by The Rev. Dr. R. Leigh Spruill
This year's stewardship campaign arrives in a season of great gratitude at St. John the Divine. Over the last two years, we have experienced generous ﬁnancial support, membership growth, and accelerating activity in many ministries. Thanks be to God. But we are eager to take the next steps in growing a discipleship culture and growing our kingdom impact for the city. Therefore, our appeal to members in this stewardship campaign is less about the need for monetary support of our operations than it is about moving toward growing generosity as a tangible expression of our growth in Christ.
A pervasive but easily overlooked theme in the gospels is the call to movement. The first words of Jesus to his disciples are “Come, follow me, and I will make you ﬁshers of people” (Mark 1:17). Deciding to follow Jesus involves movement from an old way of life to new way of life. In the middle of the gospels, Jesus is consistently on the move: “He went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God” (Luke 8:1). And the end of the gospels is about his movement as well: “Go forth and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The life of a disciple is a commitment to continuous movement into growing faith in Jesus as Lord.
I want us to be a church on the move, striking our tents to venture more trustingly and daringly where God is leading us. I also want to ask you to consider how your ﬁnancial pledge (estimate of giving) might be the fruit of your own discipleship journey deeper into faith. Wherever you are in relation to your pledge to St. John the Divine, might you hear the invitation of the Lord to take your next step in generosity?
While we have very important financial commitments to meet in the annual operations of a church of our scale and complexity, the fundamental motivation to “go forth” and deepen our commitments to church — and as the church, to the world — is not rooted in a sense of duty or obligation. The fundamental motivation to “go forth” is generosity: to share the gospel we have received with others as an act of faith and gratitude.
If we are reticent or concerned about a scarcity of resources, we might recall what Jesus also promises at the end of the gospels: “Remember that I am with you always ...” I can think of no greater source of conﬁdence in trusting a generous response to this year’s stewardship campaign, and I thank you in advance for your consideration of your own next steps toward generosity to St. John the Divine this fall.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Dr. R. Leigh Spruill, Rector