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October 31, 2013

Indaba and Stewardship

by Admin

Following the launch day of the New York Indaba on September 28th 2013 Mary O’Shaughnessy of St Luke-in-the-fields found herself rethinking what stewardships might mean in light of Indaba.  

On Friday afternoon, I had been pretty sure what I was intending to say today. But after I listened to Bishop Dietsche’s remarks at the Cathedral yesterday [Saturday], I turned to Father Gabe and said, “The bishop just blew up my stewardship talk.”

We–Father Gabe; Theresa Goldsborough, and I–were at the opening session of the diocesan Indaba process. “Indaba” refers to a continuing conversation of listening and learning, among groups of lay and clergy representatives from sets of 3 diverse parishes–in our case, a suburban New Rochelle parish, and a rural church in Orange County. This is a parochial manifestation of our stewardship campaign slogan, “Connect and commit.”

What does Indaba have to do with stewardship?

IMG_7496Quite a lot. We call ourselves “Anglo-Catholic;” “Catholic” means that we do not live unto ourselves as a congregation, but that we have real ties to our brother and sister Christians in the life of Jesus Christ.

The stewardship we engage in here at St. Luke’s–the commitment of our time, talent, and treasure–is visible in our infrastructure of buildings, with electricity, running water, and staff, that our pledges support. It’s visible in our outreach programs that, although funded separately, are the product of many people’s time and talent, and could not exist without our real estate and our location. Those, given as a gift from Queen Anne to Trinity in 1684, and to us in 1820, are a sheer gift. No one here did anything to acquire this land. It is our responsibility and our pleasure to preserve and use all these resources.

But our stewardship here reaches out to the good of the wider church. There is much that St. Lukers do that is not visible on Sunday morning.

Our assessment–the money we contribute to the diocese–helps keep lights on, toilets flushing, and clergy serving around the diocese. St. Luke’s parishioners and clergy serve on a variety of diocesan committees. These include the Adjustment Board, to help parishes in financial difficulty and the LGBT concerns committee. I am part of the biennial Acolyte Festival, which draws attendees from many of the poorest parishes in the diocese. Over the years, St. Luke’s has fostered vocations of priests, scholars, and other church servants. We have participated in the formation of dozens of seminarians from all over the church.

Now–this can lead to our “marinating in our own magnificence.”

We are very proud of our block, our clergy, our amazing music, and we are proud of our good works.

We live in a bit of a “glossy bubble.” We are also, as Bishop Dietsche puts it, in a silo. I would posit that we are also in internal silos within St. Luke’s–service by service; social group by social group; committee by committee.

fall dinnerWe can fall into assumptions about St. Luke’s and St. Lukers, because we think we know everything there is to know about our own parish. Be wary of that.

The Indaba process is challenging us to listen and learn humbly from parishes across chasms of location, class, ethnicity, and worship style. I suggest that in praying over our use of time, talent, and treasure internally here at St. Luke’s, we each examine what “silos” we might have built.

Examine and pray about the possibilities of changing up your worship time, your volunteer patterns, and see what else God might have in mind for you.

We “are to do good, to be rich in good works, gentleness, and ready to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18)

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