On the Shoulders of Giants - Stewardship 2018
By: Rev'd Dr. Johnny Jeffords
St. John’s is a community of faith with a long history. We’re grateful for the witness of those who’ve gone before us. It is their stories and their faithfulness to the mission of the Church that gives us this moment for St. John’s to be what it is here and now.
Consider, there was a time when St. John’s:
- Had to decide whether to relocate out east or stay in midtown. St. John’s chose to stay.
- Had to decide whether to be resurrected as a Servant Church or die as a pale reflection of what it once was, as one of the great churches of the past.
- Had to overcome the prevailing winds of prejudice and racism to welcome gladly people of color into the St. John’s family.
- Had to decide whether to support the dream and vision of healthcare for the working poor brought by a young minister/physician from Atlanta.
- Had to decide to host a dinner for those living with HIV/AIDS and those who love those living with it during a time of great fear and uncertainty.
- Had to decide to make ministries of recovery a defining characteristic of its witness.
- Had to decide to move from a generalized welcome for LGBTQ disciples to overt advocacy for full inclusion within The United Methodist Church.
These are but a few of the moments of St. John’s history in which the congregation, as it was then, made faithful decisions. The fruits of which now bring us to this moment in our history. They are giants on whose shoulders we stand in 2018.
Our Stewardship emphasis for this season will focus on many of these people and their considerable contributions. There is value in being aware of their stories. They once sat in the pews we occupy now. They prayed, sang, fellowshipped, studied scripture, and worshipped where we do now. Some of these giants are still with us, and we should know who they are. They were confronted with the same questions we are now: “Who shall we be and what shall we do for a time such as this?”
Over the balance of October, we will hear their stories. On November 4, All Saints’ Sunday, we will offer our stewardship commitments for the financing of our ministries in 2019. The finance committee will be putting together our proposed budget for the coming year. All indications at present reveal financial pressures going forward. We need to increase our giving as we contract our budget to meet all our obligations. More information about that will come closer to Commitment Sunday.
We hear the stories of these St. John’s giants for many reasons. Chief among them is the realization that for this time and place in the life of St. John’s, and the whole of The United Methodist Church, the decisions we make about our life together and our witness to the community will reverberate across the years. There will come a time, say 25 years from now, when disciples who worship at the corner at Peabody and Bellevue will consider the faithfulness of those who worshipped here in 2018. Ours will be the shoulders on which they’ll stand. Let’s leave them a prophetic, faithful, and welcoming witness to embrace as their own.
Series Art by Emily Harvey, EmKat Design