our church have created a Social Justice Working Group and met with other Philadelphia groups concerned with social justice, such as the Diocesan Anti-Racism committee. Our banners and lawn signs proclaim to students, neighbors, and visitors who walk past that all are welcome here!
This year has been a productive and rewarding year for everyone who has participated in the many different church activities offered- programs, leadership, and worship activities. Our partnerships with St. Mary’s Nursery School, University City Hospitality Coalition, and the Bearded Ladies also further exemplify our belief that all are welcome. Will you help us continue this work?
Your financial pledge for 2018 allows St. Mary’s to meet the financial needs required for our ministries to be carried out to our larger community. Your participation and dedication to St. Mary’s drives the mission and spirit of community in our congregation. And you, through your pledge, guarantee the resources needed are available when we are called to welcome everyone.
Vestry Member and Stewardship Chairperson
P.S. We now have online giving capabilities for one-time donations, and are working on recurring options, through our online donation page: http://stmarysatpenn.org/donate/
My name is Stan Stachelek. My wife, Karen, and I have two daughters: Emma who is now a sophomore in high school and Siobhan who is an eighth grader. Philadelphia was supposed to be a three year layover for us while I finished my fellowship. That was 16 years ago. So, my family has been coming to St. Mary’s for about the past ten years. My daughters attended the St. Mary’s nursery school. Initially, what attracted us to St. Mary’s, both the church and the school, was its proximity to our house. We live just 5 blocks or so away. With two small children at the time, getting ready for church on a Sunday morning involved a lot of cajoling, yelling and bribing just to make it out the door.
Once we made it inside these doors on Sunday, we found an amazingly beautiful church with great stained glass and dark wood. It was everything that growing up as a Roman Catholic, a church was supposed to be. We knew some of the parishioners from our daughter’s nursery school and they immediately made us feel at home. We were quickly introduced to other members of the church and were very happy how such a diverse spectrum of people can slow down their lives and come together as one to listen to God’s words and try to make a small bit of sense out of the world and their place in it.
As our kids got older, our ability to make it to church on time improved and we were able to explore the church more in depth. Our daughters enrolled in the Sunday School, where many of their good friends also attended, which immediately led to the arrangement of Sunday Afternoon play dates following services, which led to chatting with their friends’ parents when it was time to pick the girls up. This in turn led to those parents becoming some of dearest friends and we continue to share in each other’s joys and anxieties as our kids have moved from nursery school to high school and college.
I mentioned that we found a very diverse spectrum of people when we got to St. Mary’s. I grew up in a rural suburban town in Central Massachusetts. It is very different from Philadelphia. My hometown has several stores to buy livestock feed or to get your tractor fixed. There were lots of Trump signs on the lawns last year mixed with NASCAR Dale Earnhardt No. 3 flags. Every time I go to work in the morning, I know that I am not in the town I grew up in. St. Mary’s makes that knowledge more hands on. Within these walls is a very diverse group of people with a myriad of talents, skills, and life experiences that I never would have imagined were necessary to make a church work. But I am certain that everyone here at St. Mary’s has used their talents in some way to positively influence my life.
Some of the talents of our fellow parishioners are easy to identify if you listen to the choir, or you eat Martin’s meatballs at the Third Thursday brunch. Those are the easy ones. However, its talking to my fellow St. Marians during that Sunday Brunch where I truly realize how blessed I am to be amongst such an amazing group of people. Over the years, they have shared their own life experiences with me, which has helped me to think through life decisions that I have to make. This in turn helped me to realize that no matter how bad things seem, it will improve. So for those conversations over the past ten years I have been coming here. I am truly grateful.
I mentioned that everyone here at St Mary’s has talents and one day about 8 years or so ago, while walking up Locust with Sara bringing our daughters to Nursery School, I was called to use mine. Sara asked me how I felt about teaching Sunday school. I laughed. No she said she was serious. I agreed still thinking there was some joke surrounding this. I knew there was no joke when I was in a room with more than half a dozen children and armed only with a box of Entenmann’s cookies. Eight years later, I have finally hung up my Sunday school hat but it was not until after I realized that I probably benefited more from the students than they did from me leading them in a game of Bible Trivia for cookies. I got to appreciate how talented and insightful today’s kids are and it truly gives me hope for our future.
