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Stewardship Reflection - Mark Barrett 2012
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you today. For those of you who may not know me, my name is Mark Barrett and I chair the Stewardship Committee.
Before I go further I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support of the Spring Glen Church, our spiritual community. Without your efforts we could not be that community that Tara and I and the boys so look forward to being a part of. Thank you. Beyond your efforts are your warmth, your smiles and your caring. This congregation shares in the burdens of sorrow as well as the warmth of our joys. This is at the core of what defines us. You are what make Spring Glen Church special. Again, thank you.
We have many wonderful programs that help to support our vision. These programs all help us in some way to be stewards of our church and stewards of the word of the Lord.
One of the Stewardship Committee’s tasks is to communicate the financial needs with respect to fulfilling the wants of the congregation.
Too often I think the stewardship committee is approached as a “we need money committee.” I’d like to think of the committee’s role more as a communicator. So I do need to share some information this morning.
This year our Stewardship theme is “complete the puzzle.” You know, when you have a puzzle at home but can’t find the last piece how frustrating that could be. What may be a beautiful mosaic or simply the fulfillment of a challenge is left incomplete by that single missing piece. It is no different with the puzzle representing where we want to be as a church and congregation. Each and every one of us not only completes the puzzle but shape the puzzle. Every year, we decide what the shape of our puzzle will be. I am asking for you assistance to complete the puzzle and have no missing pieces.
The Stewardship committee is mailing out informational packets with pledge cards. There will be information regarding our expenses and incomes. And we’ll outline what is needed in order to retain the programs we have today. We’ve told the Trustees that we will try to get as much information as possible, as quickly as possible in order to give them a sense of the decisions that will need - the shape of the puzzle if you will. This year we will be asking for any responses if you are able to give them rather than waiting until November.
We’ve already mailed out about a quarter of the pledge information packets and have begun receiving responses. Thank you so much to those who have responded so quickly and so generously. These responses are represented by the puzzle pieces we have added here. We’ll continue with our mailings and add to the puzzle each week until, by God’s grace, our puzzle or picture is clear and complete. As with any puzzle, each piece is integral and unique just as each of us are integral and uniquely positioned to shape our future.
“Stewardship moments” are generally thought of as an opportunity for people to speak more of their personal experiences and we’ll see that over the coming weeks. Having the opportunity to work with a group of committee members who are so committed to our community of faith is inspiring. It has inspired me to read much more literature and bible verse than I otherwise would. I reflect on how fortunate and fulfilled I am to have been able to serve on the Stewardship committee. I think, on a personal level, I’ve gained some level of enlightenment or understanding. This has profoundly impacted what stewardship means to me. These are personal reflections but I can say I have become a joyful steward.
I am indebted to you all for the opportunity to serve you all as we serve God.
Again, thank you all for allowing me time to share my thoughts.
Stewardship Reflection - Nick Appleby 2012
When Mark asked me if I could speak today, he said, “just talk about what Spring Glen Church means to you.” Well, okay – how much time have you got? Spring Glen Church means a lot to me. But I have a confession to make. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit to you now that back when Bethany and I first started coming to Spring Glen, I really didn’t fully “get” what this church is all about. At the time, I didn’t realize that I didn’t get it – we were very happy here, we made friends, we’d come to church most Sundays and then hang out for a little while at coffee hour – but then we went home, and that was it until next Sunday, when we’d do it all over again. Of course, I knew that there were other things going on at church during the week, but you know, it’s very easy to find excuses not to get involved. I’d always find ways to be busy, when something would come along that I was afraid might cut into my precious time.
Then something happened that changed everything for me – I auditioned for a play. The play was Harvey, and I ended up getting the role of Dr. Sanderson. And it was fun, a lot of fun, and I made some wonderful new friends in the process. But then something else happened that I didn’t expect. I found that I was having more and more conversations with people around church, folk that I didn’t really know, maybe knew the faces but had never spoken with them – and suddenly we were chatting about the play. Little silver-haired old ladies would come up to me and wink and say “It’s time for my checkup, doctor.” That play opened doors for me that I hadn’t been able to find before. And gradually I became aware of that kind of warmth and community that is at the heart this church, that somehow I’d been missing up till then. And it was a wonderful thing.
Over the years since then, I’ve been in many plays at Spring Glen. I’ve been a fireman, a lunatic, an eccentric xylophone player, a Brazilian sailor, a vampire-obsessed womanizer (that was a fun one). And over those years, the church became more and more a central focus of my life. I started to try to make myself more useful - volunteering for committees, helping set up for events, like Rock & Blues Night, working on the church website, and so on. And the funny thing was, it really didn’t feel like I was giving up my time - it didn’t feel like I was giving anything up. Instead I felt like I was gaining something, this whole new community, this new family. And the more I became involved in the life of the church, the more the church gave back to me.
