An Invitation from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry to Practice the Way of Love

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God
— Ephesians 3:17-19  

In the first century Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called “church” or “Christian,” this Jesus Movement was simply called “the way.” 

 

Today I believe our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. But how can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world? 

The deep roots of our Christian tradition may offer just such a path. For centuries, monastic communities have shaped their lives around rhythms and disciplines for following Jesus together. Such a pattern is known as a “Rule of Life.” The framework you now hold – The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life – outlines a Rule for the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. 

It is designed to be spare and spacious, so that individuals, ministry groups, congregations, and networks can flesh it out in unique ways and build a church-wide treasure trove of stories and resources. There is no specific order you need to follow. If you already keep a Rule or spiritual disciplines, you might reflect and discover how that path intersects with this one. By entering into reflection, discernment and commitment around the practices of Turn - Learn - Pray - Worship - Bless - Go - Rest, I pray we will grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus. His way has the power to change each of our lives and to change this world. 

Your brother in the Way of Jesus, 

+Michael 
The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church 

 

All About the Vestry

In the Episcopal Church, the Vestry is a board of lay people who serve the local church in many ways. Their primary responsibility is to serve as stewards of the resources of the church, that is, the property and finances. They also have a roll in choosing a new rector when that position is vacant. In many churches, as at Advent, the vestry supports the clergy and staff by overseeing or leading program activities. The vestry thus has important roles in the ministry and mission of the church.

Our vestry members are elected to three year terms and can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. Occasionally members find they must resign for a variety of reasons. The vestry can vote to fill the term with another person, or leave the position empty until the next annual meeting. The vestry can also change the number of vestry members with a minimum of nine and a maximum of 15.

The vestry usually meets once a month. The meeting times are published and any member of the church may attend the meeting. Occasionally the meeting will be adjourned to a vestry-only, confidential discussion of personnel issues.

At every meeting the finances of the church are reviewed. The treasurer presents the results of the previous month and the members have a chance to see whether any corrections are needed. This helps us stay on track for budgets and allows us to review and respond to any unexpected expenses. The vestry members also provide reports on the committees they serve when there is something that impacts the church and requires vestry action or if there is an opportunity for different committees to collaborate on an activity. This allows all vestry members to be aware of the activities, successes and issues of the church.

Vestry members serve the church. They are not elected to represent a particular point of view or mission, but to represent the best interests of the church as a whole. But Advent is a church with different viewpoints and diverse enthusiasms for mission, so controversial decisions do have to be made. We ask vestry members to respectfully listen to and reflect on the different opinions offered, and then to vote their consciences for what they believe is best for Advent. Once a decision is made, all members must support the decision, even if they didn’t agree with it.

As I finish my second term on vestry, I have been reflecting on the challenges that the vestry has faced and at what we have achieved. I am grateful for the chance to work with so many fine people to help Advent move forward on its mission and for the opportunity to know so much more about the ministries that are Advent. I am thankful to have been able to serve, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of the new vestry. The slate of candidates will be published on March 31 and the elections will be at the Annual Meeting on April 28. Please join us on Sunday, April 14th when you will be able to meet the candidates.

Stewardship

Life is a journey.  Advent is where you and your family come through good times and bad.  It’s more than just a place, it’s a community.  When we gather and sing hymns, we celebrate our faith and feel good!  You are loved and are an important part of this family.  

 

Last Sunday, Kim Hoeschel led an impressive “End of Life” seminar.  The core message was to start a dialog with your family.  While death is a part of life, it’s not the fun part.  Leaving your loved ones an organized binder of critical information is a tremendous gift.  Health care directives, a financial roadmap, funeral instructions and gifts to the church and community.  Order your binder today - $30! 

 

As Development Warden, I am working on laying the groundwork for a successful capital campaign.  Advent has conducted an evaluation of our capital needs for the next fifteen years and found that some $1.7 million will be need for everything from a new roof to parking lots.  It’s important to understand that we are not seeking a shiny temple on the hill – it is to better meet your needs.  We need more people to actively use our church. 

 

Growing the church is Advent’s core challenge.  We have to find more ways to get out into the community and Make Christ Visible!  This can be both through volunteerism and evangelism.   A couple of ideas have been floated: hosting a pancake breakfast on opening day of KAU Little League, walking in the Memorial Day parade and ending with an Advent parking lot picnic.  Fun is infectious! 

 

How can Advent better meet your needs?  How can we best help others?  What gifts do you have to share?  We are all on this journey together. 

 

Your obedient servant, 

Collis  

Development Warden 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent: Ramp Up Instead of Give Up

 

Our wonderful Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper was March 5 and we enjoyed a fun (and high calorie) opportunity as one last fling before Lent began the next day (Ash Wednesday).  Many of us look for things to “give up” during Lent to remind us that being open to God’s word requires time and effort.  The longing for chocolate or that donut is not to make you self-righteous but to remind you to put aside your self-focus and to focus on God.  Perhaps this is the year to focus not on sacrificing our pleasures, but to adding time and energy for spiritual growth.   