Shortly after saying yes to being a Sunday School teacher I was asked to be on the vestry—specifically to be the Treasurer. Now if you ask my wife, I’m not even sure where our check book is for our household finances, but I tend to hedge my bets when it comes to any spiritual issues and hardly ever refuse a request from a clergy member. So I became the Treasurer of St. Mary’s. With Scott’s guidance I wrote out the checks so lights stayed on and people got paid. But I really got an appreciation for the volunteering and the financial commitment necessary, from each one of you; to keep this magnificent institution we call St. Mary’s functioning. And I’m going to come to that now.
What I have found out during my decade at St. Mary’s is that every single one of you in this room has talents that may not even be realized. I had no idea that I could keep what seemed at times like a screaming horde of children entertained and learning for over an hour, or that I can have a positive effect in the decision-making processes and the finances of St. Mary’s. But together with my fellow parishioners I have been able to do that. This diverse group of people here today has the many talents and skills that can continue to make St. Mary’s the amazing place that I have grown to love and call home. So please as the Stewardship Campaign starts to get underway, please take a moment to think about how your talents can benefit St. Mary’s.
Stewardship Reflections from our 2016 Stewardship Campaign
Sally Hillman Redman, People’s Warden
“The Bells of St. Mary’s”
Good morning, my name is Sally Hillman Redman, and I am member of your Vestry. I was born in Plainfield, New Jersey but moved to Middletown when I was two years old. There I grew up in a stereo-typical Baby Boomer community where all of the split-level homes looked alike, and you always had tons of friends to play with outside. In 1960, I started first grade at Saint James Grammar School on the other side of the Navesink River, two miles away in Red Bank. A year later, all dressed in white, I received my first communion in the beautiful St. James Catholic Church. A decade later Bishop Ahr confirmed me in the same church. In 1968, I crossed the parking lot from my grammar school to attend Red Bank Catholic High School for four years. While at the University of Delaware, I broke my mother’s heart when I told her that I was stepping away from the Roman Catholic Church.
All was going well until my high school sweetheart and I decided to get married at the end of college. We both wanted a church wedding; just not a Catholic wedding. Interestingly enough, my husband’s fraternity adviser at Dickinson College was an Episcopal priest! When we were casually discussing our problem with Padre at a cocktail party, he asked the big three questions of our faith: do you believe in the Last Supper, do you believe that Christ died for your sins, and do you believe in the resurrection of Christ? When we both said yes, Padre told us that he would be proud to marry us.
So, we were married on June 12, 1976 in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Carlisle, PA. When asked about my transition from the Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church, I joke that the Reformation suited me just fine.
I was officially received in the Episcopal Church in 1990. We raised our two children, Katie and Max, in Episcopal Church. I attended medium size church in Pennsylvania, a small prairie church in Minnesota, and a growing church in New Hampshire.
When I lived in Hanover, New Hampshire, it seemed that I was involved in everything at St. Thomas. I loved my church community! I am especially proud of co-founding the Jumble Sale that annually raises over $12,000. I also loved my four years in EfM, Education for Ministry. If you would like to know more about this continuing education program through the University of the South, or Sewanee, I would be happy to share. I am happy to report that our daughter, Katie was married in St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Hanover in 2015.
Meanwhile, I moved to Philadelphia in June 2011. I mourned the loss of my church community at St. Thomas and my life in Hanover. I did come to St. Mary’s on Pentecost in 2011, but it was a low attendance Sunday and I was still missing my previous church. I decided to take a break from church until I got settled in my new job and new life in Philadelphia.
A one year break turned into three. But on Easter Sunday 2014, I heard the bells of St. Mary’s ringing and ringing. Oh, here is an important fact that I need to mention: I live across the parking lot from St. Mary’s. But the bells made me realized that I was being called back church, back to a faith community. I came to church the next Sunday, and since then have seldom missed a Sunday. After I met The Rev. Mariclair Partee Carlsen and many others at St. Mary’s, and I realized that I was where I belonged. This is where I say: “Thank you, Jesus!”
