Contributed by Jim Treece, Stewardship Chair
What follows is the letter sent to the parish as our 2021 Stewardship Appeal
I’m grateful for the unexpected abundance I’ve seen at Christ Church Detroit over the past year. Again and again, when we thought we were blocked in some way due to the pandemic, we discovered that we had a surprising depth of resources or an unanticipated blessing to get us through, so we could serve Christ.
In particular, I’ve been amazed by an unexpected abundance of persistence and resilience, flexibility and creativity, and community. Maybe I’m more aware of those blessings because my inside seat as Vestry secretary allowed me to see more than most parishioners. Allow me to tell you some of what I’ve seen.
Our leaders have gone to greater lengths to serve than any of us might have expected. Pastor Emily and Senior Warden Denise Crenshaw made a point of attending almost every committee meeting, while overseeing several grant proposals – for racial-reconciliation classes and for upgrading our building to serve new ministries – and preparing for a much-needed capital campaign. Pastor Anthony added to his preaching and pastoral duties by becoming a volunteer chaplain to the Detroit Police Department, counselling and serving those who serve and protect. Finance Chair Jane Forbes and Treasurer Howard Matthew worked towards new levels of clarity and transparency in our finances, providing the Vestry with a better understanding of the money flows – from gifts today and bequests in the past – that support our missions.
The Buildings & Grounds Committee kept several major, critical projects on track. The much-needed Bell Tower repairs had been delayed repeatedly over the past five years, yet the B&G folks saw to it that Phase 1 was finished. Thanks to their persistence in the face of repeated obstacles, work on the sanctuary foundation moved ahead. We no longer have to rope off unsafe pews! When we had to move the pew cushions and kneelers out of the sanctuary in advance of the foundation work, worshippers one Sunday stepped up and got the job done.
Priests Emily, Anthony, and David, Music Director Ed, Floral Iconographer Richard, and our hard-working Altar Guild showed flexibility and creativity amid changes in venue: indoor and outside, sanctuary and Ledyard Hall. They faced delays in live-streaming of services and uncertainty about future guidelines for worship gatherings, yet consistently provided a worshipful setting where we could give thanks and glory to God. A cross-section of our diverse congregation met for a series of honest and hard discussions about race and how better to see Christ in everyone we meet. When the lower level suffered water damage and became unusable, the Christian Education team reimagined how to use our space, including Sibley House and the courtyard.
Members met members they didn’t know, and newcomers, via a virtual coffee hour. The faithful in our congregation and from far afield supported each other in online communities: the Drawing with a Tea class, Centering Prayer group, Pentecost readings, the Deep River Lenten program, and a recast Advent by Candlelight service. The 8:15 and 10:30 worshippers got to know each other better. Others met through gardening, and produced an abundance of tomatoes!
In 2022, I look forward to seeing how some of our unexpected abundance may blossom into new forms of church and ministry, particularly in our building and beyond, and in new forms of hospitality.
As we begin to meet in our buildings again, we’re seeing new ways to use and configure our space. Now that we know Ledyard Hall can be a beautiful little worship space, some members are suggesting that it become our summer worship venue. It’s cooler than the sanctuary, and “right-sized” for smaller gatherings. We can’t host Shelter Week as we used to, but the Outreach Committee is moving ahead with plans to support that ministry in new ways. Outreach also is coordinating renewed work teams at Gleaners, continued support for Crossroads and the Pope Francis Center, aid to Haiti after its recent earthquake, and a new initiative to support a family of Afghan refugees.
If you haven’t counted your blessings lately, do so. I suspect you’ll find that you, too, found unexpected abundance in your life this year. I invite you to pray about it and give thanks to our Redeemer God, from whom all good gifts come.
This is an active church, directing its unexpected abundance into missions that serve our members, our community, and the wider world. But doing so requires money, for special projects and for routine expenses, such as heating the building and paying our extraordinary staff and choir.
I’m asking you to support those missions. Please fill out the enclosed pledge form to indicate what you expect to give to support Christ Church in 2022.
Please note that your pledge is an educated guess as to what you’ll be able to give, allowing the Vestry to plan a responsible budget for 2022. It isn’t a hard and fast contract: if your situation changes, for better or worse, you can revise it. Even if you aren’t absolutely sure how your 2022 will turn out, please submit a pledge, turning it in on or before the in-gathering day of November 21, Christ the King Sunday.
May God continue to shower you with surprising blessings.
Peace be with you,