Step Up

Happy New Year! 

Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody paid us to keep our New Year’s Resolutions?  I’ve got at least 10 pounds to lose and should be drinking more water; both by day and night.  And about that exercise thing … Our annual resolutions are a candid admission of things we know we should be doing, but just don’t feel like it! 

At Advent, the basic measure of health of the Church is our Annual Canvass.  Jim Palic and his team go out into the parish and ask the congregation to evidence its support of the Church, its mission and its ministries.  The annual goal is a summation of what the leaders of these ministries would like to do in the coming year.  The canvass represents Advent’s new year resolution. 

The Stewardship Committee reports that some 193 parishioners answered the call and provided about $500,000 in core operating support to Advent and its mission.  This is significantly less than the goal of $580,000, and smaller than the amount pledged last year.  Given the significant impact this shortfall will have on the 2018 budget, the Vestry has asked Stewardship to make a second appeal to the congregation. 

As a special incentive to increase your pledge or make a special one-time gift, I am pleased to announce that two anonymous donors have “Stepped Up” and offered a challenge to parishioners.  For every new dollar pledged, these donors will provide another dollar up to a total of $40,000.  Successfully meeting this challenge will mean that Advent has achieved its original budget goal. 

This matching gift opportunity will run until January 29th, after which the Vestry will approve the 2018 Budget based on whatever resources have been provided.  Here are some matching gift ideas:  

Appreciated stock – the market has never been higher, give some to Advent!  

IRA distributions – If you don’t need your annual required distribution, give it to Advent! 

“Step Up” to the next level of weekly/monthly/annual giving – you would be amazed at how even a small increase accumulates over the course of a year! 

If you would like to help meet this challenge, please call or write Kathy in the Church office (610) 444-4624 or Kgebhart23@yahoo.com.  Your financial support is a tangible expression of your faith and commitment to Church of the Advent.  Together, we are making Christ visible, changing lives, and making a difference! 

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.”  1 Peter 4:10 ESV 

  

Your Obedient Servant, 

Collis O. Townsend 

Development Warden 

 

From Our Senior Warden

Have you heard, it’s Christmas! We have all been busy preparing for this exiting time of year. Wrapping gifts, planning menus, and oh yes preparing for the arrival of Jesus. With all these activities I know you don’t want to read some long diatribe from the senior warden so I will make this short.

We at Advent have so many things to be thankful for at this time of year. We have great clergy, great volunteers, wonderful support staff and beautiful grounds. We worship every week in a warm comfortable building while the winds of winter or the humidity of summer make the outside so uncomfortable.

Sad to say some in our community do not share the same comforts that we at Advent have come to expect. As we host family promise this week it makes me sad to think that in this land of plenty we have children spending the most joyous time of year in a church basement. I know it’s better to be in a church than not have any place to lay your head but I am sure thankful I’m not in that situation. How about you? Children are precious gifts to be loved and protected from the harsh realities of life. They will have plenty of time when they get older to experience the cruelty of the world. Mary and Joseph were given refuge in a stable and Jesus was born. Our parish has opened its doors to provide refuge for a few in our community who have no place to go. Thank you to the volunteers who make this happen. Keep the spirit of Christ in your love for these families.

I want to thank our vestry for their time and energy they put forth working through the issues facing Advent. We are looking forward and not focusing on the past. All though we may not agree on everything we acknowledge our differences and continue to move forward for the benefit of the church.

Thank you to all members who have supported the church through volunteering and financial support. We cannot continue to support the program without your support.

Merry Christmas and wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.

George James

Sr. Warden

A Word From Our People's Warden

The Episcopal (Anglican) Church recognizes “threefold sources of authority:” scripture, tradition and reason (see https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/authority-sources-anglicanism for a brief description of this). For members of Advent, this suggests that we need to be familiar with the scripture and traditions of the church while bringing reason and discernment to our understanding. Doing this is not reserved for Sunday School and Confirmation Class. It is an on-going challenge that is key to our formation as children of God. Our knowledge and love of Christ is not a static thing set in concrete at confirmation; rather it should be seen as an evolving, growing appreciation of the simplicity and complexity of God’s covenant with his people. It is a path to understanding the deep truths of scripture without being in conflict when our other knowledge and experience questions the “facts.”

So it is important that we all devote some time to study of the scriptures, to understanding our traditions and how they have evolved, and to accepting our responsibility to bring reason to our studies so that we may discern hard truths instead of demanding simple rules.

Attending Sunday worship is a first step to this. The readings and the sermons, the traditional words of the liturgy, all help us review what we know and gain fresh insights. It is also an important part of following the commandment to love God with all our hearts, minds and souls.

A second step is to make some kind of on-going study a part of our spiritual journey. Reading the Bible and using the Book of Common Prayer in our personal devotions is one way to explore the scriptures and traditions. But God also calls us to be in community and to learn from one another. So the Formation team is working to invigorate our adult education program. For those who are available on weekdays, Pastor Nancy is leading a Bible study at 11AM on Wednesday. The group is currently discussing the Gospel of Mark. Join us whenever you can for interesting discussions and insight. Immediately following the Bible study, we share in a Healing Eucharist service in the chapel

We plan to offer Bible study during the 9:15 class hour on Sunday mornings, hoping that this time will work for many, and we are open to other ways to create opportunities to meet and study the scriptures. What we need is your time and talents to contribute to this program. A first organizational session will be on November 19 In the St. Nicholas Room. Please join us and help us design a program that will enable us all grow in our faith.