Even though I planned to take it slow in 2014, I am as busy as ever with church activities. I am on Altar Guild, on the Vestry, working with the St. Mary’s Refugee Committee, the newsletter and more. I invite you will join in the fun since this is what giving of your time and talent looks like with stewardship!
Once The Rev. Mariclair Partee Carlsen spoke about our responsibility to pass this beautiful church building on to the next generation. I pledge some of my treasure to this church in thanks for current good works that happen here in this building every day. But I also pledge to help pass this building on to those who come after us. My pledge is a tangible expression of my gratitude for all of the blessing that I have received through Christ our Lord.
I have been attending St. Mary’s for about 6 years now and I recently joined the vestry. I first came to St. Mary’s during a difficult time in my life. I had just completed my undergraduate degree at Temple University, and had only recently embraced my sexuality. Having been raised in a Presbyterian church that does not celebrate gay relationships, I couldn’t fathom how church would fit into my new identity. I was very fortunate to meet my partner Thomas, who, at the time, was a grad student at Penn and was already an active member at St. Mary’s. Through him, I was introduced to an incredible community of open-minded individuals who celebrated diversity in every sense of the word.
While I found St. Marians to be very welcoming, it felt like a daunting task to step over the threshold and become a member. It wasn’t until I joined the choir that I felt comfortable enough to call St. Mary’s home. Music has always been something I can relate to, and the choir initially provided me with a safe space in which my introverted self could build relationships with people one-on-one. 6 years later and I’m stilling enjoying the reciprocal nature of giving to the choir, and therefore the church, and the way it gives back to me.
The Rev. Mariclair Partee Carlsen frequently talks about investing our “time, talent, and treasure” in St. Mary’s. Devoting my time and talent to St. Mary’s is what got me in the door and made me feel like a part of this community. Investing in St. Mary’s is not only a surefire way to personally benefit from this loving community, but your time, talent, and treasure help to expand the reach of our mission and strengthen our community.
If you haven’t already, or if you are a relative newcomer to St. Mary’s, I encourage you to explore what you think you can invest. Think about the skills you possess and an area of St. Mary’s that could benefit from your talent. Whether it’s participating in the choir or the altar guild, preparing food for coffee hour or Sunday brunch, doing community outreach, or dropping your pledge in the giving plate, there’s something meaningful that you can do to keep St. Mary’s going.
As you know, St. Mary’s is in the midst of it’s annual stewardship campaign, and as a member of the vestry, I would like to share with you why it is important to me to support the ministry of this church.
When my wife Gail and I arrived in Philadelphia in the summer of 1974, fresh out of graduate school in Baltimore, one of our first priorities was to find religious communities where we could feel at home as members of a mixed Episcopal-Jewish marriage. After visiting a number of churches and synagogues, we settled on St. Mary’s here at Penn and Society Hill Synagogue in Old City. Both of these communities were welcoming, nurturing and supportive of our non-traditional relationship.
We came at a time when the country and our faiths were in a state of ferment and change. The Vietnam War was just ending, and the counter-cultural revolution was in full swing. Civil rights, women’s liberation, including women in the priesthood, LGBT rights were hot and divisive topics in the nation and in our religious institutions. Just out of graduate school, we were products of this time of ferment, just taking our first steps into independent adulthood. I feel like I grew up at St. Mary’s. In the midst of what seemed to be a turmoil that threatened to tear the nation and the church apart, St. Mary’s, always on the forefront of change, provided a laboratory where ideas and ideals could be tested in the context of values, principles and spirituality grounded in the long history and witness of our faith. This congregation was a lodestone in a dark and stormy sea, and today that beacon continues to serve us, as many of the same issues resonate in the contemporary climate of political and spiritual unrest. Indeed, St. Mary’s has continued throughout these many years to nurture and challenge – challenge and nurture – ideals and principles grounded and honed in faith, and realized in the life and witness of this loving faith community. To me it is home.
Over the years, St. Mary’s has also been home to the St. Mary’s Nursery School, the Neighborhood Bike Works, the University City Hospitality Coalition which serves meals to the homeless, the University City School for Asian Youth which taught English to Southeast Asian refugee children flooding in during the boat people crisis, the Cherry Tree Folk Music Co-Op, the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, numerous Penn student groups – and these are only a few of the many activities that have found home under our roof.