I’ve seen others experience the same thing at Spring Glen. When we did Godspell, which was an incredibly powerful emotional experience, so many people put so much time and energy into it. And you could see how much they gained from the experience. The best example of that was my friend Todd, who played guitar in the Godspell band. He was going through a really rough time back then; a very dear friend had died unexpectedly and he was having a lot of trouble coping. He joined us for the production of Godspell thinking that it might take his mind off his grief - and basically he was blow away by what he found when he came into our community – that warmth, that feeling of community. He still talks about it, he feels that it really saved him back then. It really was a life-changing thing for him.
There is something about Spring Glen Church that has that effect on people. There is something magical about this place. I’m sorry that it took me a while to figure that out for myself, but I’m very glad that I finally did. Spring Glen has done so much for me over the years. For the little I’ve given of myself to the church, it has given me so much more in return – and I hope I will be able to find ways to try to make myself useful here for a long time to come.
Stewardship Reflection - Karlee Etter 2012
Looking from the outside, Spring Glen Church, is simply another of many neighborhood churches in Hamden. But, this church is SO MUCH more than just a building. Growing up, my best friend Holly Shank shared weekly reports about the inspirational worship services, the fabulous choir, the fun Sunday School and ongoing family activities. Oh, yeah and the tremendous theater productions! Even back then, Spring Glen Church stood out above all others; there was something special about this church. But I wouldn’t figure out exactly what that meant until years later.
I grew up at Mt. Carmel Congregational Church. However, it seems, even as a child, God was leading me down a path I wasn’t even aware of; preparing me for my future adoption into the Spring Glen Church family. The first step on that new path was when Mt.Carmelhired me as Director of Christian Education
The next step down that path brought me to Spring Glen Church as Director of Christian Education. A few months later, I felt as if I had always been part of Spring Glen Church and transferred my membership. For the next eight years, I worked as DCE. Clearly, God’s hand and spirit was active in my life. But God wasn’t working alone; he had all his shepherds and sheep here to tenderly guide this timid, and new-found little sheep (me) down the path. At first, it wasn’t too difficult to stay the course, because I was encouraged by every member of this church family. My confidence grew in leaps and bounds, I discovered creative talents I didn’t know I had, and reconnected with my love of acting, and, eventually made the decision to go back to college to earn my BA. I was growing and changing spiritually, personally and professionally. Now, God’s all-encompassing plans were evident. It was exciting and terrifying! Had it not been for your love and nurturing, I would have faltered, especially when my marriage began to collapse.
Had it not been for all of you, my children and I would have been dismal causalities of divorce. But here, during that difficult time, there was NOT one harsh word passing judgment. Here were friends for us to confide in, to give us hugs just because they knew we needed one, and tender words to provide strength and comfort. But ABOVE <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />ALL, there was Richard Smith, one of God’s angels here on earth. Richard took my frightened, seven-year old son under his wings and provided Michael with a guiding role-model who taught him respect, unconditional love, and the gift of a sense of humor. At a very critical point in my young son’s life, every one of you contributed to some aspect of the fine young man he is today.
Of course, every family needs a place to gather; Spring Glen Church is an extraordinary presence here in the community. Even the building itself, has a special place in my heart, and not just because of our theatrical productions, nor worship or the touching Christmas Eve service. Years ago, I struggled with the difficult decision whether to file for divorce or not and endured many sleepless nights. One morning at about 1 a.m., I got in my car, drove through the dark, silent streets of Hamdento church. I let myself in (as the DCE, I had my own key) and sat alone, here in the dark sanctuary, and basked in the quiet and silence. Then, I had a melt-down; the tears came in such huge gasps that if anyone had heard me, they would have thought I was choking. My soul was mourning for my failed marriage. But, I felt God here, crying for and with me.
As I sat trying to recover lost courage, I noticed a soft glow bathing the darkness; the street lights on Whitney Avenuewere shining through the windows. As I sat focusing on the silhouette of the large cross on the wall, the sanctuary grew a little brighter because the brilliant full moon had moved out from behind thick clouds. And at that moment, I realized that as difficult as it was to carry that burden, I was NOT alone! I didn’t have to carry that unbearable weight all by myself because I was surrounded by my loving family and friends here at church.
Over the years, my life has had its share of additional burdens and crises. The most recent was the unexpected and sudden death of my mother in July. Even then, in the midst of summer vacations, you were here for me. Within an hour of my mother’s passing, as I sat in the Emergency Room with a Counselor, Carol Shank moved beyond her own grief and called to check on me. And Pastor Jeff was the first person to call me the next morning, having been told by Doug Hawthorne of my mother’s passing. Then later that morning, Pastor Jeff and Pastor Clare sat with me for a good while to listen and pray. Once again, I didn’t have to carry the burden alone, because you were all there for me.
I am truly blessed to part of this family and so very thankful that God’s path led to this door.