Answering God's Call

On October 29th, the Missional Ministry Team met with the Reverend Bill Cruse following the 10:15 service to discuss the next steps in our work with the Kaleidoscope Institute. 

            “How do we know we are on the right track with the development of  our new                            ministry?”- Question from the  Oct 29 Event

We thought it fitting to talk about the October 29th event with Reverend Bill Cruse by starting where it ended. The question above was the last one asked before we ended the event. Reverend Cruse answered this question simply. We will know that we are on the ‘right track’, because the Holy Spirit will flow through it. The ministry will be both inward – befitting those here in our Parish and outward- benefitting those who are not direct members of our Parish. The ministry will be sustainable over time. Finally, we will experience reciprocity- we will be blessed with further benefits through the Holy Currencies.

             “Church of the Advent has a fantastic music ministry, both for
            adults and children. They sing praise to God and they work
            together in relationship.”
                        - summarized from Oct 29 Event

Reverend Cruse helped guide us through the process of understanding the results of the Wellness Event we held on October 1st. He also educated us on how to create and prepare to answer God’s call to ministry.  This will help our not only our own congregation, but also the  greater community around our Church.

            “We have a strong lay visitation ministry. These are dedicated people that visit those in need within our congregation and build much needed relationships.”

                                    - summarized from Oct 29 Event

The question that came out of the October 1st Wellness Event was “How can we begin to form relationships that will help our community?” That’s a loaded question, and it does not have a simple answer. It didn’t even seem to have a beginning.  Reverend Cruse told us that it really begins with the most simple of acts. It begins with “hello”. It’s how we all choose to listen to one another after the initial contact that makes the difference. The listening is where the relationship begins.

            “Our Altar Guild is a dedicated group of people who work together
            every week. They welcome new members gladly and are proud of
            the work they do for our Church, together.”

                        - summarized from Oct 29 Event

 No matter where we are, internally, or externally in the wide world, we need to pay attention and listen. Not just stand or sit and listen passively. We must listen with care, and with curiosity. It helps to ask clarifying questions- showing we want to know more about the other person. And, when talking is appropriate, give feedback, share and confirm to the other person that you are listening.

            “Our Ushers and Greeters have transformed into a more relationship-
            oriented ministry. They talk to the people they give leaflets to. They ask
            about the person who needs a gluten free wafer. They try to make people
            that come through our  door feel like they are welcome.”

                        - summarized from Oct 29 Event

The Ushers, the Greeters, the Altar Guild, and the Music Ministry are in their nature task driven ministries. There is a job to get done. Most of the time, we are a church of doers. We get things done. However, when we recognize that we should be doing tasks together, listening to and for each other, that is when tasks become relationship-driven. We start to do the work, because we like it, not because we simply have to just get a job done.

             ”We have a wonderful Funeral Reception Ministry. It is all about
              building relationships, something that is very important for a family who
              just lost a loved one. We welcome the families and help them
              with these important tasks.”

                           - summarized from Oct 29 Event

We need to reach outside of our Church community.   How do we know this? The Holy Spirit offered us opportunities and we embraced them. We have begun to form relationships with St. Michael’s Church to combine and improve our Youth Programs. So far, the response has been tremendous. At least 40 youth per night (two times a month). The service projects they are undertaking is impressive.  They have helped with community clean ups and packed 25,000 meals for RISE against Hunger.  As a congregation, we have also had a chance to begin the process of forming relationships with the Kennett Adult Literacy Program. Through discussions with the leadership of the literacy program over the summer, we discovered that the program needed space to meet.  This space that was much more valuable than any check we would have been able to write, and so we offered the unused Sunday School rooms for weekday classes.

Reverend Cruse also gave us information on Planned Change. This planning is the ground work to cultivating a new ministry that will help us build future relationships. The Missional Ministry Team plans to begin working on this process together.  

We have many vital ministries within our Church and so many caring people. We have a responsibility to share the abundance of our blessings with others who need it.  It seems fair to say that we have already received many signs that we are on the right track!

Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us on Sunday for this very powerful event!

~ The Missional Ministry Team

           

 

Live Your Faith

 

Helping with the Rummage Sale is like watching the Bible come alive. You might think that the Bible is not relevant to life today but working the Rummage Sale for 20 years has shown me the Bible is a living breathing how-to manual!

I have been blessed with this work for 20 years now and have worked alongside of some amazing people. I have seen folks come in and tell us that they needed clothes for hospital treatments, and we have been able to help them out. We have been able to help the homeless in Chester. We have been able to help the mission of Family Promise.

A few years ago a woman came into the Fall Rummage Sale and picked up what looked like a plain plastic looking toy. She had tears in her eyes and asked if it was really for sale. We assured her it was and this toy turned out to be some really desirable toy she couldn’t afford for her son’s Christmas gift. That was such a great feeling to allow someone who truly appreciated the things we have!

The best thing that ever happened to me there was the story that Mark tells (Mark 12:43) came to life. Two ladies came in and purchased their items. They had to leave to go to their job picking mushrooms, but they gave us $2.50 extra and said it was “for the church.” Those two ladies gave more generously than most of us.

Nothing is ever wasted, and when the sale is over everything goes on to a new destination. Clothes are taken to the Orphan Grain Train, a Lutheran Mission which ships it all over to wherever there is need.

We welcome any help and your efforts will be very much appreciated!

Tori Robinso