And then there is the beauty of our worship. Don’t let me forget the choir.
But before I go on too long, let me say that all of these things need a home – a place to come together – this beautiful building and its Parish Hall. And this property needs to be maintained, and our staff need to be paid. And that’s why we have stewardship drives, so please consider what this church means in your lives and what you can commit within your means to see that St. Mary’s continues to have the resources to continue on with its mission.
Thank you, and God bless you.
For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Allie Schreffler, and I am a first-year veterinary student here at Penn. This is also my fifth year as a parishioner of St. Mary’s and my third year as a member of the vestry.
One thing that I love about the modern Episcopal church is that it puts its money where its mouth is. When its clergy or parishioners claim that they believe something, they substantiate that claim with actions, often by dedicating time and money to support a cause that they believe is important.
However, we students—and young people in general—tend to excuse ourselves from the need to turn our claims into tangible actions. I know that I certainly do. But I have always wanted to be someone that acts on my convictions. This is what I want to be when I grow up.
We often don’t like to admit it, but we are growing up right now. Our words and our actions here in college shape the kinds of adults that we will become.
Of course, we are busy, and of course, we are pretty short on cash. And yet, I always seem to have time and treasure left to give. Lately, I have donated very generous amounts of time to Netflix and perhaps too much treasure to Wawa. I like to believe that Netflix and Wawa are not two of the most important things in my life. So if I have the means to give my limited resources to these two rather trivial causes, couldn’t I allocate an hour and a few dollars from those expenditures each week to give to St. Mary’s, an organization that is a significant part of my life?
That’s what I strive to do. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t. But it’s important to me that I at least try. I believe strongly in the work that St. Mary’s does for this community and for the world beyond. If I put off supporting that belief with my actions until I have lots of money and free time or until I feel like a real live grown up, then this wonderful organization might have to wait a very long time.
Stewardship Reflections from our 2015 Stewardship Campaign
Sally Hillman Redman
Why do I pledge? I guess the bigger question is why do I come to this particular place on Sundays.
Is it because I love coming to this beautiful building with its amazing stain glass windows and the altar that helps me to focus on our Lord’s sacrifice for my sins? Yes, of course that is the reason that I pledge.
Is it for the beautiful music that transports me by the words and angelic sounds? Yes, of course that is the reason that I pledge.
Is it the words of the Book of Common Prayer that are like poetry to my ears? Yes, of course that is the reason that I pledge.
Is the Gospel, the Good News, the reason why I come here? Yes, of course, that is the reason that I pledge.
Is it the thought provoking sermons that stay with me throughout my busy week? Yes, of course that is the reason that I pledge.
Is it the fellowship of St. Marians where all are welcome with no exceptions? Yes, of course, that is the reason that I pledge.
Is the good works that this congregation does in Christ’s name? Yes, of course, that is the reason that I pledge.
All of these are true and valid reasons to pledge my time, my talent and my treasure to St. Mary’s. However, on a Sunday that follows the horrors in Paris, I need to come to a place. I need a place where the lights are turned on, where our beautiful rituals are observed, and where we sing to praise our God. I truly need to hear the word of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and a sermon that will comfort and heal me.
I need to be in a fellowship that knows what the two greatest commandments are. The first is to love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with your whole mind. Today I need to be with people who also know that the second greatest commandment is to love one another. Yes, to love one another without exception, to even love those who hate us.
Yes, of course, that is the reason that I pledge.
The Manayunk Bridge Trail which opened on Friday shows what good stewardship of our tax dollars can accomplish. An obsolete railroad bridge has been transformed into a recreational asset for now and many years to come.
As a pledging member of the parish, I have seen what the transformative power of good stewardship can do. Your pledge to contribute a set amount of money, time, and talent enables us to maintain St. Mary’s Church, Hamilton Village as a home for many ministries that have evolved over time and continue to evolve: from creating the Nursery School in the ’60s, teaching English to refugees from the Vietnam War in the ’70s, to providing a home base for the University City Hospitality Coalition, to maintaining the Women’s Spiritual Sharing Group, to recreating an active Sunday School several times over the decades- these are just a few of the ministries we have created and enabled.
