Early one weekday morning this past summer, I happened to swing by the church on some errand. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a small group of people gathered at the edge of the lot near the park. They were neatly dressed and groomed, clearly ready to go to work. Before I could get out of the car, another vehicle pulled in, with several bicycles on a rack. The group swarmed towards the other car, whose driver got out and began to distribute the bicycles.
As I got out of my car, two people peeled off from the small group and approached me, assuming I was with the other driver. The man asked if I could help repair the bike he was riding. The woman practically begged if I could possibly get her moved up the waiting list to get a bicycle.
I was witnessing the work of Holy Spokes, a group of volunteers who repair bicycles and give them to homeless individuals who use the bikes to ride to jobs. For the past two years, Holy Spokes has used Ledyard Hall, the Lower Level, and the Jefferson Avenue Parking lot as a place to store bikes they were working on and to do the repairs. I had heard vaguely about Holy Spokes, but until that morning I had not seen the intensity of the demand – and the gratitude – from those who receive the bicycles.
Holy Spokes isn’t one of the major ministries of Christ Church Detroit. Many of us in the church are barely aware of it. But then, we may not be aware of the city’s longest-running AA group, which meets in Cary Lounge, or the small Gamblers Anonymous group that also meets in Ledyard. These are just a few of the many, many ministries we support by providing a warm space, a roof to keep the rain off their heads, and more. These groups may seem minor in the life of the church, but they are monumental to the people they serve.
Christ Church is able to support these ministries because we maintain the buildings, pay the utilities, and hire the staff needed to coordinate the varied activities on our campus seven days a week. With spirits renewed each Sunday with vibrant worship, music, and fellowship, we can go out each week prepared, to quote the blessing Rev. Emily often offers, to “make haste to be kind.”
This year’s annual stewardship campaign coincides with the capital campaign. You may be asking why the church is asking for two different gifts.
The answer is because the church will spend the money in two very different ways.
The capital campaign will fund repairs and enhancements of the buildings that enable various ministries and missions now and into the future. For example, we can’t host concerts in our sanctuary if the floor is caving in. We can’t provide a room to GA if that room is flooded. And we can’t envision new food ministries until we upgrade our 65-year-old, Medicare-eligible kitchen. The capital campaign therefore is about preparing the buildings we’ve received as a bequest from past parishioners so those buildings can serve the future of the church. You’ll be hearing more from the capital campaign about the possibilities we see in the future – if we invest in the necessary upkeep on our buildings today.
Annual pledges, on the other hand, are about the here and now. Your weekly pledges and offerings pay for the people and other resources that operate our ministries. For example, the church recently hired a new staffer to support the education ministry. The money you give in 2023 will pay for such mundane but necessary expenses as heating the sanctuary in the winter, printing weekly bulletins, live-streaming worship services, purchasing cleaning supplies, paying our rector, and so on.
Traditionally, stewardship experts say that capital campaign donations often come from parishioners’ investments, while annual giving comes from their income. That may or may not be the case for your household. Ultimately, it all comes from the same place: the blessings that God has given each of us.
Your willingness to tell the church how much you plan to give to each campaign helps our church leadership to plan responsibly for the coming year and years. We fully understand that times are uncertain for many of us. But if you have an amount in mind to give in 2023, it would help the church enormously if you would communicate that amount on the enclosed pledge card. Your pledge is an educated guess as to what you’ll be able to give. Situations may change for better or worse, and if your giving later needs to change from what you tell us now, we will understand – simply let the church office know if that happens. Even if you aren’t absolutely sure how your 2023 will turn out, please submit a pledge, turning it in on or before the in-gathering day of November 20th, Christ the King Sunday.
Finally, please keep Christ Church and its leadership in your prayers. We continue to navigate a new path post-pandemic, as old patterns shift and new ways to minister and serve Christ in all peoples emerge. The church – both Christ Church Detroit and God’s wider church – needs your thoughts and prayers, but it also needs more tangible gifts in order to fulfill its mission.
Yours in Christ,
Jim Treece, Stewardship Committee Chair