 

One simple thing to try is to switch up your service attendance.  If you usually sleep in on Sunday and then hit the 10:15 service, try getting up early to experience the quiet, contemplative 7:45 service.  The words of Rite I may not be familiar, but hearing the service in different language can help you hear the truth in a new way.  If your family enjoys the fast pace of 8:45, consider coming to the 10:15 service for a change.  Encourage children to go to Children’s Chapel (they usually love it) and take the opportunity to hear all of that Sunday’s lectionary as well as the full sermon.  You may also enjoy having more music in the service.  Kids can sit through the longer form of the Great Thanksgiving, and we don’t mind if they color or squirm during communion. We are a family and our children are precious members.  Share them with the later congregation.  And if you are a 7:45 regular, try one of the other services.  The energy and enthusiasm, the music and the pomp, can all add to the worship experience.    

 

Other Lenten opportunities include the Lenten Suppers.  This year we will offer a choice of programs after our dinner.  Ellen Davies will lead a group in meditation and mindfulness.  The other program will be focusing on and learning about the Five Marks of Mission.  It is an opportunity to think about your own mission for God in our world.  And if evangelism makes you uncomfortable, come on March 17 at 9:15 to learn about St. Patrick and how he brought Christ’s story to the Irish without changing all aspects of their lively culture.  Also, on April 7, we will be talking about the Stations of the Cross and studying the wonderful pictures we have to help with our Holy Week experience of the terrible death Jesus suffered for us.  You can’t have Easter without Good Friday.   

 

Finally, plan to ramp up your experience of Lent and Holy Week by being present at as many of the special services as you can.  Walk with Jesus and his disciples as they go from spiritual growth to triumphal certainty to confusion and despair.  Then you will be ready for the great Easter cry of “Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia.”    

 

Bryan Bente 

Securing and Growing Advent’s Endowment 

 

Over the past 10 years, prudent management of Advent’s endowment fund has enabled it to grow from $1.6 million in 2009 to $2.4 today.  The management of our church’s endowment is guided by policies that specify how the endowment fund is governed.  The rules cover investment policy, withdraws, spending of endowment proceeds and oversight.   These policies secure the gifts that generous parishioners have given to Advent’s endowment so that the endowment fund is able to support the work of our church now and in the future. 

Investment Policy: 

The investment goals for the endowment are to safeguard the principal while growing the funds and generating income.  These goals are detailed in the investment policy statement which ensures that the endowment fund committee members and the professional investment managers at Merrill Lynch share a clear understanding of these investment goals.   

Withdraws: 

For the General Endowment, the Peterson Leadership Endowment, the Memorial Garden Endowment, the Rector’s Discretionary Fund and the Music Concert Fund, a three year running average of the fund value as of September 30th is calculated.  The vestry can elect to take up to 5% of that average value on all funds except the Music Concert Fund which can be up to 10%.  The annual draw from the Sanford Fund is calculated by the investment manager at Merrill Lynch and can only come from accumulated interest and dividends.  

Expenditures:   

Proceeds from the endowment may only be spent on budgetary items that align with the particular fund.  For example, proceeds from the Sanford Fund are only spent on formation for children and youth.  Proceeds from the Memorial Garden Endowment are only spent on memorial garden expenses.  Proceeds from the General Endowment are not restricted and can be spent as the vestry sees fit.  Advent’s treasurer and finance warden ensure that endowment proceeds are properly spent.  Audits confirm correct expenditures of endowment proceeds.    

Management and Oversight: 

The endowment fund committee, established in 1996, has responsibility for the proper management of the endowment.  The vestry has oversight of the endowment fund committee through approval of the chair and members of the committee.  The rector and the development warden are also committee members.  The endowment fund committee works with the professional investment advisors at Merrill Lynch to review investments, requests withdraws subject to the policies outlined above, reviews audits to ensure that endowment proceeds are spent according to guidelines, and works to develop and grow the endowment.   

Reporting: 

In Advent’s annual report, the chair of the endowment fund committee reports to the parish the fund value, withdraws, gifts, committee members and any other relevant endowment information.   

The governance structure of the endowment has successfully managed the endowment for the past 23 years.  Over these years, the endowment funds have grown through wise investment strategy and additional gifts while annual proceeds have contributed to Advent’s mission.  The strong governance structure will ensure continued careful management of the endowment now and into the future.   

   

Faithfully, 

 Kim Hoeschel for the Endowment Fund Committee: Pete Peterson, Ann Dome, Larry Bosley, Penn Yeatman and Stuart Davies; and Collis Townsend, Development Warden 

   

January 26, 2019