I cannot leave out the love and support so generously given to me and my family by fellow St Marians over the years.
Please take time to think about what St. Mary’s means in your life, and then take time to discern how you can best be a steward of this parish. Then fill out the stewardship form available at the back of the church and return it today or next Sunday.
Janet A. Deatrick-Ash
For unto whomsoever much is given, much shall be required. I have been given much in my life in that I have had love and support. Every opportunity was afforded to me. I want to give my time and talents to help others in the best way I can.
My name is Janet Deatrick-Ash. My husband and I “downsized” and moved to an apartment in University City from New Jersey in December of 2013. We found St. Mary’s in July of 2014 after emerging from our winter-time move. While I say that we moved to Philadelphia, in many ways I had lived part of my life in University City for some time. I had been commuting from New Jersey since 1989 when I joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor.
I am a life-long Episcopalian. My mother was raised Episcopalian by parents of Dutch-German heritage in Union County, New Jersey and my father was raised Presbyterian by parents of German heritage in Defiance County, Ohio. After meeting in New York, where they both worked before World War II, they were married and had three children – my two brothers and me.
My family attended an Episcopal Church in our small Ohio town throughout my childhood. We had the same priest throughout, and he was a major support to our family. My younger brother served as an Episcopal priest for many years and is presently “retired” in New Jersey and volunteers at nearby churches that need a hand with services, visitation, and activities. My older brother is a civil engineer.
I am a child of the ’60s. My nursing education in the 1960s emphasized community aspects of care, the rights of human beings to decent health care, and the role of nurses in advocating and working towards social change. My practice, education, and research focuses on children who have serious chronic conditions or who have been diagnosed with cancer. I direct the Center for Health Disparities/Health Equity at the University of Pennsylvania. All of these experiences put me in touch with people, places, and ideas that are vastly different than the experience of growing up in my hometown in Ohio, where everyone looked the same as me.
My husband and I met in Chicago in 1986, four years after I completed my PhD at the University of Illinois. I am blessed by a wonderful life with John and by loving step children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and many wonderful friends and colleagues. We have experienced our share of sorrow along the way, especially the suicide of John’s son John. Our collective and individual faith in God has enabled us through good and bad days to move forward in life- and better understand God’s mercy and love.
Bringing this back to stewardship, I think you can tell that I feel I have truly been given much in my life. I have tried to serve the Church and God by service on the vestry, in the choir, and as a Sunday School teacher. My newest adventure is as a St. Mary’s acolyte. I know that there is much more that I can do in the future.
St. Mary’s is a perfect match for me in so many ways- too numerous to mention. I think you understand, after listening, about the importance to me of St. Mary’s mission of social justice. I hope that we all will support St. Mary’s in the way that we are able, and facilitate its important religious and social missions.
Reflections from our 2014 Stewardship Campaign
I’ve been worshiping here since the summer of 2012. I first came to St. Mary’s during a somewhat formative period for me: I had only recently become a committed Christian. I already knew Lee Ann and her daughter Nikki, and both were very welcoming. Additionally, all of you—the St. Mary’s congregation—impressed me in a way that congregations really never did. You cared, earnestly; you were interested in everyone who came in the door. Moses commands us to “love the stranger” and you did that.
The congregation’s size also appealed to me immensely; I had never experienced a small parish, and it reminded me of the house churches that Paul mentions in his letters. Both these things, the church’s kindness and its closeness, added to my feeling that St. Mary’s was a place where I might be encouraged, along with all of you, to do what I think all Christians are called to do: namely, to help build the Kingdom of God.
It’s been my goal to do this building, to place stones, in every aspect of my life: in my family; through art; and as a congregant in this community. I recently joined the vestry here, which has been a wonderful experience thus far; I occasionally take part in the music ministry: I wrote a hymn that we’ll sing together in January; and I also support the church monetarily with money that I put aside.
I would invite you, during the next month, to think about your role as a Christian in the church universal, as part of the communion of saints. Then consider what your role is, or what it might be, here in this specific community of St. Mary’s. What is God calling you to do? How might God work through you and in you?